From Cuzco with Love

Following a brief stop in Washington for a conference and a bunch of days in New York, I finally headed to Peru. After a ridiculously long flight with a stop in Toronto and one in Lima, I eventually landed in Cuzco, once the capital of the Inca empire, today the capital of tourism and expensive trinkets.

As expected and anticipated, Nick was waiting for me in Cuzco airport. Partner in life, in crime and of improbable jungle missions, this day has marked for both of us the beginning of a new chapter. Primary mission: survival. Secondary mission: make a film. Tertiary mission: have fun and not kill each other.

At this point I feel like I should give you a little bit of background to this story. Why am I in South America and what does a film have to do with all this?

The main reason for this journey in South America is to make a short film about the unheard sounds of the rainforest. What do I mean by that? Well, start by considering that anything that moves makes a sound, no matter how quiet this might be. As long as there is air (or any other kind of medium) to relay the vibrations caused by such movement, there will be a sound produced, whether you can hear it or not. So what I wanted to do was to focus on all those natural sounds which aren’t as well known or obvious as the loud calls of monkeys or the complex songs of birds… all those sounds that make up the bed of noise that you can hear when you stop walking and start listening in nature. The billions of tiny ants, the slow and heavy beetles, the tirelessly singing crickets, the hundreds of restless hoppers, the mantis, the spiders, the scorpions and the millipedes. In other words, Arthropods, the real masters of the forest, slowly but incessantly shaping it, leaf after leaf, tireless workers moving the heavy wheels of the ecosystem forward. What sounds do these creatures make? Can we learn anything from their songs? What does it feel like to direct your ear towards the ground and let these millions of creatures talk to each other?

With this in mind, a few microphones at hand, a DSLR camera to film, a lot of inexperience and way too much optimism, we both decided to go spend 30 days in the wild primary jungle of the Manu National Park of Peru to try to make a film about the unheard songs from the rainforest.

In the meantime, while preparing ourselves physically and psychologically for this test of motivation and endurance, we spent five days in Cuzco, battling against altitude induced headaches, drinking ridiculous amount of mate de coca, horse riding in the beautiful countryside, and enjoying the many and very jolly happy hours the city has to offer. Cuzco, you’re not so bad after all!

Cuzco rooftops

Cuzco rooftops

Even cars have emotions

Even cars have emotions

Model meets her portrait in an exhibition of pictures by Mario Testino portraying traditional Peruvian clothing

Model meets her portrait in an exhibition of pictures by Mario Testino portraying traditional Peruvian clothing

Two small statuettes of bulls, found on the roof of most Peruvian houses, are said to bring good luck and protection.

Two small statuettes of bulls, found on the roof of most Peruvian houses, are said to bring good luck and protection.

Cuzco, after 30 minutes of breathtaking (literally, considering the altitude) walk up the hill

Cuzco, after 30 minutes of breathtaking (literally, considering the altitude) walk up the hill

Me and Altair, the horse that very kindly and slowly showed me around the incredible countryside outside the city

Me and Altair, the horse that very kindly and slowly showed me around the incredible countryside outside the city

The stunning bucholic landscapes surrounding Cuzco

The stunning bucholic landscapes surrounding Cuzco

Nick standing by Saqsaywaman which, although the name might suggest otherwise, means falcon in Quechua

Nick standing by Saqsaywaman which, although the name might suggest otherwise, means falcon in Quechua

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