Wednesday, August 26, 2009
After the disappointment of terrible guide at Sacsayhuaman, I was pleasantly surprised to run into a guide who was so eager to share his knowledge of Sacsayhuaman and Inca culture. Surprisingly he did not ask for a tip; he said he teaches from the heart and if I wanted to help, I could donate money to his school and village where they teach Inca ways and Quechua. He told me that the schools in Cusco discriminate against the poor indigenous villagers. Within ten minutes, he taught me more than the first guide did in an hour. He did a sacred blessing for me in these amazing tunnels at the Sacsayhuaman site.
After the blessing, it started hailing so I ran and hid under these two huge rocks for cover. A little girl was looking for cover too, so I told her to come under cover with me. She laid down her plastic bag for us to sit on. We kept each other warm and dry and talked for a little while until the storm passed. Vanessa is her name. She is 9 years old and grew up in the hills in Cusco. Everyday she comes to Sacsayhuaman to collect plastic bottles. Even though they do not officially recycle plastic here, there are women who buy the bottles and reuse them or resell them. Tourist places are a great place to collect plastic bottles.
Vanessa and I played together while she collected bottles and I took in the ruins. We had a great time climbing the huge rounded rock hills and sliding down on our bums. She taught me how to slide on my bum and on my front side. We wandered around, she collected more bottles, I took more pictures, and she taught me things about the huge rocks and Inca architecture. She is a very smart and resourceful little girl. I asked her how she knew so much and she told me that she has a huge book on Sacsayhuaman that she reads every night before bed. I really enjoyed Vanessa and I think she enjoyed me.
As always, there is little a voice in your head that wonders if people here are being friendly because they like you or whether they want something from you. I do not want to think that, but it is not uncommon for someone to show you around and then expect to get paid. So, I asked her whether we were friends or whether she expected a tip. I was so pleased to hear when she answered ´´somos amigas´´ (we are friends).