Madelyn Fairbanks: Reuters, Peru

I’ve been wrapping up two stories this week, one of which became my baby (Cusco) and has just been sent to the desk in Washington, DC and has officially been born!

Climate warming may have given Incas helping hand

Cusco was amazing. I went with one other guy from Reuters who did the TV version of the story. We made a great team and I learned a ton from him–he is an old dog in the business and taught me many tricks of the trade. Cusco is a beautiful town with so much character, it is officially one of my favorite cities in the world. I will definitely be back, I loved it. And my GOD was it nice to be in the sun!

We were covering the emergence of a new theory from a British paleoecologist who concluded, by analyzing a large soil sample in the Andes, that the swift rise of the Incas was due almost entirely to a 400-year period of natural climate warming which allowed them to grow crops at higher temperatures. He and his two kids, 9 and 11, picked Carlos and I up at the airport and we immediately made our way to the ruins. Not only were we so lucky to be able to spend that much time with a source, but we he and his kids were lovely, so good-natured, good-humored, funny, intelligent, and generally wonderful to be around. By the end I felt like we had all been on a family vacation together. Alex Chepstow-Lusty, the scientist, led us around several different Inca ruins, high up in the Andes and to tiny villages where Inca decedents still lived and worked hidden in 8,000 feet of mountainsides covered in thousands of ancient, unused agricultural terraces.

Right now I’m waiting for my now good-travel buddy Carlos to head off to Pisco in the south of Peru go cover protests.  Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of a terrible earthquake that destroyed the region and could be equated to the USA’s Hurricane Katrina. 500 people died and are still living in tents without hospitals. It will be sad and to see the devastation, but good to get the perspectives of the people living in it. I’ll keep you updated.

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