By Russ Karow and Dennis Murphy
Twenty-one Friendship Force (FF) ambassadors traveled to Peru in early April 2018. Ambassadors were from Oregon (13 travelers), Wisconsin (3), Montana (1), South Dakota (1) and Nevada (2). We began our trip with the Lima FF group. Their three- day program was added to our originally planned schedule and was well worth the time. The program was organized and run by two wonderful women. Maria Olano and Luisa Jesus. We visited local cathedrals, museums, government and historic buildings, and enjoyed a most impressive evening at the exposition park with the Magic Water Circuit. This included colorful water fountains, lights, music, and a laser show! Chicken is a ubiquitous food in Peru. We had the pleasure of dining at the Chicken Villa, a historic restaurant. While our visit was short, the bonds of friendship and the memories of our time together will last far longer.
The next segment of our journey was in Trujillo, a coastal city located in a desert region. The juxtaposition of ocean and desert was unexpected. Our first full day in the city (a Sunday) began with a parade of which we were a part. Dennis Murphy (our journey coordinator) was a guest of honor and got to raise a city flag as part of the festivities! We toured a number of cultural sites surrounding Trujillo. Several native cultures flourished in the region. All mastered the art of irrigation using water from the mountains and built societies of up to a hundred thousand people. We visited ruins from two of the later cultures. The Moche civilization flourished from 100 to 800 AD followed by the Chimu which arose about 900 AD and were later conquered by the Inca around 1470. The Spanish arrived in the region fifty years later. Both societies had grand structures and facilities but the Moche were quite colorful and Chimu nearly monochromic. Scholars believe that environmental disaster lead to the decline of the Moche and rise of the Chimu with a parallel change in approach to life as a result. We were wined (actually Pisco soured) and dined in elegance by our Trujillo colleagues. Dancing is an intrinsic part of the culture of this city and its people. We were treated to many occasions where we danced ourselves, and, or watched the beautiful cultural dancing that represents so much of the heart of this city. During our busy week there, we were graciously hosted by our new friends, brought into there homes, shared the stories of our lives with each other, and formed lasting bonds of friendship. The Nor Peru journey coordinator was Teresa Salinas. She did a wonderful job in preparing for our visit and keeping so many aspects of our journey well-coordinated. The president of FF Nor Peru, Jaime Carril Diaz was also ever present, being a helpful and supportive presence during so many activities.
A group of 15 continued on to Cusco and Machu Picchu. This portion of our trip was organized by a travel company from Montana – Adventure Life. AL did a fabulous job of organization. We toured Inca ruins and Spanish buildings in Cusco itself and Inca ruins in the Scared Valley and Machu Picchu. Grand is an understatement when describing the assortment of Inca ruins that we saw. In usual western conqueror fashion, the Spanish kept detailed records of the materials they plundered from Inca cities, but they failed to document the true treasure of these societies – the mechanical and cultural engineering marvels. Inca aqueducts and building foundations stand to this day while western structures crumbled during major earthquakes. Scholars have no idea how the Inca moved 10-20 ton stone blocks 5-10 miles from quarries, down mountains and across rivers using just wood and stove rollers. The Inca did not have iron-based metals. How does one carve multi-ton stones to “dry fit” with neighboring stones such that there are no visible gaps? How does one peacefully govern a kingdom that stretches thousands of miles when only foot travel and line-of-sight communication are available? These are mysteries of life and just a few of the marvels of this trip.