CSU, Chico News

CSU, Chico Offers Trip to Peru and Machu Picchu

Date: 06-18-2008

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Thomasin Saxe
College of Humanities and Fine Arts

The College of Humanities and Fine Arts at California State University, Chico, is sponsoring a tour to Peru, including a visit to Machu Picchu. The trip is scheduled for 11 days, from Jan. 5 through Jan. 15, 2009.

The faculty-in-residence will be religious studies professor Andrew Flescher. He has traveled extensively in Brazil and spent one summer studying wildlife in the Amazon River basin. In January 2008, he served as the faculty-in-residence for the HFA tour to Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands.

The tour will include three nights in Lima, five in Cuzco and one in Machu Picchu. Guided sightseeing tours include Lima, Cuzco and several Incan ruins, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is located high in the Andes. A train will take visitors up Picchu Mountain and through the lush valleys that lead to the “Lost City of the Incas.” In Machu Picchu, travelers will see the stonework of the Temple of the Sun, the fountains of the Royal Sector, the views from the Temple of the Three Windows, the cave of the Temple of the Condor and the calendar of the Intihuatana.

“Just as I have in the past been humbled by the Amazon and the Galapagos, natural habitats innocent to the minutiae that plagues the rest of the contemporary world, I expect to be overwhelmed by the heart of the Incan empire,” said Flescher. “Machu Picchu, standing at 9,060 feet, was invisible to civilization below and is still regarded as one of the most coveted treasures of the ancient world. It was one of the first self-sustaining cities, irrigated by natural springs and built into its own surroundings. An eco-friendly paradise, Machu Picchu also served as an astronomical observatory, the top of which provides some of the world’s most spectacular views of the heavens above and the earth below.”

Machu Picchu worked its magic on the interim dean of HFA, Joel Zimbelman, almost 33 years ago, when he traveled there with his brother. “We went overland from South Dakota to Peru,” said Zimbelman, “a kind of ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ cultural experience by train, bus, plane and tramp steamer. Cuzco’s Inca fortifications and colonial squares provided the basis for a lifelong interest in Latin American indigenous culture and its colonial legacy.”

The highlight for Zimbelman was traveling along the Urubamba and exploring Machu Picchu. “Machu Picchu changed my view of travel and cultural exploration forever,” said Zimbelman. “It wasn’t just a tourist site—it was a cultural creation kept from the Spanish; the locus of an early and significant archeological dig in Latin America; a point of cultural pride for contemporary Peruvians; and the raw material at the center of the searing contemporary debate over the question ‘Who Owns Antiquity?’ I can still remember the climb by bus to its hidden location; the redolent smells of the mysterious jungle; the kids chattering as they sold trinkets and climbed on the slippery rocks; the clouds that continually shrouded and then revealed the architecture and terracing of this settlement. As we headed back to Cuzco after dusk, my brother and I admitted it was the best day we had ever had together in our lives.”

The Peru/Machu Picchu tour is organized through a professional tour company, and a tour director will accompany the tour throughout its visit to Peru. It is possible for CSU, Chico students to earn 1-3 units through the Department of Religious Studies.

For information, contact Thomasin Saxe, group coordinator and director of Special Projects, College of HFA, at 530-898-4642 or txase@csuchico.edu. To learn more about the HFA travel program, go to www.csuchico.edu/hfa/travel.