The altitude was not as much of a horror as I thought it would be, a bottle of altitude medication in my suitcase just in case, my first impressions were the mountains. The red eye flight on LATAM, a Brazilian airlines recently merged part of its business with Delta is new but quite tight in the economy section. It wouldn't of been much to upgrade unlike other airlines note to self. Traveling throughout South America and using this airline I am always so impressed, once you get over the long lines, Chile, Peru, Argentina always the airports I am standing on one line to the next. They are extremely long. Customer service is very good though. Even before we landed, in my haze of no sleep, the Andes rippled below me as we flew from Lima to Cusco. Once here, my eyes could not tear themselves from the giant ranges mind you, I come from a country that is 73% mountains (South Korea) the awesomeness of the Andes maybe it rivals the Rockies in Colorado but I have never been all I can say is it is hypnotic. We drove the winding roads in a little car and I would fall asleep and then wake to the aroma of eucalyptus and then the rush of the Andes again would stun me from my stupor. Here I am below the equator! We arrived to a small village Urubamba it is part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas which is enroute to Machu Picchu, this town, dusty village worn out and humble at first site is not what it seems. This is where the Peruvians live, children run wild making do with rocks as their toys and each other, dogs may outnumber the inhabitants here and once again the walls of mountains 360 degrees. I am in a valley. This is where the Incas did a lot of their farming. Like in Rome you can see the remnants of the great Empire as the foundation of so many buildings. I roamed to the Plaza de Armas and found the colorful market of vegetables and majority of woman with their stained hands of whatever they are selling, Like Mexico the family is a unit always together whenever they can, babies popping out of random bins, boxes, bundles like jack in the boxes. Is it clean? In many ways yes. The sun set with a plastic bag of random vegetables and a bottle of water. I returned on the road that is torn up by hand by men with metal tools, no machines as they fix a water plumbing problem its been months of hard labor and water seems to be scarce. But for us visiting artists we have our own water tank, what a blessing.
The cacophony of roosters had me up at 4:30, 5am? It was still dark out my window. We went on a walk to orientate myself with a map and was shown the bank, the laundry and the organic store, the vegan restaurant, a Palace, the Cemetery, paths, the routes to this village. It still is a mystery. I did some research but much was on preparing for this project. The research focused on the various Asian communities here in Peru and their history, their struggles and contemporary prejudices. Though it is rumored 20% of the Peruvian may have Chinese blood in them but there have been a few laws to discriminate against the Asian communities throughout the centuries. Why so many people may have Asian lineage? Many men were sent over as slave, workers and laborers since the 1500's and the rest is the birds and the bees. This day was crucial. I organize and made a calendar of when and who will be going where. There is a 10 day pass one can the Boleto Touristico Integral 130 soles which allows one time entrance to the must sees in the Sacred Valley. In many of the sites it seems like one can only purchase it in Cusco but wherever they take this pass you can purchase it but it has to be exact change. There are variations on the pass two days and one day depending on what you want to see and where you are going. Each character will be attending some of the same sites but as I am learning there is an Andean flow to life here and I have to let go. Surprises can happen.
A short outing it was to be. A quick hike to the Seven Windows a small Inca ruin near the residency. It was DAY ONE for the BLOND AMBITION BLOGGER to hit the streets! The fabulous wig and blue contacts to animate me into a Caucasian. Why? Throughout my life whenever I say "I am American" I know that there is a side eye glance of disbelief. How can this dark hair, almond shaped eye, round faced, tiny nostrilled woman be American? They are blonde and light eyed aren't they? My students in Korea used to question my citizenship when I taught in Seoul 2008-2012. to continue on, today is WEDNESDAY the big Urubamba market day where people from all over the valley come to sell their harvest, goods and what nots. Well~ back to our hike as I huffed and puffed realizing woah this is more strenuous then it should be it hit me! I am truly 9,420 feet in the air. Mount Washington in New Hampshire is about 6,288 feet, when you jump out of an airplane to sky dive you do it at 10,000 feet just for reference. So I hydrate and take in big swigs of air too. The path is crumbly and dusty though it does rain but I think the air is thinner so the vegetation is dry, cacti plants are blooming and the hills are sprinkled with green. The views are stunning I am finally on one of the ranges and now looking down on the valley. The structure itself was fascinating on how well the preservation was and there is nothing like hiking to make one bond with the other artists in the group. We are lead by the residency coordinator and the conversations were flowing by the walk down however, since I was filming I am starting to notice things I did not see before. A little church, different farmlands and different structures and of course other dogs I did not recognize. But who knows maybe we are going another way to enhance our mapping skills of the area. Ha ha, no we were lost but one is never lost here all roads lead back to the main avenue. A whole morning I wanted to go out to blog was spent bonding instead which is richer for the soul. Lunch which is prepared by the lovely Maritza who is from here and makes us local cuisine from the organic produce, meats and grains. After lunch its time to don the Blond wig and get on out there as the sun strongly reached his rays over and on the mountains I visited the market. The character I am developing is finding her way through and she finds herself in Tater Vera's Ceramic store. Where she meets Manuel a writer, a philosopher.
A morning where there is a bit of a struggle with the bandwidth and I can not seem to get any of the videos up. It was frustrating and then I realized this part of art making, the solution, the problem solving. The videos are quick and I know when I return home I can rework them but there is a surreal quality to go back in time and reviewing it all. Today is one I look forward to. I am not sure if I can edit it all by tonight. This Thursday I put on my black long hair wig and my Korean traditional Hanbok but it is not a real one it is a costume version of one and a full petticoat to give it a full bell form. I must say it was a sensation. In a place where many people are in costume themselves for the sake of the tourist and the mystic it was kind of fun to switch the roles. Instead of me asking them to take a picture with me they were asking to take pictures with me~ this reversal was fascinating. As a blond woman I felt a distance from the locals but as a Korean in a costume herself there was sort of an equal platform. The colors I chose were bright so of course it is attractive and a bit disruptive to their usual visual landscape of people in hiking gear and jeans. I befriended a weaver after she took my photo with the ticket sales person her name was Linda. She was showing me her home, store, products and then we started out to the ruins of Chinchero and she became my guide for the day. She bought along one of the most beautiful blankets/shawls and after the church and as we turned onto the remains of the temple I burst into tears. The lighting was of renaissance paintings and the grand mountains in the background, the energy too I was so taken by it all. We laid the blanket down and had a moment to meditate and I had this urge to massage her and I did and then it started to rain. But that sun still shined and DO YOU KNOW WHAT Chinchero is known for? Yes, the weavers, but it is the birthplace of the RAINBOW and two giant ones graces us, of course.
A rainy day. A rush to dress as a native Peruvian though I am realizing many contemporary "dress" is like anywhere else. Jeans, t-shirt and a jacket though many older women and men dress with some items that is traditionally Peruvian: for women a distinctive hat with a high bowl and a full skirt below the knees and sweater and for men who participate there is the hat with the flaps down the ears and a jacket that is reminiscent of Chinese changshan collarless long sleeve shirt but there is a distinctive woven fabric as trim. I am still learning about the weaving tradition in this area. Each town has their distinct way of trim or pattern to the traditional look.
I put on a black wig and put two long braids which is how many women wear their hair here and though not Peruvian it is a woven dress from Mexico, another culture steeped in its own history of weaving. Though I am realizing Mexican weaving has more of an organic and cubic stylistic look, their symbolisms are more simplified. The weaving I am seeing here, in Peru, looks more refined, very detailed. Though my visual history is very green in both countries and it is just a few days in Oaxaca and now here in this residency please, I am no expert. We ventured to a textile museum and saw the traditional wedding clothing of this region.
There was a room of mostly women and one male weaving in the main room and it was set up the traditional manor where there is center pole and everyone is sets up around it. The sounds were beautiful there were moments of strumming the strings then there is bang and the swoosh of the weaving. Ah, then the confusing moment, each one of the weavers took a look I am wearing a shawl that is traditional (new though and stiff) Peruvian shawl over a woven dress and two long braids and they spoke Spanish to me and then my blankness-- goodness, I did not think this character out. Who am I as this poser, imposter? What is my purpose? I tell them I am Korean and I am an artist trying to fit in as Peruvian woman and I asked did I look like one? Each one I questioned agreed I did pass but it made me ponder many things. As I try to pose as one is it enough to just pass? The initial reason to dress as one was because often I am asked if I am from South America. Though people from here may not see me as Latin. What makes one fit into a race? Is it deeper, something one cannot see then, how can one explain how one is part of society if you can not see it?
The day continues onto a contemporary artist's showroom, Maximo Laura who uses traditional weaving techniques, imagery and modernizes it.
The lush colors alone~ then the artistry and the designs are incredible. In their gift shop I saw a pair of baby alpaca socks that would be perfect for a friend and I realized my atm card was missing. Yup, I left it in the atm machine. So I rushed back to Urubamba, it is a 70 min bus van/bus ride which cost 6 soles ($1.80 or 2000 Won) and rushed back to the machine and thank goodness! I used a machine of a bank that was just a few blocks away. The manger was to be back about 4:30pm and one is not allowed to use their cell phones in banks here but I had to Google translate so~ and when she, the manager, arrived it was so easy. I met her at the atm at the gas station, I had my Driver's license and she opened up the machine after a quick call to central station (somewhere) to have access to it which was only a two minute wait. Voila! A whole pile of cards and there was mine, my little plastic thing that gives me access to so much. I wandered a bit looking for aluminum foil and learned one get it at a stationary store, of course, why not?!
RAINBOW MOUNTAIN without a Tour or Guide
It can be done! Today no costume it was just me dressed as a trekker. This is a place a friend told me about and it immediately went on my bucket list. Its an Instagram sensation that made its presence known in 2015! It is high in the Andes, which is also known as Vinicunca, Winikunka, Montaña de Siete Colores, and Montaña de Colores and the area it is found is still in its rawest Peruvian countryside form and the people are taking advantage of this craze and they should! It is a three hour ride from Cusco and a bumpy, windy ride to be honest by the return ride home I was sort of done. It was the rattle and shakes of the back seat of a van after not even a 7 mile hike but being 14000 feet in the air and hiking to 17,000 feet (5,200 meters), this sea level creature truly tested her body. There was a moment high above where birds of prey just hung out I wondered if they were waiting for one of us to collapse so they could feast for a whole year.
Ah we joined a group of Polish tourists who rented a van and rose early, made sandwiches the night before and trusted the Andean gods and goddesses to guide us. We arrived facing snow peaked mountains and snow falling all around us. Muddy paths and the strong scent of horse manure and trekkers coming down with their walking sticks and wrapped up slowly making their way down. We were a group of twelve embarking on an unknown journey some of us can speak English some of us Spanish and Polish. They were definitely more prepared than we were they had waterproof hiking ankle supporting boots we didn't, I think I was the only one in our group we had treads on her sneakers. But we layered up and had a stock of coca leaves, tea, candy, snacks and started up. I asked a person who came down how was the peak and he said it was covered in snow so he didn't see much and I thought could this city chick do this? Will I see the magnificent site that I been dreaming of though I know many people alter it and hype up the colors? It was sleeting. But I just went for it and thank goodness I did. Slow steps and deep breathes and many breaks. Inti, the sun God melted whatever snow that covered the rainbow mountains and we had the picture perfect moments and because we were in the later end of it all we had it all to ourselves. I cannot imagine what it is like with 100, 1000's of people without oxygen trying to get that shot. It was a feat to remember my wind chapped face took many pictures!! The climb down was even better just one friend together, we had the whole valley and peaks to ourselves, many views I could not remember because it was snowing and there were so many people on the narrow paths. It was a stunning walk down and tranquil we made it to the van before the rains started again.
A Phoenix rising for sure. How I awoke is uncertain but I was alive. I decided to head to Pisac to try to get to the market and the ruins but by the time I was able to organize myself and get my Blond wig on it was 2pm. I walked to the bus terminal and there was no Van and then to the other location to get buses/vans and there was only a bus to Cusco so I decided I would go venture to Sacsayhuaman an Inca Fortress. It is a little of a mile from the city center and there is an uphill path one can hike. As this journey continues, the Andean Gods sat me next to a tour guide named Patrizia who said if I waited a bus would of eventually come to take me to Pisac but with my remedial Spanish, my slow data plan and time not on my side I decided to get on this bus with her. We talked about politics and how impressed I am with the women in Peru or specifically in this region. All the shop owners are women, at the bank it was women, women in high positions. She was telling me though Peru had Spanish influence the Inca's societal equal rights between women and men still permeates through the social structure. Equal pay and equal rights are here and more than ever the women are showing up.
There are different bus routes from Urubamba and this one was taking me closer to Plaza de Armas so the walk would be easy but the site would close soon so she suggested I take a 8 sole taxi to the site, enjoy the views and then walk down. I haggled the price from 15 sole to 8 and it was a quick ride for sure and the views were stunning. "Huaman" in Queche translate to Hawk and it is one of the revered creatures in the Inca traditions the others are Snake and Puma. Like Stonehedge there are giant boulders piled high on this mountain to make this wall, it is wild and like Aztec temples there is no mortar just perfectly glued together, MAGIC! I spend about 90 minutes and then slowly slipped and slid my way down the worn cobbled stone path back to Cusco city. I wandered the romantic streets and then back home.
Day 8 Chinchero and learning about their Weaving
Second week in The Sacred Valley started today. I have a 1:30 meeting with the Director of the program to discuss the readings he passed onto to me to help develop the context of my project. And I planned to head to Maras the salt fields and Moray the mysterious concentric crop circles in the middle of nowhere dressed in my Han-Bok. So our meeting was longer than an hour and it was a beneficial educational conversation, it has been a long time since I read theory based essays and talk about art outside of visual concepts; I am a maker and intuitive creator so it was challenging to talk about art from an art historian viewpoint and anthropologist lens. The sun will set soon and I knew time was of the essence I stuff a few bites of food into my mouth and this time dressed in my costume version of a Han-Bok I wore my pink and sky blue ombre wig with bangs. I thought today it would be interesting to challenge the community with an animated version of my character. The walk down was full of giggles and I got on a collectivo, a local van that is like a bus that travels the valley. I asked to be dropped off by Maras and from there I will haggle for a taxi to take me to the salt ponds and Moray but I knew I could only choose one so I chose the one that I have a ticket for that is part of the Boleto Touristico, Moray. I sat next to two mountains climbers and their dog and they were interesting, we discussed the documentary Free Solo, and it was as surreal for them as it was for me all dressed in my costume. I am sure rock climbing here must be extraordinary but not this journey! They halted the driver and I got off and the skyline is on dusk mode and there is a young man with a beat up station wagon? I didn't even haggle he said 40 sole for the ride, he will wait and the drive back which I thought perfect. The ride was longer than I thought real country side vistas and framers bringing in their animals from the day of grazing. I could see clouds forming and knew I had a short while. We arrived to Moray and I was the only person there beside the ticket attendants.
Moray is a mystery still today but within the concentric circles one can not enter inside but each ring goes deeper into the earth and the temperature is to change and the humidity. The experts believe the Incas used this area to experiment with their terraced farming and their extraordinary vegetation. 4000 different papas, potatoes, and various maize, corn, they knew how to irrigate and store food, a self sufficient society. What is fascinating is each family had their own upper and lower terraced land and was independent to grow their own food. Yes, they had four different classes too: Sapa Inca, Royalty, Nobility, Allyu. Anyway to continue the sun was setting and there were another site to visit but time was running out because I could hear the thunder rumbling and I had to get back to the parking lot to the driver. The sun set quickly and I convinced the kid to drive me back all the way home as lightning decorated the horizon.
Bwhahaha no words for this day~ Still digesting it. I woke a bit heavy headed, the night before I went out with one of the residents for dinner and we went to a bar and hung out with a three year and her bag of toys. Most people live in their place of business so you are always in the midst of the family. The coordinator and I head out early to catch a collectivo to Pisac and now I know where you catch the bus, at another bus station! A beautiful 90 minute ride through a different part of the valley, a bit north to Calca and then east to Pisac. it is renown for their markets, silver and crystal stores and the famous ruins far bigger than Machu Picchu but not as famous. We wander the market stalls and its endless items of hats, shawls, blankets, table runners, placemats, dolls, jewelry, bags, clothing, endless. I was a bit overwhelmed and just slowly found myself heading towards the archaeological park. But first I get my Boleto Touristico punched and sign in, there are posters of a woman missing from last year and it starts to rain. I wait and watch workmen work on a building that will be the main hub for this entrance to the park which is a direct walk from the market square. I am dressed in my native costume made up of a dress from Mexico and a Peruvian shawl and my black wig into two long braids. The ticket person was a bit doubtful about my having a ticket and I was not sure about his unwelcoming attitude but then I opened my mouth and his attitude changed. I signed into the log book and looked at the map while I waited for the rain to pass. The scent of eucalyptus was strong and then the skies started to clear and I decided to start up and did not know it was way UP! I was walking past agricultural terraces not in use anymore and had to stop a lot because I was 2,972 meters (9,750 feet) in the the sky. There were some visitors but not many so there was many moments I was alone on this mountain. I never hiked solo, I am a woman from a city, a child born and raised in cities this was absolutely insane. Was I comfortable? I think so, I just thought I would run up real quick and come back down so did not prepare any water or food just my camera and batteries.
Five hours later I was following a young woman and her 4 year son down from a stone structure that was a temple to the sun and moon and there was a sacred water pool. I met a guide named Michaelangelo and we had a moment together of high ritual where three hawks graced us and he said I was united with the earth and sky. It was powerful and unquestionably another wild moment in my life. Peru continues to take my hand and lead me to places I never imagined.
A day to digest the last 10 days and especially the day before. I worked on a video and took a lovely walk through Urubamba with one of the other residents. The afternoon walk was beautiful, Inti was present, the sun was shining and the shadows were making diagonal lines throughout the landscape. We visited a local cemetery. Katrin is Costa Rican and told me it is typical Latin way of burial, each family has a block, they build a building, mausoleum and the coffins with the bodies slide into each window. I saw window because each one had an altar with a picture of the deceased and usually a handpainted background with their name and years. It was humble even the ones with the fancier tiles and well constructed mausoleums. I started to wonder what happens during the Day of the Dead will they pay respect to their ancestors? To miss Halloween this year, I marched in the parade last year and it was really fun, it is a really fun time to be in New York City, it is one I find that unifies the city.
No one is buried underground unless you are poor? There were sections that were unkempt, the path was a worn dirt road and not cobbled. Humble wooden crosses crown the various precariously placed mounds. You could tell when one was a child or baby by the size of the mound which was sad. Katrin really took moments to read each one and I was sort of wanting to rewrite some of the messy painted names but at the same time it was beautiful to come and say peace to the souls that were once walking the streets of Urubamba.
I finished the day with a delicious meal with the two other residents, we went to this wonderful restaurant, El Huacatay. The food scene is split there are restaurants for the locals and then the tourists and the price point is vast between the two. But after sharing two appetizers and taking home my main course and a giant pot of roobois tea and 10% tip, my portion came to $35. Its very affordable here one of the reasons I enjoy my travels south of the border, my well earned money can Goa few more miles then in other places. Afterwards, we went into a wine store to pick up some bottled water, I am a bit neurotic so I buy water, and I knocked over the Maneki Neko, the Fortune Cat, on the counter and silence haloed us as the young man picked it up from the floor. Dear Paola takes the talisman and starts to perform baby CPR, I start cracking up but Katrin saw intensity in the young gentleman's face and thought we should hurry along. We have two more days and nights as a trio and I have moments of sadness because all good things sometimes have to come to an end.
The 10 of Wands was the pick of the day from my tarot deck, I awoke with a message from a friend saying HAPPY FRIDAY. I thought it was Thursday. Did I sleep for 24 hours and did not notice? Or in my meticulous planning I never scheduled rest days so yesterday did not count! Goodness my Boleto Turistico will end in two days and I must keep shooting and get to some of the other sites! I have literally only 9 more days to shoot, edit and post! How will I do all this and accomplish some of other projects I wanted to finish while I am here to indulge this time of no work. Its been blissful though as Paola pointed out I came and recreated my NYC life here. Running around, seeing alot, making each day dialed up to 10! But how else would this Aries do it?
So it is Blond Jean Day~ I head out to catch a collectivo and go see the smaller sites closer to Cusco that was important to the Inca Empire: Q'enqo, Puca Pukara, Tambomachay and AwanaKancha. In my research I learned I could walk between the first three from Cusco's Plaza de Armas, thought it would be fun to roam the valley. However I did not have much time again so I bargained a taxi to take me to Qenq'O short ride 10 minutes for 8 sole. Q'enqo has this zigzag maze in between this structure where the Incas made an altar and it may of been used for death rituals. A passing Peruvian tourist told me if you are Peruvian and place your hand on this one altar deep within the crack you will get energy from the Sun God, Apu-punchau, I took my chance and asked for some light anyway, why not? From here I caught a bus paying 1 sole, .30 cents to get to the next two site it was a short ride 5 minutes and there were students not the bus, it was so cute. school is out. An ordinary day for everyone else. The other two sites were small too and stunning and most people hire a taxi and do all these in a day and stop over for 30 minutes at each site with their tour guide. But not The Blond Ambition Art Blogger, she is out there and following the North Star.
Puca Pucara translate to Red Fort it is 8 miles outside of Cusco so it was made for protection! The stones are made of red granite and they think it was made in a hurry because the pieces do not fit well together but I thought it was lovely the surround hills and view you get from the top makes you want to sing. Then a quick up the road and across the street is Tambomachay which to this day it could of been a spa, a ritual place for the Sun, Moon and Water gods or a fortress. We will never know because the Spaniards committed genocide and no courts will every prosecute them for it. Moving on along, the adventure continues, it is one of the more beautiful sites to visit it is high up in the mountains 12,000 ft you do feel it and there are many costumed Peruvians and their llamas and baby sheep to collect 1 sole for pictures. The picturesque vision to the site with paper trees to one side and the llamas grazing not the other. A school trip was there so the sounds of laughter and shouting were echoing around and I overheard a guide tell a group of tourist about the magical water. They dyed all the surrounding lakes and springs around the area and the water that is spouting from the this temple never changed color. The sophistication of the underground aqueducts is a mind blowing feat onto itself. Water is sacred to the Incas.
The best part was I followed the students into the hills and found myself above the temple and there were pigs and donkeys or mules on the hillside which was beautiful! And of course another guide from the universe, he was sort of babbling and I could not understand him and his stout stature was benign but once again, do I follow his path or continue back the path the children went? I had my camera so I decided to let go and I must say, what a great detour. It was dreamy and perfect if I was with my partner and not a stranger, a true Anna Green Gables moment. We wandered into a town and saw adobe homes and how the country folk live. He and I split ways he was continuing onto Puca Pucara and I returned to the entrance of Tambomachay with these stairs. I caught a collectivo to the next destination where it is sort of a tourist trap to see weavers, learn about the llamas and alpacas and other trades of the regions to catch up with the others from the residency. The biggest outcome llamas and alpacas are of the camel family and not kangaroo though they look so much like th latter.
13 an unlucky number in the United States but not here or Asia. The chicas and I headed out to Ollyantambo and it is where the Inca Trial starts for many which means you can hike from this town to Machu Picchu, in one day 9-10 hours along the train tracks... or do the 28 mile hike of the famous Inca Trail that takes 4 days 3 nights with a guide, or take a train to Agua Caliente. Ollyantambo is called Ollanta to the locals and this little gem of a town is still the same stoned streets that the Incas walked and the drainage system still intact. It is the most concentrated tourist spot I been to as of to date, probably because I am finally getting closer to Machu Picchu, people from all over the world but today was to be a special day to bond with the two residents I became close to in the short two weeks I have known them. Maybe it was the altitude or maybe because we are all so different and in this dreamy world who knows but they are departing and going back to their worlds the next day, well one is and the other on Monday. Therefore this Saturday we are celebrating by hiking a ruin. Like all sites you walk up the terraces and then get to the various temples to the Sun, Moon but the water temple was closer to the entrance which was different here. And this site was specifically a military zone for the Incas. The wind blew and it does everyday we heard one of the guides say. We had so much fun just being silly women touring and taking pictures to remember each other, over 200! SO many portals it felt significant, how many doors will we pass till we are together again? Or never again? These days with the internet and instagram and facebook, it seems easier to stay in touch so to be continued.
The weird part about the most touristy area, no one has change for money. It was weird. SO if you ever come to the sacred valley have load of small change!! Also this was not my favorite market so save your money and invest in other towns and with the real artisans. When we first arrived the town was celebrating a its 150 year something and there was dancing by children, drumming a llama and alpaca beauty contest, prizes, the mayor was present!
Sunday a day of rest ha! A day I walked from seven in the morning till Paola was gently pushing me up the hilly streets of Cusco to go have dinner. I started the morning to prepare for Machu Picchu the big moment where I will wear my Han-Bok and roam the ruins that the Spanish never found. I wasn't sure where the train station was because many people catch the train from Ollyantambo and not Urubamba but the fancy VistaDome, PeruRail has a limited schedule line that travels from Urubamba to Agua Caliente. Found it and had my ticket printed and felt secure because it is an early train I did not want to be wandering around looking for the station. The market was in full swing and bustling and the quality of the produces looked good. Churches were open and services were in full swing. It was fun to see the town wake up to their day of rest!
I took a collectivo with Paola to Cusco to revisit some of the sites as a tourist and just take it in again. Sacsayhuaman and Qenq'o was all we got to but we hiked the 2 kilometer wall to the fortress from the main square and then roamed around through all these other sites between the two which I did not have time for it was quite amazing. The lighting was beautiful, that overcast kind where you can really get those clear shots and we had Choclo with cheese, the kernels are gigantic and chewy! It was nice to take in an average Sunday for Peruvians in Cusco, some go on dates to these sites, there is camping and grilling in the eucalyptus forest, soccer, kids sliding down natural rocks. Just a day, a day before the last week of the residency where I plan to do a few more performances and edit these videos!!
I am realizing I want do a farewell piece and these performances are sort of for an audience of one at times or just for me discovering humanity again. Living in a mega metropolis and surrounded by endless amount of people and energies, it has been lovely to flow and have large amount of space.
She said I could not enter Machu Picchu dressed in my Han-bok. At first I was confused and disappointed and wondered "oh dear will I have to turn around and start all over again?" The three hour train ride, 30 minute bus ride and find another tour guide goodness, but she said just go change. Which would be easy I had pedestrian clothing on under my Han-bok so I went to bag check and slipped out of my petticoat and dress but kept the top portion on so I was still dressed partially in a Han-Bok. I really wanted to roam Machu Picchu dressed in costume but one has to go with the flow and you know, it was probably better, it was crowded and people still asked if I was Korean. I continued to "interrupt" the landscape and took some pictures with tourists! This trip I really enjoyed the special attention but being out in the Sacred Valley dressed in these characters make the conversations much more interesting, I am not just someone they can sell something to. I am someone they can ask something more than "hey lady" there are many times I feel I am bonding with Peruvians, majority of the time it is with women. I sit and we talk. There are jokes and we learn each other's names.
My tour guide Veronica was brilliant, her English was great and she knew so much. She took wonderful photos and she also wore all the sun gear Korean women wear to prevent getting tan from the sun down to the little gloves. I love private tours, it is the way to go, it was $70 USD for 3.5 hours. I learned so much about Machu Picchu, which means "Old Peak." It is wonderful to wait to see this archaeological site last because it is the most intact. The Spaniards never found it and the first foreigner, an American historian to "discover" it is Hiram Bingham in 1911, it was covered completely in jungly growth and two different farmers and their families was squatting and using the land at the time. Now it is one of the most visited sites and one of the Seven Wonders of the World but it is sinking. Probably because when the holy site was used only 200 Incas were living and on it but everyday the Peruvian Government allows 2000 people to enter, right now it is not high season but I found it overrun and had elbows here and there. Everyone fighting to get that perfect photo.
Epic? Beautiful. Historic. Stunning. Almost everyday Peru has been showing me incredible sites, powerful views, faces and stones with many facets. Just another day of Sacred Valley's awesomeness. Well I do not have much to say about Agua Caliente, it is the town Machu Picchu is in and there are thermal baths but they are Luke warm and though there is a man bringing you drinks and you are looking up to these beautiful mountains I can say its not a MUST. But the train ride on the Vistadome, Peru Rail Train is the way to go! It is a luxurious way to ride into Agua Caliente you ride along the Urubamba River and through the Andes Mountains.
Read the most interesting paper: The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century, by Ramon Grosfoguel. I find a great infinity to Transmodernism and I think I have found a philosophy that I can say I agree with. This was coined by Enrique Dussel, an Argentine Philosopher who I will read more of. Part of this residency is helping me to expand my mind and deprogram me of the many colonial pretenses and way of thought that is binding me from growing. I am steeped in the UNI-versity mindset and hope to partake in the PLURI-versity future where it will be inclusive and have a wider platform where we can pull from more histories and concepts and learn from a wider panel of teachers, writers, artists and voices.
Chinchero as a Peruvian. I went back to the birthplace of the rainbow! One of the first places I had a connection to in this part of the planet and its history. I found my friend Hilda and she lend me a Chincherina costume and I walked around the plaza by the church where all the ladies are selling their wares: carpet, blankets, bags, dolls, scarves, shawls, place mats, gloves, hats, etc etc etc.
My not being able to speak Spanish is the dead give away. If I could the whole illusion could go a step further. A cooler temperature day and I spent it with women all dressed like me. The most fascinating part for them is my hair! The wig I have looks real and its very black and it has this shine that women all envy but once I tell them it is not real, they all have to touch it. Even then they are not sure. I bought some really high quality wigs, it really makes the vision.
I find myself sputtering away and I am happy I am returning to many of the places I visited. It is giving me another chance to take it all in again.
A day of rest and absorption of ideas. The realization that maybe as. a performance Artist I would like a different name, Xeanne Kantu Ri. I was blessed with the name Kantu while performing as a Peruvian by the young flute player, it felt very real. It will be a good separation between the painter and the performer.
Halloween! We tried our best to dress up, I bought my mermaid costume and shared my wigs and we headed out to fill the little pumpkin baskets the kids carried, many didn't seem to understand but there is a small commercial movement in Urubamba. Is it good? One gentleman kind of poo-pooed our candy sharing and made a comment about cavities, maybe he was the local dentist but we ignored him and went on our merry way.
A quick adventure to Pisac Sunday Market and roam the streets. It is one of my favorite dreamy towns in the Sacred Valley. Great food and just like a movie set everything is cobbled and adobe buildings with Spanish tile roofs.