After being stranded in Peru for seven months due to COVID-19, a Japanese tourist got to enjoy visiting Machu Picchu by himself when the local government reopened the site.
Change of plans: Jesse Katayama, a 26-year-old tourist from Osaka, Japan, was scheduled to enter the UNESCO World Heritage site on March 16 but was postponed when the pandemic hit, CNN reported.
- On March 14, Katayama arrived in Aguas Calientes, where most tourists start their expeditions to Machu Picchu.
- Unfortunately, the Peruvian government decided to close the site that day to keep visitors safe.
- Stranded in Peru, Katayama was forced to rent a small room in Aguas Calientes.
- He has only been staying in the town as border closures prevented him from visiting other countries in South America.
- Katayama, a boxing instructor back home, started teaching boxing to the local children in his spare time.
- Aside from winning some friends among the locals, he also visited local attractions such as the Putucusi Mountain and the Calientes Waterfalls.
Off the bucket list: In an interview with CNN, Katayama shared how he admired Machu Picchu from afar during his long stay, and how he was no longer expecting to visit it as he was already almost out of money.
- “I thought I would never make it to Machu Picchu as I was expecting it won’t open within this year, but I was OK with it because I had a great time here,” he was quoted as saying.
- A local tour company called Andean Roots Peru and the national Ministry of Culture came to his rescue.
- Katayama was given special permission to enter the site and he got to do it free from the usual crowd.
- He was also accompanied by site chief Jose Bastante and two photographers to document the experience.
- Katayama revealed how it all happened in an Instagram post, writing, “I thought I never make it (to Machu Picchu) but everyone asked the government and the town and they gave me super special permission.” He added: “Peruvians are soooo kind. Thank you soooo much!”
- Katayama is set to return to Japan on Oct. 16.