i´m practically an inca now. i´ve made my pilgrimage to Macchu Picchu and it was grand.

the Inca Trail was absolutely amazing. 4 days and 3 nights- if the internet was working better i would post pictures and spare you all the rambling. what is there to say? we walked a long way every day. it was very steep, very hot, sometimes it rained. We camped in the heavens, saw amazing ruins, and arrived eat Macchu Picchu in style (not really. i rocked my ¨northwest flow¨ outfit, shorts over spandex, and came to regret it after examining the photos.) Everyone else figured out how to bring nothing but tiny little day packs. Joey and I rocked 30 pound legit backpacks. They made fun of us until we supplied playing cards and even a bottle of rum on the last night. 

It was an amazing opportunity to check out Peruvian culture, antique clearly, but also modern. Porters carry obscene loads on their backs, hike in sandals made from tires, and make very very little money.  They leave their families and ways of life in rural communities to hike the Inca Trail at least 1, sometimes 2 a week, cook, clean, set up tents, etc. There is a union for porters but it is very corrupt and fails to protect the people. The state also has laws but they don´t seem to do their job. The youngest porter was under 17, the oldest was almost 60. and Its not an easy trail. to put it mildly…

If anyone who reads this DOES plan on hiking the Inca Trail, go with LlamaPath. The porters are well clothed and fed. They work only 4 months out of the year to minimize the impact of taking men out of rural communities to work on the trail. They have real backpacks instead of Peruvian sacks that tie in the front around the neck. I was happy to support their efforts and did not feel that my money was supporting oppression. Our porters (and yes, we felt very proud and possessive of them) were laughing, joking, and always clapping and even singing. They were a team, always walked together, and took turns doing everything. I felt GREAT about the organization. Excuse the shameless advertising plug, but I hope this can be my little part in promoting a good cause. LlamaPath. check em out.

The porters and the guide thought i was a real hoot. partially because i had visited their communities on health campaigns (or at least HEARD of their communities), secondly because i tried to speak Quetua. Third, because i lent one of them my ipod for the trip. 4th, because when I introduced myself I accidentally said that I lived in black lingerie instead of in the town of Yanahuara. hahaha….throw me a bone. Quetua is a  REALLY frustrating language to learn.

After making it home to Urubamba, saying farewell to my lovely host family, and getting haphazardly to Cuzco, Joey and I took a 16 hour bus ride to Haunachina, Perú. The Andes mountains have been replaced by equal sized sand dunes. Its very hot. and very…different. I miss Urubamba already, but i suppose a pool side bar-b-que will have to suffice. We went on a wine tour yesterday. Peruvian wine is really Pisco that hasn´t fully fermented yet. The process is unique…and kind of gross. BUT, the gentlemen of the bodegas were very proud and happily showed us around, filling up our little sample cups many times over.

I´ve talked Peruvian politics and culture with all sorts, potato farmers from Chupani, Ministers of Education from Urubamba, professors from Cuzco, tour guides and porters on the inca trail, and now vinard guides from Ica. they all say the same thing…who would we be if we were not a conqured people? What has oppression done to my people? Before i came i wondered why the Peruvians hung so dearly to their Incan heritage, but now it is clear. They still ARE the Incas. it is not history to them, it is their relatives. There was not a new culture after the conquistadors, only Incas who lived in fear. 500 years later this is what you get. Along the way they have suffered massive terrorism and governmental oppression as well. 

home is on Friday. I start my new job and Monday. What a whirwind. i am a different person, i know, but i don´t know to what extent. stay tuned, i´ll let you know when i figure it out.  

paz y amor. alegría

ps. sorry about flaking on the promised postcards. its almost 3 US dollars to send mail from here. not gonna flow on this ï like to work for free¨ budget of mine. But, i do love you. promise.

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