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Like many travelers around the world, Jesse Katayama found his dream trip thwarted by the spread of Covid-19.

But after an unexpected seven month stay in Peru, Katayama is finally crossing "visit Machu Picchu" off of his bucket list -- and he got to enjoy being the only tourist there.

Katayama, a native of Osaka, Japan, arrived in Aguas Calientes, the town from which most people begin their Machu Picchu expeditions - on March 14.

He already had his entry ticket and permit to enter the UNESCO World Heritage site on March 16 in hand, but that was when the Peruvian government opted to close the site. Katayamawas stranded.

Since then, the 26-year-old Katayama, a boxing instructor, has become a local in Aguas Calientes, where he has been renting a small room for the past seven months.

Although border closures have kept him from visiting other South American countries, he has made the best of his experience by exploring local attractions like Putucusi Mountain and the Waterfalls close to the town.

He even taught boxing classes to some of the local kids and has made friends in his accidental new hometown.

He said:

"I go to run every morning and I could see Machu Picchu afar in distance,"

"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 tells us that he will leave Peru for Japan on October 16. As he prepares to head home, he is saying goodbye to the townspeople who have become his friends over the past months. Several local children have drawn Katayama pictures and created a doll for him out of toilet paper rolls.

"I will definitely cry," he says about his farewell to Aguas Calientes. "These seven months have been very special to me. I have discovered a new part of me."


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