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Did I ever tell you the story about Machu Picchu? 

In my early 20’s I knew I wanted to travel. I always had friends from other places at uni, I was angry at my Mum for not letting me fly to NYC 3 months after 9/11 as a wide eyed (and highly naive) 18 year old, I dove head first into Summer Camps in the USA as soon as the ink dried on my undergrad degree. 

At some point, probably whilst watching the never ending stream of rom-coms that I’ve exposed my brain to, I made the executive decision that Machu Picchu would be conquered with my significant other in tow. In the layout of my life, we would meet, travel, adventure to places like South America and continue to fall deeper in love. Eventually getting married and continuing to explore with the aid of a day pack to piggyback small babies &/ toddlers around.

Unbeknownst to me, in that moment I put a series of conditions around my goal of experiencing Machu Picchu. 

In 2014 I found myself burnt out from work and my soul stuck between continents. I had turned to yoga to get a better grip on myself and my self management. This resulted in me googling “yoga teacher training in mountains”.  This is eerily similar to how I ended up at Blue Star summer camps in 2005. Mountains – they call me. 

Want mountains? Enter the Andes.

Peru came shining through in my googling research. There also happened to be an American based Yoga Teacher Training course run out of the Sacred Valley. Mountains cradling a sacred valley? Where better to learn about the intrinsics of yoga teaching? Plus, the fact I knew no Spanish would only be a minor hindrance. 

I paid some money, booked 6 months off work, and found myself in Singapore airport naming this segment of life #recklessabandontour as I made my way to France to meet family.  It took me about 2.5 months to wind my way around to Peru – via France, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Collecting moments. 

In amongst the travel, there were scheduling emails between the pending Peruvian Yogis about the possibility of catching the train up to see Machu Picchu for a day trip. Three of us decided to go, booking our passes and train trips separately. In a slightly befuddled, yet totally true to ‘Hayley’ travel style, I booked a different train up and back to the other two girls. Mine was the second to leave from Ollantaytambo and the last to get back in. Oops. 

On the morning of departure, we three tried to change my ticket to match the others. It was impossible. There were no other seats on the first train. I must wait. 

My train arrived. I looked at my ticket and seat number. Car 1, seat A1. 

I made my way to my seat. I was in the very front. There was a wall of glass in front of me, beside me, above me. It felt like I was flying around the tracks, through the rock, next to the streams, and cliff walls. Spectacular. There were many people who came to the front of the train to take photos and experience the unobscured views. Many looked at me, casually sitting there and asked how I’d secured that seat. “I just booked a ticket”. Many silent “thank you”s were sent to the man in Lima who booked my ticket at the tourist information centre a few weeks prior. 

Yogis in Machu Picchu…
Standard poses ensued (photos and asanas).

In short order, we got to play in Machu Picchu. Three yogi friends who had all shown up to Peru for our own reasons, exploring wonders of the world with open hearts and spirited souls. 

Getting lost amongst the ruins, I recalled my former self declaring this experience was to be performed with the love of my life, the future father of my children, my partner. Whoa. Many expectations, many things to get in order before even setting foot on a plane. 

Instead, I got to fly solo on tracks laid before me. I spent the day with women who continue to uplift and inspire me on a regular basis. I got to be ‘me’, Hayley, rather than the partner, the girlfriend, the other. 

Recently, I am called to remember this feeling. To be curious about what other expectations and conditions I’ve placed on things without a conscious awareness? Are there other momentous experiences that I’m denying due to an element ‘missing’? 

What if I did it anyway? 

Let the magic of the unknown unfold.