The Andean Culture- Part 1

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Our family trip to Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu taught us some fascinating tidbits about the ancient Andean culture, still celebrated and honored today in Peru. This is part 1 of a weekly series that will continue throughout January. Please note that the pictures I post are my own and the information I share comes from our tour guides and from a book I purchased about Machu Picchu.

When Peruvians refer to their Andean culture, they are speaking of those peoples who originated with the Inca empire.

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Located in the southeastern region of Peru, in the domain of the Andes mountains, Cusco is well over 3,000 meters above sea level (that’s over 10,000 feet).

Cusco holds significant meaning to the Andean culture because it was once the center of the Inca empire. Today, Cusco is considered to be Peru’s historic capital.

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At its peak of success, the Inca empire stretched into Chile and Columbia and other South American countries that border Peru today, but then the Spaniards came along and completely took over. The Spaniards murdered, plundered and destroyed most of what the Incas had built up (except for Machu Picchu which went undiscovered for centuries), all for the love of gold and the pursuit of the Spanish crown. Ironically, these power hungry Spaniards also introduced Christianity to the sun-worshipping Incas, which is why today, Cusco is a vibrant mix of both the Andean and Catholic religions, merged together.

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For example, it is customary for each roof top to sport 2 bulls on either side of a Catholic cross. The Andean bulls are a good luck charm.

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In the main square of Cusco there stands a towering cathedral which was built on top of what was left of the Wiracocha Inca Palace after the Spaniards plundered it for gold. This took place in the 1530’s.

Inside the cathedral hangs a unique painting of the Last Supper. This replica depicts Christ and His apostles eating cuy, which is a traditional Andean meat that is considered a delicacy. Cuy is guinea pig.

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Peruvians raise guinea pigs solely for food and sometimes when you order cuy in restaurants you get to select your guinea pig as if it were a lobster.

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I took this picture of Marissa holding a lamb, standing next to a woman in traditional Andean clothing, outside the cathedral. My friendly advice to anyone visiting Cusco, wishing to take a similar picture with their child, is to negotiate the cost of each picture before you snap it. (Or feel generous and remember these people live a hard life.)

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas week already! I bet you’re doing some of the same activities we’re doing here in Peru. We’re baking Christmas cookies. We’re listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. We’re wrapping Christmas presents. We’re reading, A Christmas Carol, as a family. And we’re preparing to celebrate Marcus’ 12th birthday on Christmas Eve.  My baby is growing up. He’s now a young man.

The other day, my maid, her mother and her sister stopped by to visit me. They gave me these snowmen and Santa which they hand-made together, just for me. So cute! I love homemade gifts.

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While all these activities and gifts are fun and festive, I have not lost sight of the true reason for Christmas. I am so thankful to a loving Father in Heaven who gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior and Redeemer.

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Such an amazing gift! My wish is that we all feel His infinite love for us as we celebrate His birth.

I am going to take a break from posting for the rest of the week so that I can focus all my time and energy on my family. This is precious time with my 2 oldest who are both starting at universities in January. I am going to miss them so much, but I am proud of their desires to continue their educations.

I want to thank my followers for supporting my blog. It means a lot to me and I hope you’ll continue to visit next year. In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Our Trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu

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While you were enjoying the Christmas videos I posted, we were on a family trip to Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. It was an amazing trip, and I’ll be sharing more of what we learned about the Andean-Peruvian culture after Christmas. For now, here are my favorite highlights:

Day 1- We flew from Lima to Cusco, checked into our hotel, and after a couple hours of relaxation to help us adjust to the high altitude, we went on a private tour of the city and surrounding ruins.

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Day 2- We stayed in Cusco another day and went on a private tour that included the salt mines of Maras.

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Day 3- We were picked up from our hotel, and on our way to the Sacred Valley, we stopped at a rescue shelter for native Andean animals such as the llama, alpaca and condor.

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Day 4- We enjoyed a day of leisure at a luxury resort in a town nestled in the Sacred Valley.

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Day 5- We took a train from the Sacred Valley to the town called, Aguas Calientes (Hot Waters), where we hopped onto a bus that drove us up scary switch-back roads until we arrived at the gates of the famous Machu Picchu.

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Days 6 & 7- We spent one night in Aguas Calientes. The following afternoon, we took the train to the Poroy station where a driver picked us up and returned us to the same hotel we had stayed at the first two days in Cusco. We spent one night there, and flew back to Lima the following afternoon, but not before witnessing a peaceful protest that filled Cusco’s main square.

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