Today we drove to Cusco. The day began with a quick trip to the farmers’ Market in Andahuaylas. It was quite a large one. We enjoyed walking around and visiting our old friends from the field (the plant ones).
We got back to the hotel in order to start the very long day’s drive to Cusco. Uri had been replaced by Pedro since Uri did not know these roads as well and he had to get back to law school. The van then carried Carlos, Chris, David and me as its passengers. The drive was very scenic, but very long and extremely dusty. I sat behind Pedro, who kept his window down the entire time, including when he was passing a truck or a truck passed us. Since it was the dry season and the roads were dirt roads, the car and its occupants, became very dusty. I wrapped a scarf around my nose and mouth so I wouldn’t be constantly breathing in dust. Pedro had been asked repeatedly to crank up his window when a truck passed, but he just couldn’t seem to grasp the message!
We arrived in Cusco (pictured right) in the evening and settled into our hotel. It was very comfortable and it was nice to wash off the dust. Since this is my last driving description, I am going to re-visit an earlier statement that I made: that I was the only woman on this trip.
David has written a posting about the highlights of the tourism part of our trip so I won’t go into too much detail here except to say that Machu Picchu did not disappoint! One can sense a deep mystery that still lies within the ruins so high up in the cloud forest. A mystery that was hidden in the cloud forest for so very long before it was discovered by a Yale archeologist. It has been a lifelong desire of both of us to be able to go there and we are grateful that we could do so on this trip. (Pictured left is Sarah and David at Machu Picchu)
The mountain village that we went to on the small bus up to Machu Picchu, Aquas Calientes, is a charming place which reminded us of the many Japanese Ryokan (Country Inns) David and I visited during the 7 years we lived in Japan. Our last meal with Chris was at the “Felix” which was a wonderful little French-style bistro with great food. David and I went back there later.
A very special stop was to Saqsahuayman (Sarah pictured right) which, as David mentioned, was so special we hired a driver and went back there on our own, early one morning. The massive Incan stones beg the question: “How did they get there?” As we were some of the first few to arrive in the morning it was nice to be able to see it almost on our own. As you walk around, if you look carefully at the stone arrangements, you might be able to pick out some animal patterns. Our guide had showed us what was believed to be a pattern of the Incan condor and the Incan snake.
But our most poignant memories of this trip will be of the program visits where we had a unique opportunity to go where tourists don’t, and what made this trip to Peru so very special was that it was the first visit by such a group into these areas after so many years of isolation due to terrorism. The happiness and contentment on the faces of the men, women and children we met is a gift I will never forget.
So I will leave you now, with a photo of a Machu Picchu hummingbird who was sitting in a bush near me as I was contemplating the magnitude of the monuments around me. Hummingbirds are special to us as we will soon return to our own beautiful home and family where we have a number of highly populated hummingbird feeders. In Native American symbology, the hummingbird totem is a sign of hope and jubilation and I think that is also a fitting symbol for this trip.
Note: If any of you readers have questions about our travels that are not "World Neighbors Program" questions (which are best answered by World Neighbors staff), please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.