Monday, October 09, 2006

One step closer to turning 100 years old

In just one day you pass several seasons here in the Cusco region. Yesterday we went hiking with a fellow traveler, Glenn, from Australia around some of the Inca sites surrounding Cusco. We started of in shorts, feeling the sun as Danish summertime, then the sky went grey and rain started pouring down leaving us in autumn mode dreaming of hot chocolate. Reaching the top of the hills, the Andean wind started to kiss our cheeks making us curse that we didn’t bring our llama-gloves. And back home in DK we say that the weather is unpredictable? Hmmm….

Having said that, - it was a good hike. We started of at the Inca ruin Saqsaywaman, 20 min. from Cusco. The stones are shaped and put together in a way making it really art work. The main purpose of the place seems to have been to defend Cusco, presumable against the Chaskas. The Spaniards used to call it a fortress, but apparently it was so much more: A whole neighborhood with residential areas and temples.
As mentioned earlier, Cusco has the shape of a Puma if you see it from above.
For the Incas the Puma is a symbol of Strength and Power. Cusco was the center of their world, making it their most important strategic and political site, why the Puma symbol made good sense. Saqsaywaman is the head of that Puma.

After Saqsayaman we hiked to Q’enqo – another Inca ruin. We started to regret not having booked a tour. The interpretation of the ruins can be rather difficult on your own. Why is there carved a zig zag shaped drain? What is the purpose of all the niches? We gate-crashed an American group and found out the importance of the llamas. For the Quechua-people the llamas is a sacred animal. Many of the ruin sites have the llama symbol carved into the stones.
At that point the rain started to poor down so we took a taxi (actually the taxi driver inspired us to drive instead of walk) and we got a ride to Puka Pukara - a stronghold providing collective lodging for civilian and military personnel during the Inca period. Actually the ruins are dated back to the pre-Incas. From there it was only a short walk to the ruin Tambomachay, which was used by the Incas for relaxation, purification and worshipping the water. For the Incas the water was the symbol of life, why it was of great meaning for them, being very dependent on agriculture. We rushed to the ancient water fountain knowing that drinking the water would make us more than 100 years old. Let’s see…
After that we called it the day and took a bus heading for Cusco. We enjoyed a Chifa (Chinese lunch) with Glenn and hid ourselves in the Internet world.


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