Published: March 18th 2011March 17th 2011
This really is an amazing place to visit, but our exploration continues to be hampered by altitude sickness issues, particularly with Abbey. Yesterday, Pauline and Abbey had to ditch out of a tour we were on and head back to the hotel for some rest. The tour company arranged for a doctor to drop by the room, and he said that she is fine, but needs to rest a bit more. He also gave prescriptions for some medication that will assist with her acclimatization. We´re not going to look down our noses at a little bit of chemical help if it means that we can get around this remarkable city.
I completed the tour, and it was a really interesting opportunity to learn about the history of Cuzco, including visiting several Inca sites. The tour started with a visit to the main cathedral, and I was thinking ´great, another church´, but this one was very much worth it. Not only is it full of gold and silver artwork, but it includes several instances where the local craftsmen who built it (having had their own religous rituals smothered by the conquerers) worked several references to mother earth into carvings in the cathedral, which the priests at the time would have viewed as purely pagan.
The tour guide was on a mission to make sure we understood that the Incas were a very advanced society, and he succeeded. Education, high quality craftsmanship (the inca walls are amazing - using only hammers and sand for smoothing, they carved blocks to perfectly square and fit them together so tight that even without mortar, you couldn´t fit a piece of paper between the stones), roads, mathematics, a modern calendar, except for a written language, they had the works.
We also visited a convent that was built on Inca walls, which were built on top of a wall from a previous civilization. Later we went to an astronomical observatory called ´Saqsaywaman´. The name is pronounced a lot like ´sexy woman´, which caught my attention. Despite the inevitable let down when we arrived, the site was again very impressive, showing the the Incas had moved even larger stones (the largest estimated at 110 tons), and then applied the same ability to sculpt the stones to fit perfectly.
Sorry no photos today, and we are travelling to Machu Pichu tomorrow, back to Cuzco Saturday evening. We´re hoping for a break from altitude sickness as MP is 800 meters lower, and the town where we will stay is 1,300 meters lower.