Mary Ipser, an 83-year-old from Belville, South Africa, recently accomplished a remarkable feat. Just 10 months after undergoing brain surgery and spinal fusion, she reached the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, situated at an altitude of 2,430 meters (7,972 feet) above sea level.
Delayed Trip to Peru
Mary’s trip to Peru had been delayed for three years due to the COVID pandemic. However, recognizing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit such a historic and culturally significant site, Mary and her family, including her 80-year-old husband Claude, sons Adrian and Jonathan, daughter-in-law Chantal, and grandson Damian, decided to make the journey.
Overcoming Physical Challenges
Aware of the physical challenges and the thin air at high altitudes, Mary initially had reservations about her ability to conquer the mountain. However, she decided to give it her best effort, saying, “My confidence was low, but here was a chance to see where it should be.”
While the rest of the family embarked on the challenging Salkantay Peak trek in the Andes, Mary and Chantal chose a more leisurely route, staying behind in Cusco before catching up with the group in Aguas Calientes. From there, they boarded a bus to Machu Picchu National Park.
Struggle and Encouragement at Machu Picchu
Upon reaching the steep rock steps leading to the highest levels of Machu Picchu, Mary found herself struggling to catch her breath. She decided to wait for Claude on his way down, and sat on a step to rest. It was then that a kind, unknown guide appeared, offering words of encouragement. He took her elbow, guiding her upward to a higher-level terrace. It was there she reunited with Claude, capturing a memorable photo to mark the occasion.
Reflection and Enrichment
Reflecting on her time in Peru, Mary was struck by the country’s beauty, the breathtaking views, the mysterious history of the ancient civilization, and the warm, helpful nature of the local people. Mary and Claude, seasoned adventurers who have visited 76 different countries, are no strangers to boundary-pushing experiences. However, the triumph of reaching Machu Picchu after her recent health ordeal stands out as a testament to Mary’s resilience, determination, and courage.
A Testament to Resilience
The accomplishment of reaching Machu Picchu after her recent health ordeal has left Mary enriched, more confident in herself, and eager to explore the world further. As she continues to recover and regain her strength, one can only wonder where her next adventure will take her. No matter the destination, it is certain that Mary’s indomitable spirit will carry her through any challenge that comes her way.