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Throughout my life my parents haveencouraged me to travel as much as possible. My fatherattended school in Italy and my mom backpacked through Spainwith her friends. Ever since I can remember, they have takenmy sister and me on trips and vacations all over theworld.

My best experience was in South America when Itraveled through Chile and Peru. The most fascinatingexperience was in the city of Machu Picchu. Once the home ofthe Inca civilization, this magnificent location became aphenomenon to me.

There are only two ways to get to thecity of Machu Picchu. One is by helicopter and the otherincludes a train ride, bus and long hike up the side of amountain. We opted for the latter of the two, a lengthyexcursion.

Located between the steep mountains of theAndes, the ruins of the city have been preserved forcenturies.

The structure of the buildings is practicallyperfect. Each is built of hand-carved stones, systematicallyplaced into precise positions.

I was amazed to learnthat there is no evidence of how any of the stones werebrought to the top of the mountain. There is no indication ofany quarries at Machu Picchu, which leads archaeologists tobelieve that each stone was brought from another area. Thesemassive blocks of granite fit together so tightly that you canbarely run a finger through their seams. One of theastonishing things I learned was that the Incas didn't use anykind of mortar to hold the stone structurestogether.

The remarkable thing is that the city islocated 2,400 meters above sea level. By terracing the landand creating a system of steps and levels, the Incas were ableto farm productively and cultivate the land.I was bewildered by the fact that what Isaw was referred to as "ruins." The remnants of Machu Picchuwere not uncovered until 1911 and they are still in almostperfect condition. Since no written documentation exists forthis city, there is no explanation for its existence.
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