|After our day in Machu Picchu, I really thought I had seen and understood all of the Incan ruins Peru had to offer. So when our guide Edwin and teachers Mike and Denice told us we were going to another archeological site I thought to myself, “Really? What else is there to possibly see?” I quickly reminded myself this tour was another opportunity to learn and bond with my classmates. Still though, as the bus passed signs indicating we were close to Saksaywaman, a few of us grumbled knowing we’d soon become displaced from our comfortable seats on the bus but I was eager to see more. We somewhat reluctantly pulled ourselves off the bus and to our surprise were greeted by a small herd of alpaca!
The mood immediately changed and the group was all smiles. I think we could all agree that Saksaywaman did not disappoint. Edwin reinforced the ideas and spirituality of the Incans, and I felt a special connection here. Duality of day-night and life-death and the power of three were just some of these points and they really hit home as we admired the view of Cusco below us.
During Edwin’s tour we got to walk through underground tunnels the Incans used as short cuts and slide down a natural rock formation! I think I speak for everyone when I say that Saksaywaman was a great follow up from Machu Picchu.
Once we returned downtown we explored the market and prepared for our special scavenger hunt. There were hundreds of stands in the enclosure, some of them selling identical products right next to each other, fighting for our business. The air was pungent, the smells of raw meat and fish mixing with fresh flowers and street food wafting in from outside. You could buy a variety of items between a plate of rice, eggs, and papas fritas (which me and another student did purchase against Edwin’s advice) and homemade alpaca sweaters!
We were given a list of food items and nic-nacs to purchase and tasked with having our picture taken in a goofy situation. I remember secretly hoping to be put on Marjorie’s team, the only one of us proficient in conversational Spanish. I was sure whatever team she was on would win. My competitive attitude was slighted when I learned Marj would not be on my team but it rekindled when I realized that I could actually probably get my team through the hunt with the very little Spanish I knew. To be honest I’ve wanted to be fluent in Spanish for a long time and I was excited to practice speaking with the locals in the market! It turns out I knew a lot more than I thought and team snake came out with 2 wins! I hope to return to Cusco someday and make my across the city speaking fluent Spanish.