Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hiram Bingham's "Discovery"

     Despite the highway named after him and the several references of his name and presence at Machu Picchu, I can’t help but think of Hiram Bingham as somewhat of a fraud. Upon his arrival to the nearby area, a local farmer informed Bingham of Machu Picchu’s presence, and an 11 year old led him to the site. Despite the ruins’ reputation as being a hidden secret until Bingham’s grandiose discovery, this was hardly the case. The people were fully aware of its presence, and Machu Picchu only remained a secret kept from the outside world.

My man Bingham
     As Profe mentioned, it seems that year after year, Machu Picchu keeps attracting more and more tourists from all corners of the earth. After waking up at 4 am, we hardly expected to stand in line behind hundreds of people waiting for the bus before the sun had even risen. As many as 5,000 people visit Machu Picchu each day during high season, and an estimated 1 million people annually. I have no one to blame except Bingham for the excessive lines and hundreds of stinky tourists I spent my day dodging (kidding). Of course, if Bingham hadn’t done it, someone else would sooner or later. I also have him to thank for the ease of our visit, a quick bus ride up the mountain instead of following a farmer or 11-year-old in search of the “secret” ruins. But I also can’t help but have somewhat of a Christopher Columbus idea of him, claiming to discover a land and civilization that existed and would continue to exist whether he appeared or not. Machu Picchu is undeniably one of the greatest wonders of the world, but it leaves me wondering where it would be without Bingham.

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