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Irene's Adventures

Peru - Ollantaytambo

PERU | Monday, 20 May 2013 | Views [497]

OLLANTAYTAMBO

 We finally arrived in Ollantaytambo and checked into the Munay Tika Hotel.  A few of us quickly took off for the Ollantaytambo archeological site.  It was a really good warm up for tomorrow's trek. I don't know how many steps there are, but it is enough to make you gasp for air at high altitude.

 

Ollantaytambo  

Once at the top we got to see some really good examples of their drainage systems and masonry, as well as the wall of six monoliths.  The largest stone in the Wall of the Six Monoliths is about 4.3 m high, 2.1 m wide, 1.8 m thick, and weighs about 50 tonnes. The six monoliths are joined with narrow fillet stones, believed to act as shock absorbers in case of earthquakes. 

Just a note:  there is no mortar in the masonry.  It is cut to fit exactly into the surrounding stones.

 

 

 

Wall of 6 Monoliths  Inka masonry

Across the valley that the town sits in, one can see the 140 metre high figure of Viracocha (on left) and the Inka store houses (on right).

According to local myth,  Viracocha ('The Creator of Civilization') named Wiracochan or Tunupa, rose out of Lake Titicaca during the time of darkness to bring forth light. He made the sun, moon, and the stars. He made mankind by breathing into stones, but his first creation were brainless giants that displeased him. So he destroyed it with a flood and made a new, better one from smaller stones. Viracocha eventually disappeared across the Pacific Ocean (by walking on the water), and never returned. He wandered the earth disguised as a beggar, teaching his new creations the basics of civilization, as well as working numerous miracles. He wept when he saw the plight of the creatures he had created. It was thought that Viracocha would re-appear in times of trouble.  Sounds very familiar.....

angry face and store houses  angry man

 

 

From our vantage point we were able to see a bull fight down below and on the edge of town.  Bull fights are frowned upon, mostly by tourists, but this being a festival day, the bull fights were on!  I do not like bull fighting either, but one must consider and respect that this is part of their culture.  And also respect the fact that it is one guy, tormenting an angry animal that is much bigger and has horns!  And he torments with panache!

 

     bulll fighting   

  

I have mentioned the drainage system a few times.  In town we saw the most clever system.  The water comes down the drain with such force that it goes under the street and comes back up the other side!  Traffic is not interrupted one bit.

 

drainage system

 

We then went out for coca tea, as we all knew we had a big couple of days ahead....

A word on coca tea: The leaves of the coca plant contain aldaloids which -- when extracted chemically -- are the source for cocaine base. However, the amount of coca alkaloid in the raw leaves is small. A cup of coca tea prepared from one gram of coca leaves (the typical contents of a tea bag) contains approximately 4.2 mg of organic coca alkaloid. (In comparison, a line of cocaine contains between 20 and 30 milligrams.) Owing to the presence of these alkaloids, coca tea is a mild stimulant; its consumption may be compared to consumption of coffee or tea. The coca alkaloid content of coca tea is such that the consumption of one cup of coca tea can cause a positive result on a drug test for cocaine, however. Many  indigenous peoples use the tea for medicinal purposes.  Coca tea is often recommended for travelers in the Andes to prevent altitude sickness. However, its actual effectiveness has never been systematically studied.

 

 coca tea

 

Now try to get a good night's sleep for the trek in the morning.....

 

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