November 26, 2016
Before I began the voyage, everyone would ask me which country I was looking forward to the most. One of the countries that I would mention was Peru because I’ve always wanted to see Machu Picchu ever since I learned about it in my Spanish class during my freshman year of college.
There are no words to describe how beautiful Machu Picchu was—from the marvelous vast mountains, the precise Incan landscapes, the aweing temples, the llamas running around, and so much more. No matter where you stood or where you were while going through the citadel, you found people at their absolute happiness.
Machu Picchu was made by the Incans and is believed to have been a summerhouse for the King of the Incas. It is located in the vast Andes Mountains and is built with various rocks, which are put together like Legos. Machu Picchu is located in Cusco, Peru. In order to get to Machu Picchu you can either hike a 1-4 day trip, or take a train and a bus up. I took the train and bus up due to time constraints. The train ride itself was so picturesque as well as we were surrounded by the vast biodiversity of trees and plants, as well as the Andes mountains which were not only lush with green but some also had snow on the top. As a side note, there are many bugs that SAS students believe are “sand flies” that when bite many parts of your skin and the bites immediately bleed. Many students had a lot of bites and parts of their body became painfully swollen; I was very lucky I didn’t get bit because I wore a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and bug spray.
The day after visiting Machu Picchu, we were able to visit another Inca Ruin called Moras. This ruin was an agricultural depository with about 10 rings and each ring was half a degree different than the other. This allowed the Incas to plant a diversity of crops. Peru is very well known for having a diversity of crops and endemic crops. Food is very much a part of their heritage and is partly why they are one of the top countries in culinary/gastronomy.
After visiting Moras, we visited the Misminay Community. The Misminay Community is a very indigenous community who lives in the Andes and still follows many of the ancestral/Incan practices. The women who wore handmade red skirts, blanket shawls, and white hats welcomed us with handmade bracelets, while the men in handmade brown ponchos and beanies played some Andean flute music. The community made us a big homemade meal with mint tea, corn soup, sautéed meat, and a dessert made from dehydrate potatoes. Afterward, they showed us many of the activities they partake in. First they showed us how they do agriculture and how everyday they do a small ceremony to “Pacha Mama” aka Mother Earth. They also showed us how to make adobe for their houses. The women showed us how they weave blankets, table runners, and bracelets. The material they use is alpaca fur, which they clean with a natural plant used in detergent, then thin it out, and then dye to a specific color by using various natural elements from sage to get a green color, and a parasite bug to get red. The women also gave us a quick cooking demonstration where we grinded with rocks nuts, herbs, and pepper to make a tasty dip. We also were given some of their clothes to wear as we rode donkeys around the neighborhood. While slightly modern, the Misminay Community gives a glimpse of Incan practices and indigenous practices found only in the mountains and not in the city.