Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ollantaytambo and Pisac - Sacred Valley

The next stop was a visit to an Incan religious site. It was situated as a meeting place where two valleys met; Sacred and Pumamarca valleys.

Me and out tour guide. He was pretty awesome!

In this place we learned that there was a general who created this place as a religious meeting site as well as a 'way station.' We also learned that there were two types of terraces built; one for horticultural reason as certain produce grew at different elevations and as a way to support their buildings and help with erosion (It rains a lot in the area during the rainy season). When the general who created this place died, they said that since he was such a great man, his face appeared on the Incuyu mountain as a face. The face would apparently change expressions during times of the day as the sun hit it differently and during different seasons. It was almost a way to keep the people in check on the things they were doing; whether it was pleasing or not to their gods. We also learned of their religious totem which began at the top with the Condor followed by the Puma and finishing off was the snake.

This was where we saw how the people created the boulders and how they made niches to move them, ramps to push into place, and the 'tetris-like' design that has worked well over the years in staying in tact during the many earthquakes that occur. The people did not use wheels and pulleys to move these huge boulders, but more of a 'log-in-front-of-log' situation as the boulders were pushed down one mountain and up another. Then rocks were used to create a ramp to push the boulder in place. See, you could not just set the massive rocks on top of one another. They had to be slid into place. Can we say, shorter life-span? It was a feat to marvel at.

That one small rock you see in the niche is actually a part of the rock on the bottom right of the picture.

Ramp with man made handles to push into place.

It is also important to note that the larger the boulders for a building, the more important the building was. Houses were larger rocks put together with a type of cement whereas the huge boulders were just slid onto one another.

Ollantaytambo has also been currently funded by the government for more excavations. There were places where they had begun to dig about 5 feet down and are still finding ruins. This means that although we climbed a bit to get from one area to another, there are still many feet below that have yet to be discovered.

There were also guard towers on the mountain in front as well as larger buildings used for storing their food. You can also hike up to those, which we didn't do.

You can see a person on the right of the large building. Shows the magnificence and size of these buildings.

Our next stop was Pisac. This was a less important area, but had its own unique features. On our way there, we had our first taste of cacti fruit/passion fruit and it was delish!

Pisac had horticultural terraces as well as less important buildings along with am adjacent mountain that houses catacombs. It was a lovely spot and this was the first place where we were left on our own after a bit of a tour and climbed many steps. Our first real climb and the smallest we did.

 The catacombs.
 We hiked to the top of the moutain.
 And this is the site we saw.

On our way back to our Sacred Valley hotel, our guide took us to a place where they make Chicha, or corn alcohol. It was made by a tradition woman who speaks Kenchwa which is only a spoken language and not written.

We also played a little game of tossing heavy round-shaped fake coins towards a small wooden stand with a frog on top. Each hole counted for different points.

We also learned that although there was no written language, a way for them to communicate was through the use of knotting strings in different places.

There was also a guinea pig farm. Yes, guinea pig was a specialty and it tasted like rib meat.

 Here is where we tried Inca Cola, which tastes like gummy bears, ate an fire-baked enpanada with cheese and onion. Then we headed back to our hotel for some relaxation and dinner, desert and drinks with our Canadian friends. Kings anyone?

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