As any well-traveled tourist knows, popular destinations tend to be crowded places. For Jesse Katayama, a worldwide pandemic and some sympathetic officials conspired to leave Machu Picchu virtually all to himself.
According to The New York Times, Katayama, a Japanese citizen, had embarked on a trip around the world when global lockdowns prompted by COVID-19 left him stranded in Peru for seven months. His destination had been Machu Picchu, the famed 15th-century Inca citadel located in the Andes Mountains. But like most public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic, it was shuttered to visitors.
This past weekend, Peru officials allowed Katayama to enter the site owing to his patience and desire to see Machu Picchu. The site, which typically hosts thousands of visitors daily, was all but empty save for a few tour guides.
When Katayama realized he couldn’t leave Peru, he rented an apartment, taught local boxing classes, and worked on fitness education exams. There was a brief opportunity to join an emergency evacuation organized by Japan, but Katayama thought the cost was prohibitive. He wanted to wait it out, and it paid off.
Katayama is now set to return to Japan. A reopening date for Machu Picchu is still pending.
[h/t The New York Times]