Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peru Part 2

13 April 2010

We flew to Cusco. It is 12,000 ft in altitude and the tiny mud homes are plastered all up and down the rolling hills. This was the Inca capital and they felt it was the “Navel of the Earth”, I guess it could have worst names – like armpit or backside. First thing we got to do was ride horses up to the temple of the Moon. It was a strange little cave with a hole in the top to let in moonlight on certain nights to illuminate the stone alter. There were carved rocks shaped like a puma, a condor, a llama, a couple of snakes, and female fertility stuff. I figured it must be their make out cave. On the way back down the mountain the horses saw this huge grassy, muddy meadow and took off trotting and galloping like crazy. For Tracy it was wonderful like flying and she couldn’t help but giggle. I was in terror/pain/terror/pain/terror/pain and almost fell off more than once. We then go on the city tour to the Cuzco Catholic Cathedral and Santa Domingo where the Dominicans built the Catholic one over the Inca temple. The foundations and base walls were from the Incas and the walls and roofs are Spanish. At least the Spanish were smart about this because it took too much work to dismantle the Inca foundation and they never fell down in the earthquakes like the Spanish buildings did. The Spanish wanted the Indians to integrate into the catholic beliefs they enticed the natives with things never used anywhere else. The cathedral had mirrors because the Inca’s like them. In the artwork Mary was depicted as Mother Earth as in the Incan religion, the Savior was seen with the Sun and the Moon as in Inca times and at the Last Supper Inca chilies, corn and guinea pig was served.
We toured some of the outlying ruins near Cusco such as; The Sacsayhumwan ruins (pronounced sexy woman) are shaped like the head of a puma. The largest stone tightly fitted is 125 tons. We also visited the temple of the waterfall and the Inca trail nearby. It was their human pony express that controlled the empire and you got to admire anyone that can run up to 10 miles in that altitude in a very short time. Last stop was at the temple of mother earth where the mummified nobles laid. It was these cool caves and trails – I figured it was another make out spot with a view of the city. We had grilled Alpaca for dinner.

14 April, 2010

We left Cusco city for a tour of the Sacred Valley of the Inca’s. It was an incredible drive. We were as high as 12,500 ft and dropped to a low of 8,000 along the drive. The Andes around us went up to 18,000 ft and at that altitude you would think it would be cold, but this close to the equator it is warm all year and in these wide mountain meadows they had two growing seasons. The drive was along these narrow two way roads that had massive speed bumps across the highway multiple times in every little village. In Chincero we bought “real baby alpaca sweaters” and saw a demonstration on dying wool and spinning it with hand held spindles. In Pisac we went to a silver factory where Mark bought me cocoa leaf and silver earrings. There was a brick bakery with empanadas. In Urubamba we had lunch. At Ollanteytembo’s temple there were 7 rose colored granite monoliths on top of a terraced mountain with granaries even further up. The end of the tour was along the river valley that had flooded in Jan. The towns had evidence of the water about 3 ft high on the buildings and they said that all their fields had been flooded. The floods had wiped out the train tracks and the road in spots. The road has been repaired barely and some towns were totally isolated until repairs could be made. Most of the train cars were on the Cusco side of the break so train service to Machu Picchu was really limping along requiring additional hours of bus rides along very narrow one way dirt roads with tons of construction delays to reach the new temporary train station. That night we ate in the market and I also talked mom into eating some guinea pig – it is very expensive and the ugliest things imaginable on the picture menus.

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