The authorities that be, over in Machu Picchu decided to open the Peruvian Historical Sanctuary for one day, for one stranded Japanese tourist, whose dream was to visit the site.
Cue the warm fuzzies because this story is a bit cute.
Pre-COVID and Jesse Katayama is on an epic travel adventure, ticking off his wish-list items and exploring the world. Fast forward to October and the Japanese citizen has been stranded in the Peruvian town of Aguas Calientes for seven months.
However, it has most definitely been worth the wait, as a few days ago, the Peruvian authorities decided to specially open Machu Picchu for Jesse.
He is the first traveller to walk through the ruins since it closed in March and got to enjoy the experience without the crowds.
What’s the story?
Jesse has originally only planned to spend a few days in Peru so he could visit the world-famous site, Machu Picchu. He has his entry ticket and permit to enter on March 16, but, of course, that was when the Peruvian government chose to close the site due to the global pandemic.
Since then, he has been stuck in Peru, unable to continue his travels, or go back home to Japan.
He had to rent a room in Aguas Calientes – the town most people begin their Machu Picchu adventure – and make the most out of his COVID standstill.
By the looks of his Instagram posts, Jesse has been making friends with the locals and passing the time with lots of yoga, boxing club, running, and chill time.
During his ‘imprisonment’ in Aguas Calientes, Jesse made a special request to the authorities to visit Machu Picchu said Minister of Culture Alejandro Neyra, saying it was his dream to enter the magical site.
This must have tugged at the heart strings of Minister of Culture Alejandro Neyra, as he decided that Jesse should be able make that dream a reality, before returning to his home country.
With the go-ahead from the national Ministry of Culture and help from a local tour company, Jesse and two photographers had a day at a very empty Machu Picchu.
Jesse wrote on his Instagram “All the people in Peru are too kind, thank you very much!”
According to CNN, Jesse Katayama will leave Peru to go back to Japan on October 16. He is saying goodbye to the locals he has made friends with over the past seven months and some of the local children even make him a doll from toilet paper rolls.
He told CNN “I will definitely cry,” when it comes to saying his farewells to Aguas Calientes.
“These seven months have been very special to me. I have discovered a new part of me.”
*I’m not crying, you’re crying!*
The future of Machu Picchu
COVID-19 is inspiring a new way of travel and it looks like Peru plans to take steps into making sure Machu Picchu is kept in tip-top condition when it plans to open in November.
It is expected that moving forward, Peru will allow around 200 tourists to visit per day, which is roughly 30% reduced capacity.
Hopefully, this will inspire a more mindful approach when it comes to travel and conscious tourism.
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