O ne early January morning in the mid-1980s after a daylong journey from Ayacucho (formerly “Guamanga”), I (Lidio) found myself being guided across a small rope bridge hanging across the Pampas River. This was my first experience on such a bridge, made with an astonishing ancient technology that uses twisted branches to form a crossing. Although it looked to be only about 20 meters long, the bridge, called Chuschichaka, was beautiful: a reminder of ancient times, when similar bridges existed along trails and roads that linked the Inca Empire.
F rom the town of Chuschi, where I started my journey that day, my destination of Sarhua seemed to be just nearby. But because of the rugged landscape, the trip was long and exhausting: It took hours to hike the distance, with the rope bridge in the middle. At last, our team arrived in Sarhua and was welcomed by the community with food, drinks, music, and dance. Their hospitality made our visit an incredible and unforgettable experience.
M y mission at that time as an archaeologist was to investigate ancient agricultural terraces in the region. As I prepared for my work, I was told that there was an important activity taking place that day: the reconstruction of a larger bridge nearby called Tinkuqchaka.