Viaje al “Ombligo del Mundo”: Cusco y Machu Picchu
Alright, so I’ve been falling behind a bit in my blogging. With all of the traveling and school-related obligations taking precedence in my recent life, I seem to have let my blog fall by the wayside. No longer! This update is an exciting one. It takes place in the “Ombligo del Mundo” (or Bellybutton of the World) –> Cusco and the famed Machu Picchu.
I must say, IFSA organizes its programs well. I couldn’t have planned a better trip myself. Our viaje got off to a bit of a slow start at the airport (our flight was delayed due to poor weather conditions in Cusco)…however, that was probably the only “negative” thing I would have to say about the trip (It’s even difficult to use the word negative here because, as weird as it may sound, I’ve been rather fond of airports since early childhood days.) Immediately upon de-boarding, we found ourselves on a private tour bus en route to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman (Native Quechua for “Sexywoman”), a breath-taking Incan ceremonial fortress constructed of immense boulders that were said to have once taken the shape of a puma head (ancient symbol and guardian of the land).
Sacsayhuaman was only the first stop on a tour of 4 other ancient ruin sites on the outskirts of beautiful Cusco. After spending nearly 2 and half months in the heart of Lima (a “megapolis” and the second largest desert city in the world), it was nice to trade in the traffic and combi travel for some fresh mountain air and the green countryside of the Peruvian Sierra. Luckily, the rest of the trip leading up to the ascent of Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu was full of natural air activities: Trips to the ruins of Pisac and Ollantatambo (more pre-incan ruins), a trip to a llama and alpaca farm in which “fair trade” workers crafted intricate alpaca goods on-site, and a quirky train ride aboard Peru Rail (that included a rather odd fashion show as entertainment in which the train attendants hoped to sell us their wears.) One of the most interesting stops was a bit off the beaten path, seemingly untrodden by extranjeros: a local sustainable farming project just outside of town. This was an incredible initiative. Created and led by an andean woman, the initiative serves to put women of the sierra in charge of their own lives in this capitalistically, tourist-dominated region of Perú. Specifically, the women maintain their own plots of land, on which everything that they need to eat or grow to survive is planted: fresh camomile for tea, lima beans (especially for use in a festive hot drink…quite tasty), potatoes (of course, Perú wouldn’t be Perú without its seemingly endless variety of potatoes), and a rustic pen FULL of cuy (that would be guinea pig, the local delicacy.) After being treated to a feast of their various alimentaciones (see below for the sumptuous spread), I couldn’t help but notice how tranquil the area was. A tiny plot of land, growing everything that I would need to survive, surrounded by the natural majesty of the sierra with a picturesque, crystalline lake serving as a backdrop; I am certainly thankful for all that I have been given in life, however, times like these not only put into perspective the blatant abuses of our capitalistic world, but also serve as reminders that our natural world, in all of its beauty, is, and was, and is yet to come. We must only use it, protect it, and recycle its constituent parts.
Thus, I will leave you with a few more pictures of the breathtaking Machu Picchu and the quaint city of Cusco…a sight that will not soon be forgotten! (When I return from my trip to Chincha and El Carmen this weekend, I’ll backtrack to fill y’all in on my previous travels: The Central Selva (Jungle) and Arequipa, Puno y Lago Titicacca!)
Ciao and a happy beginning to the holiday season!