It's Day 3 on the Duke Alumni Association (DAA) "Treasures of Peru" trip to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca and I think we've had about 9 hours of sleep. As was the case with the first DAA trip that I took as the University representative two years ago, the travel logistics have been perfect (knock on wood) and the 24 alums on the trip are fabulous! Everyone is thoroughly enjoying getting introduced to the history and beauty of Peru and to getting to know each other. The classes represented by the alums range form 1959 to 2005, with some folks coming from as close to campus as Chapel Hill and as far away as San Diego, with Trinity, Fuqua and the Medical School represented.
Most of us met at the airport in Miami on Monday and flew to Lima, arriving at our hotel after 1 AM on Tuesday. We stayed in the Miraflores area of Lima, close to the beautiful Pacific coastline of Peru. On Tuesday, we toured the Larco Herrera Museum, where we were "exposed" to erotic pre-Colubiam pots. I have to say - the pottery was pretty interesting! I leave the rest to your imagination. We also were able to walk around the historic center of Lima and experienced the traffic that results from 9 million people.
Today, we ventured to Cuzco and visited the sacred sites of Koricancha and the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, where we began to understand the architectural prowess of the Incas as well as the influence of Spain in bringing the Catholic Church to Peru. This combining of the Incan and Catholic religions was highlighted in the evening when we attended a worship service conducted by a shaman at our hotel in the Sacred Valley to honor the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth). The service was interrupted when the shaman's cell phone rang!
Our trip to the Sacred Valley from Cuzco was by bus and included a stop at the Indian market at Pisac. We clearly have some shoppers in our group, as folks bought sweaters, socks, gloves and other items available at the market.
Our meals have been awesome, with delicious fresh vegetables, fruit, breads and much more. Every meal seems to include some kind of potato, which by the way, are golden (naturally) in color. We have already sampled the national drink of Peru, pisco sour, as well as coca tea, which is supposed to help with adjusting to the altitude.
Tomorrow, we will explore the Sacred Valley and then on to Machu Picchu.