Ancient and modern living side by side

Two and a half days in Cusco – the most amazing city that I think I’ve ever been to, that carries so much ancient culture and tradition that is kept alive by indigenous people and those that know how to integrate this tradition into people’s lives. Here I had half a day off to – believe it or not – get my hair done, and my nails done, and generally be pampered and find out what had been happening in Cusco for the last few years. I met old faces and was introduced to new ones.

My grandson, who was with us on the trip, told me he felt that Cusco was the right place to be, and I knew just what he meant. While here we spent two days with Pedro and his family. They have been part of my life for about 20 years. His youngest daughter, who is my goddaughter, has a photograph by her bedside of her and me when she was tiny, and I was very touched by how she still had that connection. We had great ceremonies with Pedro and his team, partly because he lives in the centre of one of the most powerful places in Cusco, Saksaywaman.

Cusco is also a very cosmopolitan city. And everybody agreed they all felt at home there – they loved it, and they shopped ‘til they dropped. The hotel doorman quickly picked up on who was who, and he would let me know who had gone in and who had gone out shopping (again!).

One young man who was selling jewellery on the street told me I had a very familiar face and I said I had been coming a long time. About an hour later, as I was on my way back to the hotel, he came up again and told me that he remembered my son Dean, who had travelled with me in the past. He reminded me that Dean had taken on board two young underage street traders that used to sell postcards and jewellery – he used to take them for food, and buy all of their stuff so that they could go home with some money. And this was one of those young men that Dean had befriended. And though he was still selling jewellery on the street, he was very smartly dressed, and his jewellery was good quality, and even better he had a big smile on his face. He told me he’s married with a child now.