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South America » Peru » Cusco » La Convención » Quillabamba
April 19th 2014
Published: April 19th 2014
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Our chief archaeologist has now joined us. Due to the basically all new work force of volunteers, we spend the day getting situated in our valley. We drive from ruin to ruin in the morning, walking into the sites, sometimes through wandering paths and sometimes on the Inca Trail itself. We cross over a suspension bridge. We walk through a tea plantation. We find rocks tumbled, rocks intact as walls, rocks covered in moss and ferns, or sometimes fully cleared and restored. There is so much work here, it may never be done. Always, we are surrounded by lush vegetation, reaching up to eat oranges that are falling from the wild trees at this time of year. Water and bird sound follow us, and the trees open up to show us stunning vistas of the mountains all around us. The bugs aren't even a real concern. It does seem like paradise. One of the sites we visit is majorly restored and protected. It is a religious site where there was a walled plaza and a circular platform formed from the hill and walled with rock. On top of this platform they would sacrifice lamas in seasonal rituals and humans when the earth shook. This site is centred in the valley and gives incredible views.

Back at home we had another marvellous and huge lunch before we got a complete tour of El Establo. They had waited a week knowing that we would get more volunteers. They have a nursery for trees. There are citrus trees. There is a corn field. There is a passion fruit arbour field, there are chickens, geese, and hamsters (they are a source of meat here). This place is truly fascinating. Then the afternoon was free, but we are having corn bread tomorrow. That means that you have to peel the thin skin on each kernel of corn. The corn here is much larger and fibrous than ours. I started working on it, like meditation, but finally Isa, our cook, asked everyone to help. We were done in time to go to town, but I stayed at El Establo to read and write.

The next day was all about machetes. We went to the primary archaeological site that the project is working on. There are 5 buildings discovered so far, one has been cleared and the other 4 have not. Two of our group helped Zenovio (the other archaeologist) map the cleared building. The rest of us took out the machetes and started clearing the other sites. We go through 2-3 inch thick trees. We take out thin saplings. It is hard and completely satisfying work. You can see the results immediately. We follow the ridges of dirt that sometimes erupt with a moss covered layer of rock wall. We know that there are walls under the dirt and the thought of excavations is daunting. We may get to excavating before I leave if I am lucky, although I love the swing of the machete, and could do this work the entire time. To get to this site we traveled in our bus for an hour. The way winds up high into the mountain across from our home in the valley. It was a cloudy day so the mountains were wreathed in clouds and you felt that you were traveling in sky. We reached the start of the path and had a 1/2 hour climb to the ruins. We were trekking through wet green undergrowth along a narrow trail. Then the trail opened up into the cleared area of the ruins. Everything feels mystical here. The return down the mountain was just as beautiful, but eyes closed frequently due to the hard work done. I went into town with the daily trip so that I could have a beer. I felt I deserved it. We had pizza for supper when we returned and the coordinator for the program arrived finally, after being ill in the hospital up till now. Pizza is cooked in the half sphere wood oven in an out building. They roast/dry corn and make corn bread there as well. It felt very festive, all of us ferrying dough and then hot pizzas back and forth to the main building. Another lovely day.

Good Night and Sweet Dreams


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27th April 2014
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machete work
Hi my dear, Who knew you would have an affinity for machete work. It sounds faery strenuous. You were strong before you left but expect Amazon Woman will return home with all the climbing and swinging. There is something satisfying about working where you can see the results immediately and obviously ( unlike teaching which takes time to see the seeds of your work come to bloom). You must be learning a lot about this Incan culture. Do you ever wonder how they might have progressed and turned out if they hadn't been wiped out. love you to bits. Jxo

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