By: Quinn Mullineaux, ` 19
Preceded by a final tour of an Incan ruin, our last full day in Peru concluded in Cusco city. Named “sexy woman”, after its more challenging Incan title Saqsaywaman, the ruin, like all the others before it, was spectacular, and it’s construction continued to challenge the limits of technology even today. A tunnel stretching almost a mile from the ruin to Cusco, with a reputation of killing ill prepared travellers in deep water and dark corners attracted the attention of the brave, was unfortunately blocked off, preventing our exploration. Taking the less lethal route down on the road, we soon arrived in the city. Despite what was a tiresome walk for some, our final day in Cusco city was exciting. On todays date, converged two separate celebrations, one of the Cities ‘birthday’ and one of Inti Raymi, the Incan celebration of the sun. Needless to say, the city was alive with parades, celebratory masks, and overwhelmed police officers tasked with keeping an eye on the crowd of thousands.
Despite expressing explicit joy in the food of the homestays, everyone was relieved to eat what resembled a more average lunch. To escape the excitement of the city we decided to spend our afternoon in a local shopping center. Some chose to spend the time collecting gifts for family while others practiced their Spanish and haggled over the prices of local goods. Stories of more aggressive shopkeepers kept us entertained until our final dinner of Chinese-Peru fusion food, which was certainly a treat.
Concluding our day, we held our last meeting, and discussed both what we wished to keep with us, and what we have left behind for the Peruvians to remember of us. Despite the bittersweet realization of our departure, it was obvious that everyone had not only learned about the culture of Peru, but had succeeded in experiencing and joining in on some of their most sacred moments, from the celebration of the mother earth, to discussing politics and nature over a game of UNO at the dinner table.
Despite the small amount of time we had spent here, our daily discussions and nightly meeting revealed that we had become far more than community service workers or tourists to our families and the communities. Our impacts on the community of Piscacucho may not have been permanent, but the experience of interactions and the feeling of becoming part of a new community is one we will certainly never forget. Between sharing serious ideas with people like Hermano Vidal, and laughing about the funny Quechua words we had learned about with our guide, the Peruvian experience is one to be marked as enlightening and unforgettable.