On our final half day of the Peru Trip, the GAF Fellows had a wonderful time exploring Cusco. The primary event of the day was the San Pedro food market. We spent 45 minutes roaming through aisles filled with various foods and accompanied by unique smells. It was a great experience to better understand the culture of Peru, since food is often the gateway to the heart of a culture, and in that sense we got to see and understand Peru in all its complexities.
Then the GAFs had free time to shop and eat lunch in Cusco. Brammy and I went into one of the beautiful churches on the Plaza de Armas, the central square in Cusco. Built on Incan foundations, the church’s splendor belies its savage creation.
Finally, the GAFs started the long trip home. Suffice it to say, Peru is an amazing country, and the Quechua culture hidden inside is even more amazing. It was an honor for all the GAFs to learn more about such an intricate and beautiful culture while having fun adventures along the way. Going on a trip like this changes a person, and all the 19’s and 21’s grew in one way or another, whether it be in leadership through daily jobs, or in knowledge through daily interactions with the local people. In the end, even with the jaw-dropping Machu Picchu and its incredible Inca engineering, the truly important part of Peru is the people, who still invigorate a great human culture. We are all thankful for the amazing opportunity to go to Peru, and excited to go back to continue to help the Quechua people and expand on the relationships we fostered with various NGOs during the trip.
-Daniel Moscoso ’19
Today was our final full day at Cusco, and we maximized the potential of the day. After an early wake up, we met with our energized tour guide and drove up to an altitude of 13,000 feet to visit a local village called Patabamba, which boasted incredible views of the Andes in an isolated location. We were greeted in flowery fashion by the town council and spoke with them, asking questions about their technology, government, and education to better understand their way of life. Afterwards, we bounced along a dirt road to visit a sacred lake which was undergoing conservation efforts, and there we performed a ritual to honor Mother Earth using rocks and snacks, holding hands in a circle around our offering. In the afternoon, we learned about the medicinal plants in the area, which were used to replace the need for hospitals far away from the village. They plastered our aching joints with leaves to help with the pain and hit our hands with spiky plants — each plant with its own special purpose. We enjoyed the spirit of reciprocity, or ayni, at the village, and in our evening meeting, we discussed ways we could help them in the future. Finally, we dined at a lovely restaurant and had an early night.
— Brammy Rajakumar (’19)
Peru blog July 14:
Finding constellations in the shadows of the Milky Way takes imagination; it takes less imagination to crush the progress of such a civilization underfoot. Juxtaposing the nature-centered, sacred places of the Incas, like Machu Picchu, to the almost gaudy splendor of the Basilica Cathedral, the metaphor of Cusco deepens. The sheen over the Incas’ history is apparent when walking down the streets where the perfectly cut Inca walls meet the Spanish stucco or when noticing that the indigenous beliefs are confined to subliminal messages in Catholic places of worship. The common thread between the architecture, the artwork, and even the recognized constellations in the realm of astronomy is that the imagination and genius of the Incas’ could not be replaced by the Spanish.
Ellie Thornton ’19
The Global Affairs Fellows woke up bright and early for breakfast at 7:30 at the Apu Lodge in Ollantaytambo, followed by a morning meeting with Bridget, our leader of the day. We took a break in the main square to exchange American dollars for Peruvian money (Sol). After exchanging money, we met two women who work with Awamaki and traveled with them to the community of Huilloc to meet the weavers that the company supports. Together we all drove up to the mountain, stopping twice to see terraces built by the Incas and one of the oldest Catholic Churches in Peru before reaching our final destination. We arrived around 11am, and were greeted by the women who welcomed us with smiles and offered to clothe us in their traditional garments. The Awamaki women proceeded to show us dyeing, weaving, and loom techniques, and were very welcoming towards us. They gave us flowers on a necklace, clothing so we felt less estranged, and provided us with a delicious lunch. We sadly left the women at 3 pm, to go back to the city for dinner, and to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. When we got home, everyone split for dinner, and met at back at 5:50 to plan on catching a 9pm train. Bridget did an amazing job keeping everyone in order, and the Awamaki women were amazingly friendly despite the language barrier we all experienced. -Annie Livingood ’21