Aug. 24, 2017
I stood frozen in place in front of the massive stone gate. The intricate carvings of ritual sacrifice, a man standing over a naked woman with a scythe in his hand, were the symbols of the past five years work becoming a success. In the span of a few heartbeats, as I crested the hill, everything seemed worthwhile. The long nights studying by an oil lamp, sweating in the heat it threw off but determined to work out the issues that wracked my brain were suddenly but minor bumps in the path. I looked down at my blood stained hands that were shaking with a mix of anticipation, excitement, and hunger. The smears of blood on my shirt, satchel, and hands reminded me of all those who were lost in the efforts to deliver me to this very spot. A pang of guilt shook my soul as their faces raced through my memory and their screams echoed in my ears. I fell to my knees, tears streaming down my cheeks, mixing with the mud and blood that had caked there. It was all for this moment, what happened in the next twenty-four hours would determine whether or not their lives had been given in vain. I mustn’t falter now.
I pushed myself back to my feet and stumbled forward. The horrible hunger in my stomach that had plagued me the last couple days was slowly replaced by the hunger for knowledge that had driven me to the jungles of Peru to begin with. My parched throat seemed insignificant compared to my parched mind ready to receive the plentiful answers beyond this gate. I pushed forward. As my excitement rose my pace quickened and I soon found myself walking briskly, taking high, proud steps like a boy on his first day of school. As I passed under the massive gate and proceeded down the hill that followed I knew that everything had changed. My journey had only just begun.