Tag Archives: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Terraced farming

Terraced farming

The Incas built  Machu Picchu 8,000 ft above sea level in the dense woods of the Peruvian Andes Mountain. It’s a couple of hours (in present time) from Cusco by a colectivo bus to Olantatambo and then another bus or train to Aquas Calientes or a taxi to and from Portoy and  looong train ride from/ to Aquas Calientes.

Since the Spanish never found Machu Picchu, called the ‘Lost City’ by Hiram Bingham, the Yale professor who ‘discovered it,’ it remains mostly intact. He was told about the ruins by a local farmer, to whom he gave a single coin, and the  youth who led Bingham’s party them to it, a few coins.

Machu Picchu, spreads  over a five-mile area, and  has more than 150 buildings consisting of homes, baths, temples, sanctuaries, and out buildings for livestock. The  steep, narrow stone agricultural terraces, and a sophisticated irrigation system around the city blend into the landscape’s natural settings, and if you think about how it must have been to farm them, are mind-blowing.  The Temple of the Sun and  the Intihuatana stone, a granite rock that is said to be have been a solar clock or calendar are examples of both  creativity and engineering.  It’s unclear what its purpose was, or why the city was  abandoned.

I climbed to Intipunku, which means Sun Door in Quecha. It took me  over an hour of slow climbing on a rocky, uneven path that curls around the mountainside. Intipunku is the last stop for those more intrepid folks who hike the five day Inca trail. However one gets there, the view is stupendous. Check out the photo of the terraced garden below the site. How small the large city of Machu Picchu looks! Hikers I met who were on their way down felt compelled to say, “only a few more minutes now, or just a bit more, or you’re half way or a quarter way.” One guy said, “it’s tough but you will be so proud of yourself when you reach the top.” I said, in a mocking way, “shut up!” He roared laughing.

No matter how many photos one sees, the first view of this organized, sprawling city, terraced fields, and more than 3000! steps (I didn’t count them) takes your breath away. It’s a must see, and not as expensive as one is led to believe. A couple at my hostel in Cusco hiked in from the electric plant on the Aquas Caliente River never paying a penny, except for the colectivo.

 

 

Foundations That Last.

In every country there are ruins; old stone walls, chimneys, foundations.  As a child, I remember climbing over a stone foundation on the East bank of the Allegheny River that was said to have been an old house that President Washington had slept in. Maybe he did; maybe he didn’t. What mattered to me then was it was off-limits because of snakes,  its close proximity to the river, and it was too far for me to hear my mom call if she wanted to check on me.

We, the other naughty children who explored with me, because it was pretty much off-limits to all of us, made up stories about the place. We were sure it was haunted, that it was inhabited by spirits of the dead indians the army had killed, and white people who went to the house and never were seen agaIn. Nevermind that the Allegheny Indians were peaceable folks, in our tales, the white men always got scalped, the indians were shot with new Winchester rifles. The women, well, unless they were Annie Oakley, which in my mind I was, they kept the home fires burning.

During my treimage image image

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

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ruins in Olantatambo (sacred valley)

ruins in Olantatambo (sacred valley)

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Inca Foundations the Spanish used to build their churches on.

Inca Foundations the Spanish used to build their churches on.

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12 sided stone-truky incredible

12 sided stone-truy incredible

k around Peru,  I’ve visited ruins of pre-Inca people such as the  Chachapoyas, Wari,  Moche, Nazca, ..and many more…than the  Inca. As I wandered through the impressive  foundations, I wondered  what games the children played, how the family structure was set up, if the girls coud be warriors? I know they had engineers, astronomers, shaman, warriors, builders, laborers, masons, farmers, and managers, but how did the community function exactly?

The foundation of anything depends on the people. Marriages, education, emotional stability and of course the physical stuff that  I, and many thousands of folks and academics have been exploring. Thanks to the Incas who built Machu Picchu where the greedy Spanish couldn’t find it we have a whole city of foundations to learn about the culture. The Inca empire was the largest empire in pre-Colombian America. It stretched through what are now five countries, from Ecuador to Chile, taking in Argentina, Bolivia, and Columbia.  Five major languages were spoken (Quechua the official ) and lots of other smaller ones because as the Incas subdued other tribes their languages and customs were incorporated. Quechua is still spoken by many people in Peru.

However, as grand, strong, and intelligent as they were,  the Inca empire only lasted from 1438 to 1533. 95 years! They were overthrown by, and yes I’ll say it again, greedy men who were motivated by Christian greed; men who believed that if you didn’t believe as they did, you didn’t deserve to live.

The Inca religion worshipped the sun, the stars, and Pachamama-mother earth. Their communities were built to last. The  buildings did; the culture didn’t. They were overpowered by might, (bigger, better weapons), the passion felt by people who were convinced they were right and everyone else was wrong, and the unquenchable thirst for money-(gold).