Cuzco is the largest tourist site on the continent, full of Americans, Israelis, and Europeans. I can get my falafel and even go to see movies in English. I get tired of vendors constantly waving traditional artisanias, like wool scarves, in my face. I get tired of hearing English and being around tourists. Nonetheless, I really like it here, and I know the money tourism brings in helps these people live better lives.
But the people of the Cuzco area, especially the students and all of the best-known Incan scholars, are trying to stop this project. They claim that it will desecrate this sacred spot, adversely affect the environment, and ruin the ambience. David Centeno is a professor of Archeology at the Universidad National de San Antonio Abad del Cusco, where the students from Madre de Dios go to college (see my article in the May 15th dispatch: "You Can Take 'Em Outta the Jungle, but You Can't Take the Jungle Outta Them". He is helping organize a large protest next week, in which thousands of concerned students and Inca scholars plan to march all the way from Cuzco to Machu Picchu to express their disapproval of the plan. "These hills are all Apus, they are all gods, they are sacred," he explains. "But the government doesn't see that. All they see is money. I cannot imagine Machu Picchu without its surrounding beauty."
So here we are, tourists from all over the world, traveling far to pay homage to this amazing site. Yet, by our very physical and economic impact, we forever change the face of the place we come to see. What irony. If they put a roller coaster to the Temple of the Moon, would I ride it?
Kavitha - The Children of the Sacred Lake
Kevin - Banished or Delivered?
Shawn - Coca and the Environment
Team - Coca: Modern Vice or Traditional Power?
Making A Difference - Save the Redwood Forests (and the Coho Salmon, and the Spotted Owl, and All of Us)!!!
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