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Many things reveal themselves in the Andean cloud forests. Many of which we were never really able to appreciate until the weeks and months after returning to the corn fields of Ohio. I remember this photo being one intended as a greater study on the flora of the Sacred Valley with Machu Picchu’s manicured terraces providing the backdrop. Not until later did I recognize what a stunning setting was transpiring all around us.

The day began brisk and sunny – not a cloud in the sky. However, things change rapidly in the Andes and soon the bright early morning sun faded and the skies thickened with clouds, and lots of them. Through the majority of the midday, the trail was a complete white-out. Our ignorance was a virtue as we weren’t wise to what we were missing. At the very moment we were within eyeshot of Machu Picchu, the skies serendipitously began to clear. The winds swiftly evacuated the deep valley of the stalled-out clouds, and they rolled over the jagged ridges just like the white-water over the boulders in the river below.

Ramiro reminded us every few minutes of our good fortune, something we took quite seriously, as he’s a man who had yet to show a morsel of emotion. I couldn’t imagine traveling so far and being deprived of the opportunity to lay gaze on the ruins let alone in a fashion this dramatic. Yet, ignorance is bliss, or something like that. I must confess, at that moment I was simply waiting for the nuisance of the process to finish so I could focus all my attention on the ultimate destination. Ironically, the process was nearly as spectacular as the final product.

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