Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
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The Man from Oz
As the man dressed head to toe in khaki turned the corner and began racewalking uphill in my direction, I had to wonder: had we met before? It certainly seemed unlikely. John Leivers was in his late fifties and spent most of his time exploring in remote parts of the Andes, machete in hand, searching for ancient ruins. The overdeveloped pop-culture lobe of my brain noted his passing resemblance to Crocodile Dundee—John wore a vest and a bush hat, and greeted me on the sidewalk outside my hotel with a cheery “Hallo, Mark!” that confirmed deep Australian roots—but there was something else strangely familiar about him.
“Sorry about the delay,” he said as we shook hands. “Just got back to Cusco last night.”
In a general sort of way, John Leivers reminded me of the professional explorers I’d encountered over the years while working as an editor at various adventure travel magazines in New York City—the kind of men and women who drove dogsleds to the South Pole and
combed the ocean floor for sunken treasure. John was extremely fit; dressed as if ready to clamber up the Matterhorn though it was a cloudless, seventy-degree day; and about as unattached as a man could be in the twenty-first century. He had no wife, no children, no permanent mailing address, just a cell phone and a Gmail account. He’d been recommended to me as one of the best guides in South America, and it had taken weeks to reach him. But now that he was finally here, sitting down to a late breakfast at my tiny hotel in Cusco, an old colonial city in the middle of the Peruvian Andes, I wasn’t quite sure where to begin. Because I didn’t exactly have a plan.
We ordered coffees, and John started to tell me about himself, occasionally stopping in the middle of a sentence—“When you’re traveling alone, you’ve got to be absolutely, um, seguro . . . sorry, it’s been a little while since I’ve spoken English”—then patting his ear like a swimmer dislodging water, as if a tenacious Spanish verb were stuck in there. John had started coming to Cusco twenty years ago, when he was
working as an extreme-trip leader, driving fearless globe-trotters across four continents in an open-back truck. “Back then the shops were still closed on Sundays and you could go months without seeing an American,” he said. During the last decade, a period during which the number of visitors to Cusco had multiplied exponentially because of its position as the gateway to Machu Picchu, John had seen interest in serious adventure dwindle.
Reprinted by arrangement with Knopf, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Turn Right ay Machu Picchu by Mark Adams.
Copyright © 2011 by Penguin Group.
In Turn Right at Machu Picchu, adventure-and-travel magazine editor Mark Adams recounts his attempts to investigate the allegations against Hiram Bingham by retracing the explorer’s perilous path to Machu Picchu. Given Adams’ career, it isn’t an entirely far-fetched notion, even if it does require him to sleep in a tent for the first time. With a crusty Australian survivalist and Quechua-speaking, coca-chewing mule-tenders as his guides, Adams takes us through some of the most gorgeous and historic landscapes in Peru.
Along the way, he finds a still-undiscovered country populated with brilliant and eccentric characters, as well as an answer to the question that has nagged scientists since Bingham’s time: Just what was Machu Picchu?
Softcover Book : 352 pages
Publisher: Dutton, Div. of Penguin Putnam ( July 07, 2011 )
Item #: 13-531183
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.88inches
Product Weight: 12.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I'm not one for "travel" boks as I rarely care where someone else has gone that I would never see. However, Machu Pichu has captured my attention since first hearing about it in an Ancient Aliens episode. Mark Adams takes us along his journey to walk in the steps of the famous explorer Hiram Bingham. And walk with him we do. His descriptions and humor make you feel like you are listening to one of your good friend's travel stories. Fun stuff filled with facts and wonder.
Do yourself a favor and "travel" the Inca Road. Blister free!
I have always wanted to visit Machu Picchu, and reading the author's adventures are the next-best thing to going there myself. He does a great job of presenting both the past and the present of Machu Picchu in a well-paced, humorous and entertaining narrative.
Reviewer: Maria T
I loved traveling with him through Peru, both in the past and in the present. I learned a lot, and he made me want to go out and buy airplane tickets.
Although this is not a guide book, it is an excellent introduction to Machu Pichu for the armchair adventurer or the person actually traveling to the site. Adams covers the original Bingham expeditions in good detail, and then adds his own commentary which is funny, educational, ecologically evangelical, and forthright. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and look forward to making the trip myself within the year.
Reviewer: Alice S