Chapter 17.

From Aguas Calientes to Machu Pichu

They awoke before the sun, rose ready to beat the crowds that were sure to be there once the sun was up. They had to be there before sunrise; those two sticks that Pierce preciously hid were the key to finding something of interest and hopefully it would be gold. Not a word was said about the events of the night before.

“Common Jorge. Wake up now and get started. We need to be quick.” said Maria. Pierce was already out of bed, checking over the bags and making sure there was water enough for the group. Pedro however was another story.

“Maria, you still have not explained why we need to be up at the ruins before the sun is up, why?” It was a fair question, but Maria did not want to explain. She was still very cautious about Pedro.

“Pedro, now is not the time for explanations. Once up at the ruins you will see and understand. Now let’s check if we have everything and let’s go, it’s 04:00 am and we must be on our way.”

Pedro grumbled and could see that Jorge was really of the same opinion; it was far too early for anything physical like walking and climbing. Only Pierce and Maria seemed excited and ready to climb.

As they checked out of the inn they began the slow ascent towards Machu Pichu. The climb was difficult because of the high altitude. It was only 5 miles to climb and some people are able to do it in 15 minutes yet despite the urgency they had no intention of beating records. They were still a sleepy bunch and walking up the steep path would take a little over an hour as they were encumbered with picks and shovels. And of course with a person less that meant more weight on their backs. Finally the summit was reached with a terrific view of the surroundings.

“So, now where do we go?” said Pedro. He was always the one questioning Maria and Pierce, always wanting to know more.

“Now we go straight to the Temple of the Sun.” Maria said.

The temple was a tapered tower and in it it had a window by which the sun’s rays came streaming through at dawn in the South American winter, the solstice in June. As the rays enter through the window it illuminates a stone in the center of the temple. The temple was part of what is called the sacred district that encompasses Intihuatana, also called the hitching post of the sun and the room of the three windows.

“Okay, Jorge with Pierce at the top of the temple, while I and Pedro will go to the Intihuatana.” She pulled Pierce aside and told him to get out his sticks. One would go with her atop the three windows and the other would go with Pierce to go to the temple. Hopefully when the sun strikes the small crystals inside the hollow sticks the crossing of the rays will indicate on the ground where the gold was. That was the theory at least. The Intihuatana was on the same side that the Temple of the Sun but further away. Maria and Pedro hurried towards the area. Pedro had to climb quickly on top of the small monument.

“Remember,” said Maria, “you must hold the sticks with the crystal at an angle of 45 degrees or else it will not work.”

“Don’t worry,” said Pedro. He was excited that he finally understood how everything was supposed to work.

Maria could see further away Pierce with the other stick on top of the wall of the temple high up. Suddenly, the sun appeared as a fiery globe and at the instant its rays illuminated the area they hit the crystals and two beautiful multicolored rays went forth from the sticks, one crossing the other with the result that the two rays merged and hit the ground in front of them but further away. Immediately Pedro located the exact area; it was at the temple of the condor. He ran towards the area where the rays intersected each other. No time could be lost as they did not want tourists and guards to see what was happening. Finally, after a few minutes of running he arrived there. The area was called the industrial area and it comprises the mortar district and at this place was a carving of a condor with at the base of it a cave. One can crawl through the cave and emerge on the other side. The rays crossed at that point, near the carving. Pedro knew that he had mere minutes before Maria and Jake Pierce would be on him and so he decided and acted quickly in accord with the plans made with Jorge. He began digging just underneath the carving. He thought that he had enough time to find whatever was there but soon he heard noises behind him. It was Maria and Pierce. He was still digging when they arrived, still trying to find something under the carving.

“Well, where is the spot,” asked Maria.

“It was directly below the carving,” replied Pedro, who was distressed that he did not have the time to find anything before the others arrived. Jorge and the others looked at Pedro and at the carving. Maria and Pierce kneeled down and began to examine it.

“Well, what next,” asked Maria. “Any ideas Jake?”

“Well, the map said nothing about the condor, so the condor has to be the beginning of something else, but what? I suppose that Pedro was right in beginning to excavate below the image.”

“Maybe it is something hidden beneath it. Let’s dig deeper underneath the image!” Maria said.

Jorge took out a shovel as well as Pedro and both began digging. Finally after a few minutes of digging something appeared underneath buried in a sort of cloth bag.

“What is this?” said Jorge. “It looks like another map or something.”

“Let me see more closely,” said Maria. She bent down and tried tugging at the object. It was inside a brownish cloth bag. She tugged at it and finally it came out, a small bundle the size of a handbag.

“Got it!” Maria exulted. Sheer happiness was on her face while the others looked on. “Quick now, lets put back all the soil underneath the stone and leave the area. We must not attract any suspicions on ourselves. Do it quickly.” They rapidly were able to put back the soil underneath the carving in record time, took their shovels and left to a more secluded part of the complex in the industrial area. There, they took the map out of the bag and began poring over it.

“Well, another map probably from my grandfather, don’t you think Maria?” Pierce said.

Maria was busy looking over the map and trying to identify features that could help locate the gold.

“It’s clear that it was left there by your grandfather, but once again the precise locations of things is not clear.”

“Let me take a look at it. I know the region quite well having spent my childhood years in the vicinity,” said Pedro. He took the map and began examining it closely. Suddenly he looked astonished and said in an excited voice, “I found it, I know where it is located!”

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