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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Return from Machu Picchu

I remember lying on the linoleum floor of my 6th grade history teacher’s classroom, scouring through his massive collection of National Geographic issues.  My ultimate dream was to photograph for them: Travelling the world in perilous conditions to capture the perfect emotion and energy of an entire narrative, just through a few shots from a high-quality DSLR.
Through those decades upon decades of magazines, I, of course, came across several pictures of Machu Picchu, as I’m sure several (if not all of) us have across the span of our lifetimes.  So why was it that I was so awestruck when I saw it in person?

Taking pictures at Machu Picchu is difficult, for we strive to capture something new, that would embody that emotion and energy we experience ourselves, but at the end of the day, no one else can really feel the difference we felt.  Feel the stone below their feet as they walked.  Smell the humid morning air.  Touch the creases between the stones, the cool dirt scraped clean of moss.  Sweep their eyes over the serenity, the “discovered” and exploited heaven on Earth that is Machu Picchu, that is Peru.

Personally, I came to South America to find that serenity once again, and I am not the only one.  We can’t help but to crave to share it, but it has taken me far too long to realize that this serenity is not found in Peru but within myself.  And with that, I’ve learned to keep it for myself, that it’s not worth sharing.  If the single shots caught in our eyes, our ears, our noses, and our fingertips mean more to us than anyone else could even fathom, it’s best to keep it that way.  A personal trinket tucked under our pillows at night.  A locket we keep clasped over our hearts.  What a single frame just cannot catch.