The hills are alive with the sound of pan flute

“Where’s. That. Music. Coming. From?” I ask Todd as we pause our up up uphill hike to the ruins over Pisac, Peru. “Do you. See. Anyone?”


“Wait. Is that, pan flute? It is. Ugh, pan flute!”

Pisac ruins from afar, Peru photo

Pisac ruins from afar

Pisac ruins waterfall, Peru photo

Pisac ruins waterfall

Despite the pestering sound, the hike to and through Pisac‘s old Incan ruins is blissful. On high, the air is surprisingly clear of tour bus fumes. The view from the top of the terraced mountains requires a full spin to take it all in, leaving me Julie Andrews dizzy.

Fear of heights at Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Fear of heights at Pisac ruins

Two women wait to tout, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Two women wait to tout

To think that most people come to Pisac, buy some junk from the market, and hustle back to Cusco without seeing these ruins is as aggravating as the pan flute tunes.

Battlements and vista at the Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Battlements and vista

Gravity defying flower at the Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Gravity defying flower

Although, to be fair, the ruins hike is not easy. Todd and I thought we were being ever so smart and budget-conscious, deciding to skip the taxi ride to the far trailhead.

Incan merlons at the Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Incan merlons and crenels at the Pisac ruins

Incan window through an Incan door, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Incan window through an Incan door

So instead of an easy hike descending from the trail’s highest point, we’ve ascended over 1,000 feet by Incan staircase and washed out sheep trails, wishing we’d brought more water. Our main consolation is that we’ve already adjusted to the site’s 11,000-foot altitude so there’s no puking or migraines.

Mysterious Incan wall nipple, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Mysterious Incan wall nipple

One Incan brick is not like the other, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

One Incan brick is not like the other

We meet people going the other, supposedly easier direction who are far worse off than us. We cross paths with a thick-around-the-middle, middle aged American woman. She’s catching her breath on a minimalist wood bench someone has thoughtfully set up next to the trail. Unprompted, she tells us she’s resting because the downhill hike has turned her legs into jelly.

Flowers on receding wall, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Flowers on receding wall

Intihuatana doorway silhouette, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Intihuatana doorway silhouette

“But I’m okay with the pain. It’s all been worth it. Ya’see, this is a karmic path for me,” she explains as she wipes her forehead on her tye-dyed shirt sleeve.

“I fell at one point, right on my ass. And when I put my hands down on the ground to push myself back up, I touched this rock.”

Pueblo Antiguo, Pisac ruins Peru photo

Pueblo Antiguo and Quechua walkers

Purple flowers and battlement, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Purple flowers and battlement

She holds out a flat gray stone that has a 90-degree corner and two asymmetrical curves.

“It’s a heart!” she shouts. “I’m here in Peru to get over heartbreak and the universe gives me this sign. Can you believe it?”

Flower gatherer, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Flower gatherer

A shepherdess and flock on terraces, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

A shepherdess and flock on the Pisac ruin terraces

Much practiced with handling exuberant, heartfelt ravings, Todd and I “mmm” and “aah” appropriately during her story and sidle off quickly.

“A heart?!” I say to Todd once we’re out of hearing range, “I thought it looked like a stubby little penis.”

Terraces wrap the hills, Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Terraces wrap the hills

Hiking a baby down the Pisac ruins, Peru photo

Hiking a baby down the Pisac ruins

Have you ever felt you were meant to be somewhere? What sign did you receive?