Somehow, a miracle took place yesterday. Whilst things were not perfect, far from it, the people were at the meeting point and the Ceremony started around 9 pretty much as I had anticipated.

I was told by another participants through the WIPCE Fan page that they’d be bused from the Plaza de Armas at 7:30. Given the level of disorganisation, I considered highly unnecessary to even try join them although a colleague did and discovered that you were also invited to walk up the hill for 40 minutes to get there if you wished to add to the spiritual quality of our gathering. She was really pleased with the effort. Meanwhile, at the hotel, enjoying breakfast in a less spiritual manner that tends to characterize me, I met Cynthia, working for a Masai community in Kenya and Luz, an Aymara Bolivian scholar based in Tucson.

Luz with a fellow countryman

I only have a far picture for Cynthia but tomorrow you’ll have the close up. Here she is, resting and taking a photo of us at Sacsayhuaman while Luz and I were climbing higher and higher…

Cynthia is hard to spot, in a red Tshirt sitting on a stone

I packed and changed from my room to another even lovelier with a view on the patio and we proceeded to Sacsayhuaman. There, we experienced a deep and magical feeling a communion with a celebration of the Pachamama and prayers to various elements, the sun, the water, the wind, the food…pity the people who were holding that ceremony were closer to a group of hippies than to real masters, said a professor from the Smithonian after the ceremony…Who cares really, it was a great ceremony, we were all given three coca leaves and a whistle

that had to be held to iti (the sun) and to the various elements north south east west while the Master chanted or prayed, then all our coca leaves “filled with our good intentions and thoughts were burnt in dedicated sacred firebowls.

The ceremony was followed by some official speeches, one of them by Miryam’s boss Bixente Otta, Vice-Minister for Intercultural Affairs in Peru, which deplored the lack of information regarding this whole event in a very good speech and the excellent translation of Miryam Yataco.

the translation was great because she not only conveyed perfectly what he was saying but also explained a few things along the line.

Here’s a sample of what took place during the ceremony and the diversity of the wonderful people who attend this meeting.

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After the ceremony, I tried to identify my SLonFB members. As it wasn’t easy with such a crowd and even with my description, only two found me…So I asked to use the loudspeaker for my call…not as easy as it sound because the hippy girl who had been such a terrible translator during the ceremony bowed very hypocritically to let me know that I certainly couldn’t use the mike as “this was a conference”…I’m happy to report that her male colleague who looked somewhat more authentic and at least a Quechua speaker, was happy to let me have a go…So we now have a whole bunch of new friends coming to check us out! It was funny to see them say, “did you say sociolinguists? I am a sociolinguist, may I join?”.

So we met briefly and together headed in the direction of a supposedly arranged lunch which eventually turned up, only after everyone had totally despaired and got into cabs back in town. We identified what will now be our official SLonFB meeting point in Cusco, a delightful coffee shop serving excellent meals, the Inca Café!

Then the meeting really started, but I am going to leave the comments on the sessions for my next post and will leave you with photos of the typical flowers and gardens of Cuzco to preserve the spiritual quality of that very special morning…

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