It is interesting to see the way that Catholicism has merged with the local culture of Peru. Just yesterday i was walking home and i saw in front of a Catholic church a band playing  traditional Peruvian music in front of a crucifix. Also, they have a day for Santa Rosa de Lima when they have parades here in Cusco as well. The people dress traditionally, play traditional music, and do traditional dances. Many people do have a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary as i have heard is true in most of Latin America. I have also gotten to see many Pre-European religious sites. Many Incan religious ruins where their stonework was nearly flawless, and the architecture in general is breathtaking and mysterious. A common question is, “How didd they move huge boulders without even the development of the wheel?” In many of the sites they had very impressive irrigation as a symbol of a water deity.

As for myself, i have not gone to any churches here as of yet. It has been a different experience for me, and i feel that being in a foreign place, with a completely different culture, having very little familiarity has brought me closer to God. I know that living in the United States, often doing the same, or at least similar, things day after day, it is easy to get comfortable. It is easy for me to slip out of a healthy spiritual routine of prayer, but now that i am out of my bubble, it has brought me to reality. With less Internet, less Hollywood, less video games, i am faced with the real world where it is more clear what is important. In regards to religion, traveling has been very good for me, and the anthropologist in me is fascinated by the cultural adaptations that have taken place within the Catholic Church in Peru.

Jack Hayford is studying abroad in Cusco, Peru, with ProWorld.