Just got back from a trip to Peru. In the last several years their economy has transitioned from growing potatoes, gathering wool from Alpacas, and netting fish to netting thousands of tourists from all over the world. The tourists come to see Machu Picchu, built around 1450, which was thought to be the Camp David of the ninth Supa Inca (“son god”) Pachacuti. At least that’s what they think it was for. No one really knows. Pachacuti lived from 1418 to 1471 or 1472, and during his life the Inca empire expanded greatly. Pachacuti is Inca for He Who Expands Empire Greatly. Or maybe not. No one really knows. Anyway, Machu Picchu is a World Heritage Site, a magnet for eco-tourism, a must see. Apparently in the past they’ve had trouble with people running naked through the site, but no more. Maybe they were trying to score an I Streaked Through Sacred Ruins t-shirt.
At the foot of the highlands of Machu Picchu is the town of Aguas Calientes. Hotels, hostels, restaurants, money changers, and loads of locals trying to sell you stuff on the street. Runners haul loaded hand carts through the street bearing everything from chairs to eggs to bottled water and beer. Peruvians stay in shape. In the town square there is a statue of Pachacuti. I doubt if anyone knew what he really looked like, but the statue makers build a handsome rendition anyway.
What the historians and archeologists didn’t know about is Pachacuti’s dream. This was because the legend was passed down through the generations via the ancient language of Quechua, spoken by the indigenous peoples of the Andes. An elderly Peruvian, speaking Quechua, passed the story down to Sylvia Wiseman, a linguist from Yale University, who documented it in her dissertation entitled What the Quechua? So all these years later the story of Pachacuti’s dream can finally be told. Here goes:
In 1451 Pachacuti was tooling around Machu Picchu thinking: Nice digs. Worthy of sacrifices and beer drinking festivals. Don’t ask me how they got all these rocks up the hill, but I’m impressed. But he was also disturbed by the dream he had the previous night. He called together his Inner Circle to tell them of it.
Meeting with his Inner Circle in the Sacred Inter Chamber, he pronounced: I am Pachacuti, the Supa Inca Sun God! Bow down! They did.
I had a dream! I had a dream of the future that was fantastic. You’re not going to believe this, but I’m not making it up. They stayed bowed down. Now rise! He ordered. They did.
He proclaimed: Let it be known that over 500 years from now our world will change. Between now and then here is what will happen:
Invaders from across the ocean will come to our land seeking gold and silver. They will have hair on their faces and greed in their eyes. They will ride large beasts that run people over, and will have thunder sticks that will shoot projectiles that kill. They are mean and treacherous, and will overtake our empire in a short time. We will try and appease them by filling rooms full of gold and silver, but to no avail. They want to dominate us, and impose their religion, which is based on the execution of a peasant in a far away land. They say he is God, or Son of God, or a Holy Spirit, or something like that. It’s all confusing.
They will chase us into the jungle, then proceed to tear down our temples. They will build their own temples to worship the Son of God. They will ban our language, and insist on us using theirs. They will dominate all of this continent, as well as our neighbors to the North, and claim our land for their own royal King and Queen across the ocean.
Many years later a tall man from the far North will “discover” this place. By that time it will be covered by vegetation. He will scratch his head and wonder: What is this? Later he will have the site cleared, and call the site Machu Picchu, or Whoopee We are Here! He will collect many artifacts and ship them back to his country. The future rulers of this land they will call Pay-roo. They will insist he return the artifacts. Eventually it will be done, but much will be lost.
Finally, people from all over the world will flock to this site. It will be very popular, and visited by people called tour-ests. Any questions?
Chillupa, the shaman, raised his hand and asked: Your highness, how will they get here?
Pachacuti: They will fly here in mechanical condors called air-o-planes. Air-o-planes are made of metal not like gold, silver or copper, but something called allu-men-num. Future people will forge this allu-men-num into mechanical condors. Thousands of people will fly here wanting to see this place. I know it is pretty impressive, but geez.
Chillupa: What will propel these condors?
Pachacuti: Men will extract from the ground a black substance called hoil. Then they will cook it and turn it into what they call gazo-line. Then they will put the gazo-line into the condor into what they call an engine, and badda-boom! It will fly!
And here’s something else. Everyone will have a device the size of their hand for communication. It will be called a cello-phone. With it they can talk to anyone else who has this device, and their voice will be transmitted over what they will call the air waves through the clouds.
Finally, because all this gazo-line burning and other combustion, people will turn the climate warmer, and our glaciers will melt, causing extended periods of drought. I’m glad I won’t be around to see that. Now I have spoken! Go prepare me some sacrifices!
As they filed out Chillupa turned to the High Priest Umpaumpa and said: Can you believe that? I think our king has gone mad!
Umpaumpa: Keep it to yourself. We wouldn’t want to rile up the masses.
Fast forward to the 21stCentury: Illiacapolo, a direct descendant of Pachacuti, awoke in his house on the outskirts of Cusco. He rubbed his eyes and went to the table where his family was gathered round for the meal. He cleared his throat and announced:
I had a dream.