World

After waiting for 7 months, this tourist got his Machu Picchu himself

Jesse Katayama was planning to end a two-year voyage around the world at 8,000 feet above sea level in Machu Picchu, the sprawling 15th-century Inca fortress high in the Andes Mountains.

Then the Corona virus happened, leaving Mr. Katayama, a 26-year-old Japanese national, stranded in Peru and shutting down tourist sites with the nationwide lockdown.

On Sunday, after a wait of seven months, Mr. Katayama was finally able to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site. Apart from a few guides, he got everything for himself.

“After the lockdown, the first man to visit Machu Picchu was meeeeeee,” he wrote in an Instagram post that included pictures of himself with the park representative.

Alejandro Nera, Peru’s Minister of Culture, said at a virtual press conference on Monday that Mr Katayama was granted special access to the site out of appreciation for his patience.

“He came to Peru with a dream that he would be able to enter,” said Mr. Nera. “A Japanese citizen entered with our park president so that he could do so before returning home.”

Before the pandemic, Machu Picchu used to receive thousands of visitors daily. Tourists usually have to apply months in advance for permits to enter the Inca pathway that leads to the ancient castle.

Mr. Katayama’s original passage was set for March 16, and he arrived two days earlier, at Aguas Calientes, a town at the foot of the mountain.

But the two days turned into weeks and then months. He rented a small town apartment and spent time taking daily yoga lessons, teaching local children how to box, and studying various fitness and sports nutrition certification exams.

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He wrote on a crowdfunding website two years ago that he dreamed of opening a boxing gym in Japan and wanted to travel the world to learn the best techniques from every country. Before arriving in Peru, he studied boxing in Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya.

Mr. Katayama told a Japanese media that he had considered joining the emergency evacuation trips the Japanese government organized in the spring, but found them too expensive. He eventually decided to stay, postponing his departure in the hope that Machu Picchu would soon reopen.

His patience eventually paid off, and he became a local celebrity last week when No RepubblicaAnd the One of the major Peruvian newspapers, covered his vigil and invited him “The last tourist in Machu Picchu.”

He told the newspaper, “I stayed with the sole purpose of getting to know this miracle, and I did not want to leave without doing so.” In a separate interview.

He said on Instagram that news of his persistence had led hundreds of well-wishers to petition the authorities on his behalf.

Mr. Nira, Minister of Culture, said that the authorities had received a visit request for Mr. Katayama and had decided to grant him special access before his return to Japan.

The epidemic has devastated the tourism industry in Peru, which is the country’s third largest source of income. The industry employs more than 1.3 million workers, or nearly 8 percent of the country’s workforce She said the Lima Chamber of Commerce in 2018. When I stopped traveling, I lost most of those jobs.

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Peru has also reported a growing number of coronavirus cases, and more than 33,000 deaths.

That said Mr. Neras Seven archaeological sites in Cusco, A city in the Andes, will open its doors to small groups at 30 percent capacity Thursday. The date for the reopening of Machu Picchu has not been announced.

Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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