Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring Break Part Four: Some Reflection and Final Day in Peru

Our last day in Cusco was a more relaxing, lazy day due to the intensity of the day before in Machu Picchu. I had fully intended on doing an extended hike to some of the ruins outside the city, but due to a lack of interest (on both the people I was with and myself [I needed someone else to be interested because of safety concerns in those particular ruins]) and a general feeling of foot weariness I decided no to. We slept in and had the breakfast we had become accustomed to over the past week in hostels: bread with butter and jam and coca tea to drink. I was ready to get back to Montevideo and have some oatmeal. The rest of the day was taken up with more shopping and wandering of the city. We visited the Coricancha museum, which is the great Sun Temple of the Incas, and had a tour of the catholic church built on its ruins. Then a friend and I hiked up to a large statue of Jesus overlooking the city that we could see from our hostel around dusk, just to say that I had at least started the trek that I had wanted to do earlier that day. After that was a little dinner and some card games. We felt exhausted and certain that it must be midnight when we decided to go to bed. However, when I looked at my watch it was only 9:30. It’s so weird how much our perception of time can be altered.

The next day began our long flight home. We first flew from Cusco to Lima with more amazing views (see Part Two below). Then we had a 9 hour layover in the Lima airport. We all made the best of it with card games, jokes, and reading. Thank goodness all our flights were on time and everything else went smoothly because after a night flight to Santiago and a 3 hour nap in the Chilean airport, tensions were forming in our group and patience was running thin. We made it home all safe and sound, minus some items we had forgotten or misplaced along the way, but with more than enough stories and memories to make up for them.

It’s really hard to know where to begin on a reflection of this trip. As I’m typing this blog entry I’m sitting in a hotel room in Foz de Iguazu on an amazing Brazil trip that has been a lot of fun (you’ll hear more on that later, hopefully before June), but can’t even begin to hold a candle to the Peru trip. I have never downloaded so many pictures from one trip onto my computer before. It is interesting to contemplate why I have so many pictures from our Machu Picchu excursion in particular because most of them all look the same. All of us with cameras were constantly taking pictures of the city even though we were really only getting different angles of the same thing. What made us take so many pictures? I think it can be explained in a spiritual sense: how we are inevitably worldly beings and when we experience something so awe-inspiring, something with beauty that transcends anything we have ever experienced before, something that allows us to see a little bit of God, we have no idea how to respond. As a result, our group resorted to taking picture after picture in hopes of capturing the entire experience, knowing that digital pixels will never do it justice.

Alone on Putu Kusi, I reflected on another thing: the Incan city of Machu Picchu is so impressive due to the Incan architecture built high in the mountains. Man, made in the image of God, can do powerful things. And yet, even with all the blessings that God gave them, the Incan people still worshipped creation: the sun, the moon, the rain, and even the Inca (the leader of the people) himself. What a huge expression of the grace of God, loving humans even while they completely ignore him.

For some final reflection, I’ll leave you with another underdeveloped thought of mine. I learned a lot about the Spanish conquest of Peru and how the Europeans inevitably had a negative, degrading view of the indigenous peoples, often calling them savages or “uncivilized.” What is it that makes someone civilized? The Incas had a sophisticated form of government, miles of roads built high in the Andes, and social structures that allowed many people of different backgrounds to live together. The conquerors came and plundered the towns that they came across, raping women stealing food from the people. I think a lot of us need to reexamine the way we view other people, even if it be subconscious...

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