PERU    
MACHU PICCHU SACRED VALLEY    CUSCO INTI RAYMI
Hotel Libertador Cusco
Lobby of Hotel Libertador
June 25 Tuesday
Cusco
Today offered a slower pace, a chance to unwind after our immersion into so many new and marvelous experiences over the last
eight days. The day began in a leisurely fashion, taking time to arrange our belongings for the trip home, a slower breakfast, a little
reading. We left the hotel for a while, stopping in a nearby shop to buy two Alpaca sweaters---one of the "must" things to buy in
Cusco.
Rosa and Miguel picked us up and we were off for a tour of Cusco. There is a
magnificent cathedral filled with gold and silver altars, chapels and decorations.
Although it is quite astounding to see, it is impossible to forget that the gold and
silver were taken from the Inca civilization at the time of their massacre by
Pizarro and the conquistadors.  The sense of holiness, which a church typically
generates, is severely mitigated by the knowledge of the travesty that occurred.
Because Inca artisans were employed to create most of the artifacts, buried in the
pictures and other works of art are hidden Inca symbols of their ancient religion
and culture. In their humiliation, they rebelled in the ways they could.
Miguel and Rosa
The cathedral is located on the Plaza de Armes where the people were continuing
the festivities of yesterday. Dance and music groups were performing, people
were still milling, parades were forming.  We were amazed by the total
cleanliness of the area after yesterday's crowds and activities. It had all been
cleaned over night. In fact, we were struck with the attention to cleanliness
throughout our trip. Shop owners wash their walkways and store walls each
morning. Streets are always clean. Graffiti is almost non-existent. It is quite
impressive.
Cusco Cathedral
Plaza de Armes Cusco
Our next stop was a return to Sacsayhuaman, the scene of yesterday's  
production.  If we were surprised in Cusco, we were astonished by
Sacsayhuaman. Over night there must have been an army of workers  
scouring the hillsides, plateaus, seating areas, etc. There was not a
scrap of paper anywhere.The crowds were gone, a lone Inca warrior
stood guard, posing for pictures. It was a place alive with ghosts and
spirits of the past.
Sacsayhuaman
Sacsayhuaman was one of the largest Inca complexes built. The exact
purpose of it is not known except it was clearly a place for large events
and gatherings. It was the place of the huge battle between Pizarro and
the Inca warriors.  It is made of gargantuan stones--one of which
weighs 300 tons. The stones are fitted together perfectly without the
use of mortar. Even though you stand looking at it, you have a difficult
time comprehending what your eyes are telling you.
We returned to Cusco and had much of the afternoon to continue
exploration on our own.  Ken and I spent time at several museums,
including the Inca Museum which was very interesting and informative. We
then went in and out of shops, checking out merchandise and buying gifts
for people at home.
That evening Leah, Jon, Rosa, Miguel, Ken and I went to dinner at a nice
restaurant overlooking the plaza. We wanted Miguel to join us even though
he usually does not socialize with the clients. We were honored that he
accepted our offer and wanted to be with us. This was a testimony to the
way we all bonded in an exceptional way during our "Great Adventure on
the Llama Trail." Miguel had become known as "Miguel, Our Hero" and he
seemed to get a kick out of that designation.
Back at the hotel,we finished our packing for tomorrow's flight to Lima and
home.
Cusco, Lima, Home
Today was the end of our wonderful journey--a journey of many memories and high moments.  One of such color and magnificence
that there will forever be a kaledioscope of images at the tip of our consciousness.

We woke early to savor the end. After breakfast we once more went out for a final opportunity to assualt our senses with the color and
vitality of this ancient sacred city and its people.

At 10 Miguel and Magalay picked us up for the trip to the Cusco airport.  We arrived in Lima around 1 PM and after a short stop at the
hotel which was to serve as our day room, we were taken to the Gold Museum which houses some of the few remaining artifacts
from the Inca Empire. As the Spaniards confiscated and either melted down or sent to Spain everything they found, all that is left now
are the few items that managed to elude them.  But------how stunningly spectacular these works of art are!  One can only begin to
imagine the golden splendor that was.  Golden bracelets, necklaces, earrings, gold sheets that would have covered walls, cloaks,
drinking vessels are just some of what was.  The artistry of the creations leaves one speechless.

The Inca Empire clearly equaled any of those on the other continents. That it could have been destroyed so thoroughly is almost
incomprehensible----and yet we know that it happened. It is interesting to dwell on the what ifs. What if the empire had not been torn
apart by internal wars over the right of succcession after the death of Emperor Huayna Capac?  What if Atahualpa had immediately
taken the offensive against Pizarro and his 200 men?  What if Pizarro had been more honorable and less duplicitous? What if Atalualpa
had been less proud and more willing to recognize danger?  History cannot be rewritten but there are times when we wish that it could!
Late that evening we were transferred to the Lima airport for a 1 AM flight to Los Angeles; however, our magic trip ended with an
almost 3 hour delay. Finally, after having been up for 32 hours, we entered our home in San Diego, tired but consumed with magical
memories.
Comments on tour company/transportation:
We arranged our tour with Southwind Adventures. This agency focuses only on the Andes, the
Amazon and the Galapagos Islands. We highly recommend Southwind, as the quality of their
performance is outstanding. They are clearly motivated to give their clients the best in every
aspect--facilities, guides, drivers, pre-departure information, etc. Their web address is:
http://www.southwindadventures.comIf you would like to see more pictures, e-mail me at
jlparke@aol.com and I will send you an album via Shutterfly.
Ken, Jane, Miguel, Rosa, Leah, Jon
June 26-27  Wednesday,  Thursday
PART 4