Some childhood fantasies diminish with time. We know now that we're probably never going to get to spend the night at the mall, guzzling Slush Puppies directly from the spout, and it's unlikely that we'll get the keys to the Magic Kingdom for a solo ride on Splash Mountain after dark. But getting one of the Wonders of the Modern World all to ourselves, well... that's one fantasy that has just come true for one lucky person.
Japanese tourist Jesse Katayama lived out all our dreams last Saturday when Peru opened Machu Picchu especially for him. Jesse bought a ticket for the Inca Trail just days before the country went into lockdown in March. He had intended to spend just three days in Aguas Calientes - the gateway town to Machu Picchu - but with flights cancelled and no viable way out, he ended up spending seven months there, according to Reuters.
During his time in Peru Jesse worked as a fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and coached local children in basketball. But visiting the mighty Machu Picchu remained one of his goals. After posting about his desire to visit the world-famous tourist site online, followers pleaded with the mayor and government to grant his wish. And on Saturday it finally came true, thanks to the minister of culture, Alejandro Neyra, and Machu Picchu officials, who heeded his request.
"The first person on Earth who went to Machu Picchu since the lockdown is meeeeeee," Jesse wrote on Instagram. "I thought that I wouldn't be able to go, but thanks to all of you who pleaded with the mayor and the government, I was given this super special opportunity," he added. "The people of Peru are too kind. Thank you very much."
Through videos shared on Instagram, Jessue was seen marvelling at the views from atop the World Heritage Site, and marvelling at his luck on his private tour. "This is so amazing," he said. "Thank you!".
マチュピチュ観光大使に就任しました。 マコ様に続いて日本で2人目です。 インタビューだけだと聞いていたので、パジャマとサンダルで行ってしまいました。ごめんなさい。 とは言っても他はバスケのユニフォームしか持ち歩いていません。 どの道ごめんなさい。 就任したからには頑張ります‼️ コロナ終わったら皆さんマチュピチュGO‼️ #先言うてよぉぉぉぉ #いやそれは先言うてよぉぉぉぉ #マチュピチュ #観光大使 #まだ理解が追いついてない笑 #machupicchu #tourismambassador
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Tourists will be able to follow in Jesse's footsteps soon when Machu Picchu opens to international visitors in November, though they won't have their own private tours. Officials are busy preparing the site and on Tuesday, it was awarded the Safe Travels stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council in recognition of its enhanced health and safety measures. It opened to locals this week and when it opens to tourists, it will be at 30% capacity.
Already some international flights have resumed in Peru, both in and out of the country, and many attractions have begun to open at reduced capacity.