Of guinea pigs and shamans

On our second day in the Cusco area, students woke up in the quiet of mountain hamlets. In the morning we hiked the trails of a beautiful Inca site called Tipon, where water from an underground spring was channeled with such precision that it still runs and never changes in volume, even during times of drought or flood. Lunch was oven-roasted cuy (guinea pig), a Peru SST rite of passage. Guinea pigs were raised in every Inca household and remain a treat to the Andean people. After lunch we went to another Inca ruin, Pikillaqta, with shaman Basilio Samata. He showed us how to make an ofrenda, or thank-you offering to Pachamama (mother earth). Sr. Basilio is a practicing Catholic as well as a Quechua spiritual leader. He gave each of us a blessing, wishing us health, wealth and happiness.