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image of trees and mountain Preserving the Past, October 5, 1996
Written and Photographed by Liesl Clark

The Ascent | Digging in Thin Air | The Mummy's Journey | Preserving the Past

There is no trace of Inca heritage visible from the streets of Arequipa, an Andean city heavily influenced in its architecture and folklore by the Spanish conquistadors. The white, snow-covered slopes of the surrounding volcanoes and mountains turn to brown and then meet the green tree-lined streets of Arequipa. The city sits like a huge crossroads, an intersection whose streets lead off toward the mountain deities looming in the distance. Ornamented pillars and intricately patterned lanterns replace the dusty dirt roads and simple dwellings of Quilcata at the base of Sara Sara.

image of collonade The bus pulls up to the curb and comes to a stop outside our hotel. The 24- hour journey from Sara Sara to Arequipa with Sarita, our 500-year old Inca mummy, has finally come to an end. The long, hot shower dreamed of for the last two weeks is now only minutes away. We stumble, sticky and dusty from our long journey, into our rooms, drop our dry bags and equipment on the floor, and head straight for the soap. Within an hour the press arrive to take pictures and do an interview for what will result in a flurry of headlines in local and regional newspapers.

image of newspaper collage

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