Hey, my darlings!
First of all, there were some interesting things happening in my part of the world. Unfortunately, I missed out on the reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ this weekend... However, last week I accompanied my fellow volunteers and a large group of orphans to one of the strangest events I have ever attended (and I did musical theater and go to Comic Cons). From what I gathered, the event was supposed to be in celebration of all the sports teams in Cusco, and involved a really lame (sadly) Olympic style torch lighting, teams of people in particular color combinations, and lots of people dressed in full character costumes (including but not limited to Peppa the Pig, a knock off Pooh Bear, a pineapple, and Olaf the Snowman). None of us volunteers understood what was going on, but we had a good time and agreed that our understanding probably would not have improved from a change in language.
Now, Machu Picchu was amazing. I learned a lot (unfortunately not from my guide). There was one guy in our group who actually seemed to know more about the Quechua people than our guide, though that may have had more to do with the fact that he lied about his ability to speak English and less about his actual knowledge. On that note, one of the things our guide actually did teach us is that the people as a whole are the Quechua (Ketch-wa), the term "Inca" was only used in reference to the king. We also learned about the significance of the Condor bird in Machu Picchu, complete with a temple, as well as many other amazing things.
I ended up spending about 7 hours at Machu Picchu with some new friends that I made. The experience was made better by the fact that these friends were all so interesting: 1) the Spanish hairdresser, dressed in running tights, 2) the French woman travelling alone because her boyfriend prefers staying in fancy hotels and she likes hostels, ready to spend her last night in Lima in a 100 dollar hotel complete with a pool with her nylon bag, hiking backpack, and leggings-- a true queen, 3) the Italian English teacher who is now retired and spending her time volunteering with a women's center in Cusco to help teach English. All of them had such interesting and inspiring outlooks on life. I hope that some day I can inspire some other young people the way that the people I keep meeting on my travels inspire me.
Back to learning about one of the wonders of the world, though. It turns out that the mountain that you see right next to Machu Picchu is not Machu Picchu mountain, though it is near a place you can see the Inca face made up of the mountains, which is actually pretty awesome. In addition, it was just a really amazing uplifting, and almost spiritual experience just to be there, surrounded by quartz rock buildings and llamas. In terms of the buildings, I took part in a rather interesting conversation pertaining to the shapes-- perhaps circular shapes were considered too holy, since the Quechua worshiped both Sun and Moon... Mostly, this theory arose within our group upon seeing the distinct lack of circular shapes within the wonder/ ruin/ amazing piece of history.
I will leave you with this vaguely disturbing tidbit, one that fits a bit too well into the universe of Indiana Jones (which I hate, by the way). The most beautiful female children were chosen to live in a particular temple on the grounds. The most beautiful when they reached adulthood were human sacrifices, the next tier down were chosen as wives of the king, and the last rung were forced to live the entirety of their lives until they died from natural causes. Typically the sacrifices took place in the Temple of the Sun (designed specifically so that no matter the season, the sun would still hit particularly spiritual angles etc). The heart was the most important part, and was used as the sacrifice to the Sun, then the body was cut into pieces and distributed by class. Obviously the poorest people got the hands and feet, while the priests got whatever the next best thing to the heart was. After all that wonderful cannibalism, the skulls of the sacrifices were placed in the center of the compound as a reminder of the wonderful afterlife the sacrifices received; rebirth.
Love you all so much, and I would love to hear any questions you come up with,
Everyday Acts of Activism