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20 novembre 2016

Thanks to "El Caminante"

Most people don't know who Ricardo Espinosa Reyes is, and that is for most South Americans too. Also known as "El Caminante" ('The Rambler'), Ricardo Espinosa Reyes, after walking the coast of Peru for many months, decided to explore the "Tahuantinsuyu" (this is the name of the Inca Empire by Incas). He wanted to explore the Qhapaq Ñan (Royal Road in Quechua, the Inca language).

Espinosa with is singular trek, along the Andes road of the Qhapaq Ñan, was a pioneer and covered the stretch between Quito in Equator and La Paz, Bolivia. He walked from May to December 1999. Which brought back to life the ancient Inca road and created a excitement around the old road system. Since then, the dream to bring back this emblem of the Tahuantinsuyu as surfaced and much work as been done towards that.

At the Inca Empire's greatest moments, the Qhapaq Ñan covered a territory of over 4 million square kilometers representing a road network of more than 25,000km. These roads were designed for foot traffic, since the Incas did not have any knowledge of the wheel, nor did they have horses or donkeys. All they had as a beast of burden were the llamas, which is capable of carrying a small load, but it is impossible to ride a llama. We speak here of a man-made road, created without machinery or maps, it was the knowledge of the lands and of the inhabitants of each region that allowed such a feat. Many parts of these roads were already there before the Incas and were simply improved and incorporated into the Inca network.

Espinosa had touched Equator, Peru and Bolivia and wished that the effort would get Argentina and Chile to join in, these efforts helped restoring the Incas out of Cusco and back into all of their land. Because the Inca empire had a great expansion in the one hundred years before the arrival of the Europeans. Cusco was the center of the empire, the capital, but the empire spanned far away from the capital.

Thanks to Espinosa a union was created by Peru, Equator and Bolivia to work on a project to rediscover and promote the Qhapaq Ñan. Later Argentina, Chile and finally Colombia joined in the efforts towards the recognition of the project. The joint work and efforts to make the Qhapaq Ñan a UNESCO world heritage site was rewarded in 2014 when the UNESCO accepted the project.

Ricardo Espinosa Reyes wanted to give back to the Andes these fabulous ancient roads, by making them known and reevaluating them. There is a long way to go, to bring back from the past every parts of these roads. Many parts have been lost or forgotten, many parts have been destroyed through time.

I too, will try and help making these roads known and accessible to others. To me it is as much a physical and mental challenge to accomplish this expedition, but it also is a cultural challenge to help bring these roads to the magnificence they once were.

Thank You Mr. Reyes

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