Cusco and Machu Picchu

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March 28th 2019
Published: March 31st 2019
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Southern PeruSouthern PeruSouthern Peru

This may give you an idea of the area we covered in the past 10 days.
Our final 5 days in Peru were spent in the heart of the formerly glorious Inca Nation. At its height, when the Spanish arrived in 1523, it stretched from Chile and Argentina to Colombia. It is mind boggling that fewer than 200 Conquistadors destroyed a powerful empire of 15 million!

We marvelled at their building skills, without iron, the wheel or animals that could do the hard work, in really demanding terrain.

Their scientists developed strains of potato, corn and grains suited to climates from rain forest to desert. Yet they had no written language to record their accomplishments. The Spanish managed to reduce their number to less than one million through disease, wars and the Inquisition.

The Inca was the king. The common people were “of the Inca” his to command.

Panoramas (5 seconds between each)

1. Plaza de Armas, Cusco.

2. Maras salt ponds

3. Above Cusco

4 & 5 Machu Picchu

Enough of that lecture. Hope you enjoy the photos.

Additional photos below
Photos: 36, Displayed: 22


Puccara BullsPuccara Bulls
Puccara Bulls

The proud young man helps his father make clay bulls which adorn many Peruvian homes. The Quechua people (Inca and others) used clay llama as guardians of their homes until the Spanish arrived. The Queshua soon realized that the bull was a far more potent guardian. They are still used today.
Palacio del InkaPalacio del Inka
Palacio del Inka

We were fortunate to get upgraded to a hotel way above our budget (Thank you Peru Tourism!) In one of the courtyards women dressed traditionally display their wares and a cute alpaca.
Palacio del InkaPalacio del Inka
Palacio del Inka

The hotel was built on Incan foundations (virtually earthquake proof) and the remains of a catholic monastery.
An armed angel?An armed angel?
An armed angel?

A painting in the hotel. Maybe the NRA could adopt this into their logo.

Inca religious site perched high above Cusco affording a great view of the city. Look at that stonework!
Massive stone worksMassive stone works
Massive stone works

The engineering skills of the Inca are astounding. The Spanish pillaged what stones they could manage to build their churches in Cusco.
Fitted stoneFitted stone
Fitted stone

Here is a great example of the precision of Inca stone work. These 2 pieces fit together to add strength. More than one of our guides took great delight in telling us that in the great earthquake of 1950 the Spanish buildings fell down while the Inca structures did not.

This was the primary stone working tool of the Inca people! Close to the strength of iron. They also took advantage of stakes of wood soaked in water driven into man made niches. Overnight freezing would expand the stakes and split the stone.

The 9th Inca king and the one responsible for expanding the kingdom beyond Cusco. Machu Picchu was built as a retreat for him and other members of the Inca royalty.
Dog groomer’s worst nightmareDog groomer’s worst nightmare
Dog groomer’s worst nightmare

This poor mutt needs a complete shave and fresh start. Every town has packs of street dogs dependent on garbage for their survival. We saw some interesting cross breeds.
Display of traditional foods and fabric dyesDisplay of traditional foods and fabric dyes
Display of traditional foods and fabric dyes

All natural products of course. Every organized tour manages to channel the turistas into a shop selling “genuine” local products.
The Sacred ValleyThe Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley

Between Cusco and Machu Picchu it was by far the most fertile and prosperous farm land we had seen in Peru.

Another mind boggling revelation! This was an agricultural laboratory for the Inca. Here they developed new strains of potato, maize and quinoa that would thrive in the various ecosystems controlled by them.

Hand worked salt ponds depending on evaporation. All fed from one small stream emerging from the mountain.
Aguas Calientes (hot springs)Aguas Calientes (hot springs)
Aguas Calientes (hot springs)

The town providing access to Machu Picchu, 1400’ above. It is very touristy of course as MP attracts 5000 people a day at this time of year and 10-12000 in the northern summer months. We hit the end of the rainy season. Probably late April & May, September & October would be ideal.
Casa del SolCasa del Sol
Casa del Sol

Our hotel was perched above the raging Urubamba River, which eventually joins the Amazon. The hotel was nothing fancy yet the posted room rate was $450 US and a glass of wine with dinner, $15 US ....from a bottle costing $7 in any corner store.
Off to workOff to work
Off to work

One of the local ladies with a bag of something to sell.
Symbolic Inca warriorSymbolic Inca warrior
Symbolic Inca warrior

The condor, puma and snake were sacred to the Inca, representing the world above, the world we now occupy and Mother Earth.
Machu Picchu Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

It really is a magical place. So fortunate to remain undiscovered by the Spanish who systematically destroyed everything they could of the Inca empire. It is believed to have been built as a retreat for royalty who all lived in Cusco. There were only 600 permanent residents, there to maintain order and be ready to serve. The site was abandoned shortly after the Spanish took Cusco.
Llama poser!Llama poser!
Llama poser!

He picked the perfect spot for a photo op.

1st April 2019
Incan Farewell!

Grande Finale
After all this adventure and exercise I think you two need to find a nice cosy place by a beach where you can veg out for a while and design photo books! :)

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