This is the last day of our trip and the beginning of a 36-hour time warp that will transition us back home. Those of the group who’ve been afflicted with colds, altitude sickness and knee injuries are on the road to recovery. Half the members are preparing for an extension tour with Alvaro to Lake Titicaca.
Before leaving Qosco he leads us back to the Korikancha—Convent of San Lorenzo. The oval sanctuary, originally its most prominent feature, recalls Machu Picchu.
Inside the complex, sections of austere Inka masonry originally covered with silver and gold and later painted over by the conquerors are interspersed with ornate baroque architecture.
Unearthed stones show the sophistication of indoor rock plumbing. Did this waste water system allow for disposal of paper?
A modern mural reproduces pre-European visions of star configurations in the Milky Way.
A short walk brings us to Plaza des Armas, originally the main Inka square where hundreds of thousands assembled for calendrical festivals.
The Spanish appropriated it as a focal point for church buildings, but in recent years, it’s been partially reclaimed with a golden statue of the Inka king at the top of the central fountain,
Its gardens are animated by a vibrant mix of old and young, locals and foreigners.
As we depart for the airport, the skies open with a downpour, just as they did upon our arrival in Qosqo.
Back in Lima we transfer back to the Miraflores hotel we’d stayed in earlier and are provided rooms to rest in before a scheduled midnight departure.
Our Lima guide, Dante, returns to lead us on a bus ride through traffic congested by the next day’s Dakar international auto race to a viewpoint above the city dominated by another hilltop statue of Christ.
From there I get a last obscured picture of life in the new towns directly from above.
After farewell dinner at a seaside restaurant we return to the airport. The flight to Miami is delayed three hours, but we still catch the connecting flight to L.A., where we arrive in late afternoon, find our Prius, Reddy, in the vast parking lot, stop for dinner in Santa Monica, and drive the last four hour stint to San Luis Obispo.
Jan lays out our treasured souvenirs and gifts for children, grandchildren and nieces that will always recall this life-enriching trip, before we sink into a long and happy sleep.