Hi Everyone and thanks for your continued interest in my work in Peru. It's been so long since I've been there, but I think about the archaeological site known as "Saqsaywaman" and the people I work with there everyday!
Peru, as with many other countries, has experienced social conflict due to the disastrous effects of COVID and the unfair social treatment of people during this challenging time. It really hasn't been safe to travel to Peru (both physically and medically) for the past few years. My friends there think that it's safe enough for me to go again in January 2024. I'll be monitoring the situation and make the decision in November of this year.
It's been hard to get news of what's really going on at the Saqsaywaman archaeological park. I've heard various "rumors" of looting during the pandemic and that it was hard for the local people living on the site to get vaccinated. Tourism of course took a big hit the first few years of COVID, but now seems to be returning to some new normal now.
And the economy in Peru has really taken a hit during COVID. Many of the people I work with in the communities that are on the Saqsaywaman archaeological site have really suffered due to loss of tourism and the ability to sell their produce, textiles and art like pottery and jewelry. And, as many of you know, I'm a big supporter of some of the local jewelry artists in the San Blas artisan community in Cusco. I'm looking forward to supporting them again!
For me personally, COVID put a big HALT to my work with the people I care about in Peru. Peter Frost and I kept busy with IncaTalk for a while, but are on hold for now. Hopefully, we'll start that vlog up again soon. If you haven't seen these vlogs, please check them out. They will give you an idea of how many amazing sites exist within driving distance from Cusco, Peru.
Since 2020's COVID start, I've filled my time with being a tech consultant here in Carmel, CA as people really needed their computers, wifi, and streaming TV to work during a time when we all were isolated at home for a long time due to COVID. Without me really trying, I became known as the Digital Diva and even had a front page article written about me in the Monterey Herald. Thus, unlike many, I have been very busy with this new business during COVID.
I've been thankful for the work during the pandemic, but I can't wait to get back to Saqsaywaman and continue my work there as a visual anthropologist.
Wish me luck and stay tuned!
Maren Elwood is a visual anthropologist and founder of On-Site Expeditions...a field school that will provide scholarships to aspiring heritage professionals. The first field school session will be in January 2020.