When I finally knew I was coming down to Saqsaywaman again to continue the work I started in 2010, there were some people who said to me "Wow, you are really going to go." I found this comment strange to me given I never had a doubt that I'd get back here at some point. I guess to some people my constant referral to this project and my desire to get back to continue the research seemed like a pipe dream. I certainly understand that outside perspective. But, when you have a dream; when you have a purpose in life; no matter what happens you believe in yourself. Having a vision is knowing you will get it done and turning over the "how it will get done" to the Universe.
It's been so heart warming to reconnect with all these people
again and most have moved up in the management structure at Saqsaywaman and Cusco in genera.
The good news is that since I've been here last, the Ministry of Culture in Q'osqo has created a new centralized office that's in charge of all archaeological and anthropological work in and around. This new division of the Ministry of run by a rather famous Peruvian author and heritage professional Sr. Luis Nieto Degregori. We finally figured out yesterday that our research proposal, with the old Convenio needed to go to his office with a formal letter attached. And, it had to be stamped for us to proceed with initial conversations with the Saqsaywaman park officials. We got that letter "stamped" this morning at 7:20 am...then proceeded to Saqsaywaman for our second conversation with the park officials. Looks like now the paperwork will be finalized by early next week and we'll be on the site finally working! It's taken PERSEVERANCE and I couldn't have done this without Dalton Gaudin, who has believed in this project for years and today he held his own talking with the Saqsaywaman park director Francisco Solis Diaz.
When Ben Younkman and I were here last, the amount of damage being done to the site by water was distressing. That has all been mediated at this point. The relationships with the communities has been improved largely due to the new style of the Director, but also by the additional of 4 park archaeologists who directly interface with the communities on a regular basis. There do remain conflicts between the Ministry and the communities, not least of which is that one community has actually tried to sell part of their land (right below where a circular pyramid is) to a Brazilian hotel chain. Just yesterday, the central office of the Ministry passed a resolution to ban this hotel company from building on the active archaeological zone We will be delving into this desire to sell the land once we get started with our research.
One of the exciting developments has been the possibility of this project being featured in the upcoming Association for Preservation Technology International conference in Miami in November 2019. This project is an almost perfect fit for one of their major tracks:
Track 2: Sustainability and Conservation of Built Heritage in the Americas
Finally, the health of team members has played a role on this project this time. One of our major contacts, Mario Cornejo Ortiz, spent 11 days in the hospital starting the day after our Pago ritual. He has been one of our major contacts and tended to steward paperwork through the process, so we were delayed for a bit as a result of that. And, I have had a pretty bad stomach bug. Finally on the mend, but being sick at this altitude is no fun. You need every bit of energy to deal with this geography. So, maybe it's better that we are not starting in earnest till next week. I don't think I would have been up to climbing into the communities last week. And, the good news is that Mario is back to work and feeling much better. Both of us have lost some extra weight.
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.