Volunteering. Cooperation. Barter.
These were the three principles upon which the Quechuan society that inhabited Machu Picchu was based.Â There were no slaves and all the structures were built in cooperation and owned by no one person.Â There was no money and, as a result, no greed.Â They realized that this was the only way to guarantee permanency for their culture (but of course the Conquistadors had no appreciation for these principles…)Â Â Â Â Machu Picchu was breathtaking.Â We arrived very early in the morning before the site was over run by busloads of tourists and managed to experience the place in a somewhat silent, meditative state.Â Our guide was extremely informative (though somewhat hard to understand) and he taught us much about the ancient people who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago.Â it was interesting to hear how skewed Hiram Bingham’s (theÂ “discoverer” of the site, in 1911)Â interpretation of the different buildings ended up being.Â He attributed many of the structures to serve more warlike or violent purposes then we now believe them to have been.Â It was extremely upsetting to hear how stones have been damaged and destroyed in the filming of beer commercials or clearing a heliport for the president’s helicopter to land (so he didn’t have to bus it up like the rest of us.)Â Also, none of the people in the village below gain any income from the site that was home to their ancestors – all the money is diverted to Lima.Â The only gain to their economy comes from what the tourists spend in town.Â
We’re now taking the train back to Cusco and then on a plane for Quito tomorrow.Â More news later from Ecuador!