ISSUE 16, January 2006
Editorial
Historic: Sherlock Holmes incarnate
Travel: In the Footsteps of the Incas
Sport: Batting for England
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Supreme Grand Chapter: First Grand Principal's speech and Committee of General Purposes
Royal Masonic Girls' School: Stories in windows
Specialist Lodges: Brotherhood of the Angle
    Napoleonic Wars: A Mason's Word
International: Macedonia: New Grand Lodge consecrated and Enthusiasm unbound
Grand Lodge: Development of Freemasons' Hall
Masonic Rebels: Rise and fall
Bristol Museum: A Phoenix from the Ashes
Freemasonry and Religion: United in diversity
Library and Museum: Most glorious of them all
First Aid: Masons learn to shock
Education: The Third Degree and Forthcoming events
Masonic Charities, Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Above
Caral, home to the oldest known civilisation in the Americas

Below
The salt mines at Maras. A must see experience if visiting the surrounding area of Cusco.
    Peru remains a treasure-trove of newly discovered archaeological sites mainly because, until recently, there has been so much unrest in the countryside. Most of the country remained unexplored until well into the 20th century, and many of the digs are still under excavation as they are funded by the Government who, only recently, fully appreciated their tourist potential.
    It is still, therefore, possible to visit sites that are hundreds, if not thousands of years old, which have remained unspoilt by not having too many visitors, and more importantly, restrictions in terms of access. Noticeable now, in both terms of food and architecture, is the Spanish influence, as they occupied the country for nearly 300 years until Peru gained independence in 1821. Spanish remains the main language.
    Three and a half hours drive from Lima through desert, with an hour spent bumping along unmade roads, we entered the Supe Valley at the foothills of the Andes. Apparently, the first civilization of Peru and the Americas was formed here between 3,000 and 2,500 BC. Eighteen archaeological sites have so far been discovered, of which the sacred city of Caral is the biggest. The city was inhabited for over 800 years, with remains being discovered from three different periods. Initially it was formed from quarried stone, followed by walls made from plants such as cane, and latterly stone walls which had been plastered and painted. Although excavations started in 1994, the site has only been open to visitors for the past two years.
    Caral is situated in a micro-climate, and although the weather was not particularly warm as we were travelling there, we had to take off layers and apply sun cream and hats when we arrived. Our guide, Gonzalo Rodriguez Carpio, is one of the nine archaeologists working on the site which presently extends over 64 acres, although there is every possibility that it could be larger as there are still areas to be researched. Plans are afoot for a visitor centre and museum, but if you go soon you will still be able to see it in its very early stages of discovery before it gets too commercialised.
    Our trip to Machu Picchu, known as the Lost City of the Incas, built in a period around 1440, was in style. Not for us the 26-mile Inca Trail, which takes several days to cover on foot, even if there are porters to carry everything you need. Our party travelled on the Hiram Bingham Orient Express train, named after the man who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911. We not only travelled in style, but were also wined and dined on the way. Our journey took us through some wonderful scenery including the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Unfortunately, we were only on a day trip from our base in Cusco, the country’s main tourist destination.
    When the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, many structures were destroyed or used as foundations for new buildings. What is particularly special about Machu Picchu is that it was hidden until the 20th century, and therefore not destroyed by the conquering Spanish, and so much of the settlement remains intact.
    The ideal is to stay overnight as there is so much to explore, and given the right climatic conditions, the sunrise and sunset are supposed to be really spectacular. However, there is only limited accommodation near the site. A bonus with travelling on this train is their guide, Gary Sanchez. The Inca tribe had no written language, and therefore there is still a lot to be discovered about their culture, making what he told us his own spiritual interpretation of the facts which could well differ from someone with perhaps a more archaeological leaning.


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