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Published: June 29th 2017
Geo: -13.52, -71.99
Today we met for breakfast in the reception at 8.30 in time for a 9am departure. With Pete on the mend, Sam would join Nat, Will and I for a walking tour of several different Inca ruins around Cusco. The four of us piled into a taxi to head for our first stop, Tambomachay. The main attraction here was the Temple of the Water, which has flowed the same as it does now since constructed by the Inca hundreds of years ago. This site also contained the remains of an old watch tower. From the top you could see our next destination, the Puka Pukara ruins, or Red Fort.
Puka Pukara used to serve as a resting point, place of refuge, shelter and lookout for those traveling through the area back in Inca times. The Fort still contained several remains of Inca buildings and provided an excellent vantage point of the area. We stayed here a while before catching a public bus just down the road to our next destination. Q'Enqo was largely destroyed and desecrated by the Spanish after their conquest of the area many years ago. In the centre of this amphitheater area, stood the remains of a
giant boulder, that used to be in the shape of a Jaguar. Here, the people would hold great rituals at the time of the winter solest. When the light struck the sundials and altars here in a specific way, sacrifices would be made and the fortunes of the years ahead would be determined by the priests. Whilst these altars were inaccessible, there was one altar here we could touch and have a look at. Located underground, through a cave, between great boulders, a simple stone altar was carved into the earth. It was freezing cold to the touch. Our guide advised that the purpose of this altar was unclear. Some believed it was used for human sacrifices, others that the dead were mummified here.
It was about a half hour or so walk from here to the largest and final archaeological site of the day, Sacsahuaman. On arrival, we navigated through a really tight, dark, winding tunnel. Apparently the Incas hid from the Spanish in places such as these. We emerged from the tunnel into a large amphitheater with scattered ruins and altars. Our guide advised that nearby there was a huge tunnel, kilometres long rumored to stretch all the
way to the Cusco Cathedral. It had been sealed after recently some "bad men" ventured in there and were never seen again. There were also rumours of dark spirits and evil forces within. We crossed the amphitheater, by a naturally formed slide in the rocks to a viewpoint of Sacsahuaman. This was a spectacle to behold, a giant temple structure, build with 5 foot monolith limestone boulders, in a jagged pattern to represent lightning to which this sacred site was dedicated. Our guide advised the walls here used to be double the height, but were plundered and destroyed by the Spanish who obtained 90% of the materials to build the cathedral in Cusco from this site. We crossed over to the temple, climbed some stairs and stopped at several vantage points with views of Cusco and the White Jesus, essentially a copy of the Christ the Redeemer we saw recently in Rio. After a while we descended down again into the city of Cusco.
Our guide left us with free time and Sam returned to the hotel to check on Peter. We wandered around town aimlessly for a while, realizing how exhausted we were from trapsing about in the heat
on practically no sleep. We stopped for a late lunch at the "highest altitude 100% Irish owned pub in the world". Garlic bread and dumplings. From there we wandered the markets, buying bits and pieces. One little item, we somehow managed to lose or leave behind in the store. Only a couple dollars lost and we bought another but an indication of how tired we were getting.Nat and I had dinner tonight with our guide at a place commonly used for Intrepid groups. The food was pretty good and we learned to make our own Pisco Sours, a famous local cocktail. We returned to the hotel, which was again a ruckus of construction, noise, and commotion, compounded by the arrival of another group. We tried to mask the noise for hours, watching the Shawhank Redemption. Tomorrow, we are headed towards Machu Picchu!
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