Elon professors Ernie Lunsford and Lisa Peloquin and a group of 17 students explored Peru during Winter Term for "The Living Heritage of the Andes." The course introduced students to metropolitan and rural areas, language and culture.
Elon's photographer, Kim Walker, joined the group midway and documented the students conjugating verbs in sunlit classrooms, struggling with traditional Andean farm tools, exploring a very soggy Machu Picchu, as well as climbing countless stone stairs throughout southern Peru.
Led by local guide Raul Jaimes (atop the structure), the group arrives at an Incan house among the Pisaq ruins, in the eastern portion of the Sacred Valley.
Colin Keaveney '13 describes exploring Machu Picchu: "Dampened from the rain, exhausted from the 4 a.m. wake up call and out of breath, but there was no place I would rather be but on this Inca trail in their most exquisite of cities. It’s humbling knowing I walked the same trails the Inca did centuries before me."
The group takes a break in Cuzco's central Plaza de Armas, where most Spanish buildings were constructed on top of the remains of Incan structures.
Hollis Gesen '11 holds the guide wires as she climbs the slippery terrain to the top of Huayna Picchu, one of the peaks flanking the famed and mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu.
"The day we visited the Textile Center in Chinchero was one of my favorite days in Peru. We learned to do a simple weaving technique, which was such a peaceful experience. It was so lovely to work with the native women," said Diana Ciompi '11, left.
Diana Ciompi, left, and sociology professor Lisa Peloquin chat as they hike the trails around the ruins of Pisaq.
Betsy Tremblay plays with the son of an Andean farmer who lives and works with his family in rural Patacancha.
Under umbrellas and ponchos, the group stands among Machu Picchu's ruins, almost devoid of other tourists at the end of a rainy day.
"A shaman had us take deep breaths over native coca leaves and blessed us for good health and safe travel. Normally I am very skeptical of ceremonies but I obeyed and connected with my thoughts. I'm thankful that I got to participate," said Katie Seringer '11 about visiting a shaman in Patacancha.
The students took Spanish classes with native speakers at Maximo Nivel, a Peruvian language school in Cuzco. "The teachers encouraged us to learn and practice our Spanish, which helped me interact with the people of Peru," said Spenser Sussan '13, far left.
A small group of students descended Huayna Picchu to visit the ruins of the Temple of the Moon. "Climbing down the edge of one of the most mysterious wonders of the world felt like being on top of the world," said Traci Stewart '12.
From left, Lauren Leonard '11 and Emily Buehler '12 learn about Peruvian crops in the fields of Patacancha.
Daniel O’Connor '12, passes through ruins at the Temple of the Moon, one of the sites surrounding Machu Picchu. "When you see these ruins, it's hard to believe they exist, but you'll never forget them," he said.
The group gathers around their guide, Raul Jaimes, upon arriving at Machu Picchu, visible in the background before the rain and fog descended.
Erik Higbee '11 and sociology professor Lisa Peloquin squeeze between rocks on the trail winding through the ruins of Sacsayhuaman. "The vistas we saw and the ruins we explored were unimaginable. I'd seen pictures, but nothing compared to experiencing it firsthand," Higbee said.
During a window of sunny weather and blue skies, the group scales the ruins on an Incan palace at Chinchero.
The group forms a circle at the bottom of the 500-foot-deep farming terraces of Moray. "The ruins look so simple, but from the bottom we gained an appreciation of the Incans' innovations. The terracing techniques developed at Moray are still used around the world," said Lauren Leonard '12.
Katie Seringer '11 leads as students descend a steep set of steps to the bottom of the ruins at Pisaq.
Guide Raul Jaimes teaches the group about Machu Picchu under the cover of one of the guardhouses on the northern end of the site.
"It was one of the most demanding tasks I have ever tried," said Megan McMahon '11, left, recounting her attempt at the traditional farming methods used in rural Patacancha. Helping her, from left, are Colin Keaveney '11, Emily Wappes '11 and David Edge '11.
Hollis Gesen '11 gives Megan McMahon '11 a hand as they climb to the top of Huayna Picchu, one of the peaks flanking Machu Picchu.
Tracy Stewart '12 and Colin Keaveney '13 stop to admire and photograph Machu Picchu as they ascend Huayna Picchu.
Spanish professor Ernie Lunsford, who is retiring at the end of the 2010-11 academic year, descends a flight of stairs at Machu Picchu. "This was my 10th and final year as one of the co-leaders of the course. It has been a joy to introduce Elon students to this country that I love so much, but it was bittersweet knowing this would be my last January there," he said.