Editor’s Note: As this blog goes to print, Machu Picchu is closed to visitors due to COVID-19. Together with Peter Murphy, we are reminiscing about Machu Picchu, waiting for the day when we can return.
Hello from Peter Murphy (again). I’m the sometimes videographer/photo volunteer helping to document the work performed by volunteers with ConservationVIP. Working with the leadership, I’ve joined teams from Scotland to Machu Picchu and places in between.
Before my time with ConservationVIP, my relationship with Machu Picchu started in 1969 when I graduated from the American School of Lima, Peru. My parents sent me there as a graduation from high school present. The 1969 trip was the first and last real quality time I had with my father in Peru. (We did meet again many times later back in the US). You can see some of the frames I shot with his medium format camera in Cuzco and MP. One of the images matches “then” to “now”.
In 2013, I made my first trip with ConservationVIP to MP. It was very special…a return to a place that I thought I’d left behind. But the opportunity came and I seized it. I corresponded with ConservationVIP Board Chairman Gene Zimmerman and actually met with CEO Chris Braunlich before we sealed the deal (I guess I passed muster). Anyway, in November of 2013, there I was in Cuzco with the group leaders, a team of volunteers and our guide, Santiago.
At 11,000 feet or so, Cuzco has an interesting effect on the human body…mine anyway. The thin air made my mind swirl and the scene…so reminiscent of my visit…got me to spinning in its own way.
But it was off and running on our first morning, learning about the culture from Santiago and visiting special places like the Qorikancha and the cathedral. We made a special visit to Sacsayhuaman above the city on a day trip and learned about the special events that happen there each June in honor of the Inca during the days of the Inti Raymi celebration of solstice.
Following our brief stay in Cuzco, it was off to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. We stopped along the way in Chinchero for a visit with local weavers who treated us to lunch… Cuy was on the menu…local guinea pig. Quite tasty and once reserved only for royalty.
Hustling through Ollantaytambo (we’d be back later for a visit), we boarded the train to Aguas Calientes, or Machu Picchu Village. The next day was a great visit to Machu Picchu with Santiago explaining its significance along the way.
Our workplace was Chachabamba…an outpost on the Inca Trail next to the Urubamba River. We worked there for a few days. We cleaned, removed lichens and moss, and otherwise worked to keep the ruins intact, It was an extraordinary activity for a group of Americans to get “hands on” a royal Inca way-station.
I have to say the entire experience was profoundly rewarding and I hope that these photos tell the story.