It is a little after one as I settle onto a rock overlooking Manchu Piccu. The warm sun is comforting and the view breathtaking as I reflect on our hike up WynuPicchu earlier today. I force myself to shut my eyes and focus on the quiet sounds around me. The most distinct noise is the eerie whisper of the wind through the mountains. The sound changes drastically as it moves through dry branches and then grasses and leaves growing among the rocks. I can begin to make out the sound of these gusts as they travel closer to me, finally whistling around my ears.
In the valley below I can make out the sound of the water rushing around the rocks, moving at a sickening pace. While far away, the sound is the most consistent in my ears. Unlike the wind that comes and goes, the water flows at the same rate and tone throughout the experience.
The only interrupting noise besides these natural sounds was that of tourists on the site. The crunching of their footsteps were heard long before they rounded the corner where I am sitting. At times I can hear their voices, several languages, ages and tones as they pass.
Blocking out the sounds of the people, I open my eyes and focus on the wind, water and buzzing of bugs around me. I begin to realize that the these sounds are the same as what the Incas would have been listening to as they built this breathtaking empire. The roaring river, whispering waves and soft footsteps would have filled in the silence of their work and life. Were these sounds overtaken by the noise of construction and work?
They would have overlooked the same view of endless green peaks. What was it like to live in this unbelievable stone empire, surrounded by the whispering winds flowing through these peaks and valleys? These questions seemed to bring to life this landscape and I tried to picture it as a powerful empire instead of ruins that have become a tourist attraction. Between this stretch of time I began to think about the absence of sound in this place for the years that it was abandoned, overgrown and unused. The sounds of wind, water and a few native animals would have given this once busy area an eerie emptiness. No sounds of footsteps, talking and laughing would have interrupted the magnificent sleeping city.