Peru 2002 (part 4)
The next day we got up, boarded the bus, and headed to the small Quechua village of Cinchero which is famous for it’s weavers and textiles. We attended a lecture on the weaving process and then had the opportunity to shop. After the lecture, we had lunch at the home of one of the weavers. The food was basic, but good. Then we returned to Cusco for a walking tour of this capital of the Incas. Our first stop was the Incan Qoricancha Sun Temple in the heart of Cusco. Most of the site had been converted to a monastery, but there were parts where you could see the old Incan walls. Afterwards, we walked over to the Cathedral on the main square. The inside of the Cathedral was spectacular, but being renovated, so we only saw parts of it. Our guide would show us some of the old religious paintings and then point out some aspects of the old Incan religion that were put into the paintings. The Incans considered the sun, the moon, and the snake sacred and in most of the religious paintings you could usually find one if not all of these symbols. To stamp out the native religion, the Spanish built their churches and monasteries on sacred Incan temples. Yet, while some of the people accepted the Catholic religion, they still found ways to integrate part of their ancient religion into the art and traditions of Catholicism in Cusco. After we left the Cathedral, we wandered among the old city where many of the Incan walls still exist and are used. We also visited the San Blas neighborhood of Cusco which is famous for its artists. We had more shopping time and more time for the tumi quest. I can’t begin to tell you how many stores I went in looking for tumi. I did find some tumi, but they were small, cheap, and had Peru written on them. Like duh! Where else would they be from? The tumi quest was not going well. And this is after our guide assured us that we could find anything we wanted in Cusco.
The next day we headed out into the hills surrounding Cusco to an important Incan site. The massive Incan fort Sacsayhuaman (pronounced sort of like sexy woman) was on a hilltop overlooking the city. The original design of the fort was in the shape of a jaguar, a sacred animal in Incan lore. The ruins were pretty massive and commanded an imposing view of the city. After we explored the ruins, we headed up into the hills to take part in a healing ceremony with an Incan shaman. Beside a large rock, the shaman blessed various items (roots, corn, candy, etc) and then wrapped them in a cloth. After blessing the package, he then performed a healing ceremony on all of us, and then burned the package in a small fire. It was interesting. Afterwards, we went to a textile factory that specializes in alpaca wool, which is one of the finest wools in the world. I looked around a bit and finally broke down and got a really nice sweater. Then we headed back into town to lunch and then we had the afternoon to ourselves. I, of course, was on the tumi quest. Shop after shop I searched. I finally decided to buy a big stone tumi since I was convinced that I wasn’t going to find the bronze kind I was looking for. Our last night in Cusco, we had a farewell dinner since our guide was not going to return to Lima with us. The dinner included some folk dancing that included not only Indian dancing, but some Peruvian-Spanish dancing. Afterwards, I went to an internet café to check email and then walked around the city. Cusco was not only the capital of the Incan civilization, it is also the center for tourism in Peru and there was actually some night life in Cusco. But we had another early wake up, so no fun for me.
The next morning we had the first flight from Cusco to Lima. All went well and we were back in Lima by mid morning. We had time to go to the hotel again before we headed out for one last museum stop, the Gold Museum. The Gold Museum is a private museum owned by a Peruvian man who bought up every piece of gold artifact they could. Most of the Incan gold was melted down and sent back to Spain, but as additional ruins and tombs were discovered, this man tried to buy as much as he could. Apparently, about two years ago there was a big scandal about how up to 50% of the collection in the museum were fakes. Either they weren’t gold, or they weren’t antiques. Since then his family has brought in scientists to test the artifacts to authenticate them. Still, the museum was amazing and just full of gold. The quantity of artifacts this family collected was astounding. Outside of the museum there were several shops and I finally found a tumi that I liked. It wasn’t nearly as big or as nice as the one I saw in Pisac market, but it was okay. So the quest was ended. It didn’t end well, but it ended. We had the rest of the afternoon off and then we had dinner before heading to the airport to catch our flight back to the US.
Getting out of Peru and back to Washington DC was a bit of a haze. Delayed flights, numerous security searches, missed connections, etc. But we finally returned home late the next afternoon, just absolutely beat. But we had been to Peru, walked along the Sacred Valley, climbed Machu Picchu and hiked parts of the Incan trail. So I think the trip was very successful.