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Irene's Adventures

Peru - Cuzco

PERU | Monday, 20 May 2013 | Views [461]

CUZCO

The flight into Cuzco is worth telling, by itself.  It is really disconcerting to see mountains above the airplane.  It seemed as if the plane had to weave between the mountains in order to land.  Then the runway was so close to houses it felt like we were landing in the back alley.  This could be why Cuzco is building a new airport, as well as the fact that Cuzco is the starting point for all Machu Picchu treks.  Why have tourists stop in Lima when they can come straight to Cuzco?

Cusco flag - NOT Gay flag - difference??? This is the Cuzco flag.  Very similar to Gay flag......?????

 

We had a half day in Cuzco to get used to the altitude before the trek.  We checked into la Posada del Abuelo, a lovely bed and breakfast.  Then we went to check out some highlights of the town.  The main square with its statue of Pachacuteq, the ninth Inka ruler who is credited with uniting the people to form the Inka Empire.  The square is considered the navel of the world. Naturally, the large Catholic Cathedral de Santo Domingo looks over the square.  On the opposite corner, the Iglesia La Compañía de Jesús (Jesuit Church) rivals the cathedral in size and grandeur.

 

Pachacuteq  Jesuit Church

 

Just up the street from said navel, is the Temple of the Sun.  Apparently, when the Spanish arrived they found it covered with gold and silver.  The beautiful garden in the foreground was filled with golden statues of various animals, do doubt the llama, puma and condor were among them.  The gold was to represent the sweat of the Sun God and the silver the tears of Mother Earth.  Sadly, there is no gold or silver to be seen today.  It is still an impressive building with beautiful gardens and is now a museum, showing the intricate masonry that the Spanish were not able to dismantle.  The buildings were all build slanting inward, in case of earthquakes.  They had irrigation, drainage, and sewer systems, all ahead of the "civilized" Europeans.

 

Temple of the Sun  gardens  slanting walls and masonry  masonry

 

There are murals of the Milky Way showing how the Inka's studied astronomy.

 

Milky Way

 

Quipus, sometimes called talking knots, were recording devices historically used, eventually fading from use by European writing.  A quipu usually consisted of colored, spun, and plied thread or strings from  llama or alpaca hair.  The cords contained numeric and other values encoded by knots.

 

a quipu

 

There is an interesting replica of a golden shield that was supposedly housed in the Temple of the Sun.  I have not been able to find much information on it, but it really captured my eye.

golden shield

 

No great temple or archaeological site would be complete without its markets skirting it.  This archaeological and masonry wonder was no exception.  The only difference being, you really wanted to go there; not to purchase things (which you did anyway) but to see the unbelievable masonry of the walls.  Again, natural earthquakes nor the Spanish could demolish these walls, so they just built on top of them.  How they carved these huge rocks so intricately is still a mystery. I could not get my fingernail to fit in the seams!!  Look at the tiny curve to fit the next rock.

 

Inka masonry 

 

One rock even has 12 sides!

 

12 sided rock

 

There were many people dressed in traditional dress, all available to have their photo taken, for a small price.....

 

local girl  small child

 

That night we were given an orientation on our trek.  We were each given a duffel bag that we could fill with a maximum of 6 kg, including our 2 kg sleeping bag. Everything over that had to be carried by ourselves in our day pack.   It is amazing how heavy things are.....

The next morning we loaded a small bus and were taken to the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo.

 

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