Sunset Over Lake Titicaca

“Sometimes, there’s so much beauty in the world – I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart is just going to cave in.”

I watched the movie American Beauty for the first time as an assignment in a fiction writing class that I took my senior year of college. It is a truly bizarre and incredible movie and if you’re able to appreciate the intersection of those two things then I highly recommend it.

But I remember hearing this quote for the first time and feeling it resonate inside of me. Experiencing something incredibly beautiful can be a little bit painful somehow. Maybe it’s the knowledge that the moment is fleeting. Or maybe it’s not possible for the human mind to fully understand the nature of beauty.

But on one such occasion I recall feeling completely overwhelmed by it.

When I studied in Peru we took a weekend trip to Lake Titicaca. Machu Picchu gets a lot of press. But if you are in the Cusco area, Puno and Lake Titicaca are well worth the 8ish hour bus ride as well.

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and is famous for a group of floating islands made by the indigenous people out of reeds found in the water.

We saw so much during our trip there and on the first night, the option of taking a hike up to the top of a mountain for sunset came up. I decide not to go. I didn’t want to hike, it was cold outside, and I was tired.

But someone talked me into it and I am forever indebted to them.

We left a little before sunset and started to head through the town up the mountain.

 

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Eventually we made it out of the small town and the landscape cleared.

 

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It looked like this most of the way up the mountain. It threatened to rain the whole time and the wind was getting stronger and stronger.

I remember being very cold and feeling my lungs burn as I made small talk with the guide, who was walking much faster than I would have liked.

The wind started to pick up even more and I put my hood over my head to cover my ears. Maybe it was because of the hood, or the wind, or maybe I was just so focused on putting on foot in front of the other that it was only when we reached the top that I became aware of what was happening.

And what was happening was the most beautiful sunset that I have ever, and probably will ever see. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve lived on the west coast of Florida my whole life, I know sunsets.

But this was different.

It felt like heaven.

 

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Some things are so beautiful that you can’t understand them. I walked around the whole time taking way too many photos and repeating, “I can’t believe this” for as long as the sun was setting.

The looming storm only added to the drama of the scene. I even caught a streak of lightning over the water.

 

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As it set further and further the gentle pink and soft grey from the distant rain turned into a fierce orange and it looked like the sun was descending into a fire behind the very last line of mountains.

 

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“Sometimes, there’s so much beauty in the world – I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart is just going to cave in.”

That night will stay with me forever. Pictures will never do it justice but the memory of being so wholly enveloped by the beauty of this place will never fade.

I feel privileged to have been on that mountain that night and to live in a world where such intense beauty is possible.

Thanks for reading.

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