The next phase of our journey has begun! Lauren's dad, the one and only Andrew Henschel, arrived in Lima on Friday night. Early the next morning the three of us took off for Cusco! Izzy's parents will be joining the Cusco party on Monday. We are both excited for this part of the trip for many reasons: quality time with the parents, visiting the site of the acclaimed film "The Emperor's New Groove," decompressing from an incredible but exhausting three weeks of filming, making alpaca friends and exploring a new part of Peru. 

If you're not familiar with Incan history and folklore, its okay, neither are we. So we did a little research to give some background on Cusco and why it was such a significant place for the Incas. According to an Inca legend, long ago people were ignorant and brutal, living like wild animals, without clothes or houses. The god Inti, known as Our Father the Sun, sent one of his sons and one of his daughters to earth to teach them how to live properly. The son was Manco Capac, whom Inti made the ruler of all the races of people around Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. "I want you to rule these peoples as a father rules his children," Inti told Manco Capac. The god gave his son and daughter instructions about how to find the best place for their court. Starting at Lake Titicaca, they were to visit the villages and look for a place where they could drive a gold stake into the ground with one blow. The site became the location of Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire.

The Sacred Valley, where we are now, was given this name because of its fertile land despite being at such a high altitude. It's absolutely beautiful, with small pueblos snaking along the river in between the Peruvian Andes. Here are a few snapshots of what we've done since we've been here. 

After landing in Cusco, we drove up over the hills into the valley, stopping along the way for a few scenic views and finishing up at our hotel with a double rainbow. 

In a town called Chinchero, we went to a textiles workshop to see how women in the region have been dying and weaving alpaca and sheep's wool for centuries. We were mind-boggled by how they had discovered all of these natural resources to create such vivid colors. Nelly (the woman in the video) showed us how to make soap out of roots and crush up beetles to create red dye that can even be used as lipstick!

 Scrubbing the root to make suds

Scrubbing the root to make suds

 Looks and smells like soap!

Looks and smells like soap!

 This is what happens when you 'sacrifice' a beetle

This is what happens when you 'sacrifice' a beetle

 Beetlejuice lipstick

Beetlejuice lipstick

 Izzy loves baby alpaca wool. So cozy!

Izzy loves baby alpaca wool. So cozy!

 All the weavers

All the weavers

Nelly also showed us the proper way to bundle up a baby when you're on the go!

Next stop was the Chinchero market.

 Traditional women's hat

Traditional women's hat

 Lauren joined a local band

Lauren joined a local band

And we saw our first llamas! (Different than alpacas. Llamas tend to be about three times the weight and much taller than alpacas)

We made some alpaca friends of our own too. Meet Tika and Wina. We've bottle-fed them breakfast twice, so now they're our new best friends.

We'll be traveling separately for a couple of days with our families, so if you don't hear from us don't worry! There will be more to come soon!

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