It is customary to have photos taken with the weavers of the articles you purchase.
It took 72 years, but I finally made it to Machu Picchu.
As you climb in elevation the type of housing, food and dress change. The air thins and many of the communities still routinely dress in the fashion of their ancestors. The old ways are cherished and despite the onslaught of tourists, these people remain insular and seem unaffected by most Western influences. Their diet is vegetable based and while cows, sheep, and alpaca are present, the only animal protein consumed is guinea pig. Stilt houses are replaced with stone and adobe structures that are better suited to the cooler temperatures and altitude. Here, as in other areas of Peru, the unemployment rate is zero. Jobs do not pay well, but work is always available. Major occupations are farming, weaving and jobs that service the tourist industry. The air in these communities is thin and becomes rarefied as you ascend into the Cloud Forest and reach Machu Picchu. It is a mystical place and as you walk and climb through its terraces you're hit with recurring waves of awe and a heightened respect for the ancient people who created this fortress so high in the Andean mists. It is an experience I certainly will never forget.