Cusco and Sexy Woman

Peru's flag
South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco » Cusco
May 2nd 2014
Published: May 10th 2014
Edit Blog Post

2 May 2014 Friday. Lima was ok, but we were really looking forward to traveling through the heart of the Inca Empire, and its capital Cusco.

The morning was spent flying from Lima to Cusco. We checked into our hotel with enough time for a light lunch (see picture of Linda with her chicha morala now her favorite...made of purple corn) before the tour started at 1:30 pm.

First a word about tour guides. The information they impart does not seem to come from a common source that all tour guides draw from. Each has his/her own version of "facts" that is often contradicted by subsequent guides. It didn't take long for us to accept the input with a grain of salt...judging for ourselves based upon the evidence presented whether to accept the stories being told. So in my recitation of what I learned in this and subsequent blogs, please don't leave too many comments correcting what I've written!

Our tour was made up of a mix of folks from English speaking countries...Americans, English, and Australians for the most part. This saved time as every word did not have to be restated in Spanish. One American had
Linda with a bowl of the variety of cornLinda with a bowl of the variety of cornLinda with a bowl of the variety of corn

The Incas were experts in hybridization and experimentation producing many variations of corn, potatoes, and other crops.
read "The Last Days of the Inca" by MacQuarie before the trip, so was providing additional and sometimes contradictory information to those around him throughout the tour. I will read this book once I get home, but this left me wondering whether it was better to read about a place before or after one visits. Reading before has the advantage of informing oneself, but has the negative factor of one forming visual images about a place that inevitably are changed by doesn't look anything like I had imagined!

Our first stop was the Temple of Koricancha, a palace used to worship the Sun God. As with most Inca buildings in Cusco, the foundations had been overlaid with Spanish buildings; in this case a Dominican monastery. The only fact that all guides agreed was that the Conquistadors and Catholic missionaries, whether Dominican or Jesuit, had a devastating impact on Inca culture, destroying most of their art and buildings. Here enough remained that we could get some understanding of the unique construction whereby stones were cut and placed so precisely, that a razor blade could not be inserted between the huge blocks of stone. My pictures include examples and explanations
Linda enjoying her chicha moradaLinda enjoying her chicha moradaLinda enjoying her chicha morada

This drink is made of purple corn and is sweet. Tastes delicious.
of their building technique. But again, some information was contradicted...our guide stated that the angle used for walls and door and window openings to counter the forces imposed by earthquakes was 17 degrees...other stated that the angle was between 13 and 17 degrees. I can agree that all structures were built with some angle, and that this resulted in just minor damage from great earthquakes. We also learned about the importance of the snake, puma, and condor as representatives of the hierarchy of nature from earth to sky. Cusco was laid our in the shape of a puma, with Sacsayhauman being the head.

Our next stop was the Plaza de Armas or Main Square, which in every city we visited was surrounded by the most important buildings, with the cathedral being the foremost. We were able to visit the Cusco cathedral, but not allowed to take pictures, as was the case for all religious buildings we would visit in Peru and Bolivia. We learned that the wealth of silver and gold plundered by the Spanish was divided between the church and the crown, with the church receiving a bit more than 50%. Whereas the crown had all their gold and silver shipped back to Spain, with some loss to pirates and storms, the church used some of their loot to build massive alters and decorate the interiors of their churches, with prolific use of gold leaf to cover most surfaces. The alter in the one of three sections of the cathedral used over 50 tons of silver.

We then drove to the northern outskirts of Cusco to see the temple/fortress of Sacsayhuaman, otherwise known to tourists as Sexy Woman. As can be seen in the pictures, this complex is constructed of massive, megalithic rocks; with the same technique where there is no space between each rock. We climbed all over the site and saw the remains of the observatory. Almost everything that the Incas built was aligned in some way with the sun or stars, as recognizing the change in seasons was extremely important in determining when to plant and when to harvest. For the Incas, agriculture was everything as their civilization was dependent upon successful crops...more about that in subsequent blogs. Mother Earth was perhaps their most important god as far as providing sustenance.

We then visited the prerequisite tourist trap where we were given demonstrations
The Serpent, Puma and Condor symbols on the terrace next to the Temple of the SunThe Serpent, Puma and Condor symbols on the terrace next to the Temple of the SunThe Serpent, Puma and Condor symbols on the terrace next to the Temple of the Sun

The snake represented the lower parts of the earth. The puma represents the earth. And the condor represents the sky.
of weaving, from the use and qualities of llama, alpaca, baby, alpaca, and vicuna wool, to the use of various herbs to produce natural dyes, so that we would understand what was the highest quality. The shop had piles of the results of these efforts for sale, and of course went to support native artisans.

Our final stop was the east gate to the city, where tolls for those traversing the Inca Trail would pay the toll, where runners could deliver their messages, and the undesirable turned back.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


The guide explaining about Inca construction using the Temple of SunThe guide explaining about Inca construction using the Temple of Sun
The guide explaining about Inca construction using the Temple of Sun

Walls, doors and windows were constructed at 13-17% angles to preserve the structure from earthquakes. The stones were cut by using thermal expansion and contraction. The space between stones is so tight that a razor blade cannot fit.
East gate to Cusco on the Inca TrailEast gate to Cusco on the Inca Trail
East gate to Cusco on the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail was 5000 km long, linking the Empire from northern Chile and Argentina through Bolivia and Peru to Ecuador. Every 20 kilometers or so there were rest stations (tambos) for the couriers who ran to deliver messages. Messages could also be passed visually using highly polished silver plates.

10th May 2014
Linda enjoying her chicha morada

Ah the joys of Peru
Glad you are getting a good history lesson. We'll be glad to hear your thoughts after you read that book on your return. I'm sure the stories are close enough to give you the idea of historical events. We loved our time in Peru and are eager to read more. Thanks for your impressions.
11th May 2014
Linda with a bowl of the variety of corn

Off to a grand start!
Wow, you really covered a lot of ground in your time there. Interesting that the guides all had different accounts, which I have to say is a bit bizarre--rather like our experience here in La Paz, eh? That frothy chicha morada is the yummiest I've ever seen--I want one! Glad you enjoyed your time in one of my favorite cities!
11th May 2014

I love the theoretical turn your blog has taken. The 'common source' of the guides information and their interpretation of "facts." And then you have the tourist imparting 'truth' by proxy, from MacQuarie. As an Andean Anthropologist in a previous life, I have a particular interest in this subject. I know you'll keep telling it how you see it and shooting from the hip. Let it flow!
11th May 2014
Linda enjoying her chicha morada

Chicha morada
I have never heard of this drink, but love the the sound of it. Lovely photo!
11th May 2014

Hahaha love the title of this blog
I also called it "sexy women" for a while... its just easier that way! I am glad you discovered that every guide has his own version of things in Cusco, we also felt the same way! Hope you enjoy the rest of your touring, especially the food part of it!!
11th May 2014

My title was also an experiment...
to see if the word sexy generates a huge number of hits. Not only to guides have a different view of facts, spelling also varies. For example Cusco is also spelled Cuzco. And Sacsayhuaman can also be spelled Saqsayhuaman. As there was no Inca or any other tribal written language, many words and names are just assigned by scholars. Thanks for your comment!

Tot: 0.68s; Tpl: 0.023s; cc: 68; qc: 231; dbt: 0.0632s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 2.1mb