Monday, January 27, 2014

More Incan Ruins

I woke up well-rested for a day of adventure.  At 9 I met the ProWorld girls in the Plaza to catch a cab to Tambomachay, the furthest of the ruins we were planning to visit today.  We were going to go just get off here and walk back, but the cab driver said if we paid a little extra then he would stay around and save us a 2 hour walk to one of the ruins.  That seemed reasonable, and ­­­­­­­­Cecily’s knee wasn’t behaving well today, so we took him up on it.  Tambomachay was the smallest of the ruins, but it was still quite cool.  It had several ancient Incan duct systems that still functioned.  That’s so impressive.  Over 600 years old and still running.



The best part about this site was the surrounding trails.  We got many different views of the ruins, and were introduced to some donkeys as well.  In the end we got to walk on the hill behind the ruins, where we were met by a stampede of farm animals being herded toward some unknown destination.  Here’s a picture to illustrate what we all of a sudden noticed coming around the corner:



After managing to evade the herd, we went down and skipped over to Pukapukara, which is right next door.  Also cool, but not nearly as impressive as most of the sites we saw last weekend.  The first highlight was finding a little cave!  I wonder what its use was; it seemed to only have one entrance, with a depth of about 20 feet.  Second, the Incas were masters of utilizing natural features in their architecture.  We saw that last week in the terrace system at Pisac.  Today, it was first evident in this fortress.  The natural rock formations and the Incan wall mesh shockingly well, as seen in the picture below.



This style of development was even more obvious at Q’enqo, which was our next stop.  The 2 hour walk was greatly shortened by the presence of our cab driver.  Initially, it almost appears like the tiny fortress is nothing more than a natural rock formation.  Eventually you realize that there are some unnaturally smooth walls in the rocks and what appears to be seats present as well.  The coolest part was basically a cave between 2 rocks, complete with seats and storage compartments.



Our final intended destination was Saqsayhuaman.  Think of saying Sexy Woman and you will be near the correct pronunciation.  That’s a trick I learned from the tour guide last weekend.  This was a very impressive site; it was once the fortress with which the Incans held off the Spaniards, as it is the closest of the ruins to the city of Cuzco.  After the defeat in the Incas in Cuzco, the rocks from this fortress were used to build the most impressive churches within the city, so almost exclusively the foundations remain.  I thought the size of the fortress was incredible, but my family told me that it’s only 1/10 or 1/15 the size of Machu Picchu.  That blows my mind.  These were still impressive.  Many doorways remained; perhaps the Spaniards didn’t like the idea of attempting to lower the massive rocks.  In the foundations of the fortress are some of the largest stones I’ve ever seen used in a man-made structure.  Absolutely incredible, they must have been over 15 feet tall and sometimes equally wide.  I can’t comprehend how an ancient people was able to use these stones in a structure.  They’d have to cut it, move it, and set it up appropriately with the other surrounding rocks.  The last highlight of Saqsayhuaman was a tunnel.  I’m not sure what it’s purpose was, but there was a 20 meter tunnel in one part of the fortress.  It’s not perfectly smooth or anything, but it was certainly a man-made tunnel.  Walking through it was a fantastic experience.  Here are a few pictures of the site:




Instead of being done here, our driver offered to take us to Tipon for a reasonable price.  It was over an hour drive away from Saqsayhuaman, on the same road my family took to get to Quiquijana.  As most Incan structures, it was high up in the mountains along the road.  The ancient town was better preserved than Pukapukara; you could still see where all the rooms were within it.  In the lower town most of the tops of the buildings had been removed to build the Spanish town of Tipon at the bottom of the mountain.  However, the most shocking aspect of this place were the terraces, and the corresponding water system.  They were built in a rectangular fashion, in contrast to the rounded terraces of Pisac.  However, here there was also a complex system through which water flowed from higher into the mountain to below.  As in Tambomachay, this still functions today.  But it is far more elaborate and impressive than the one or 2 channels in Tambomachay.  There is a spectacular quadruple channel at the top of the terraces, and it flows down through many other channels to reach its final destination.  To get from one terrace to another, there were also stairs built in.  Several rocks of the terrace protruded beyond the wall, which looks ancient but has held up very well until today.  Not a single stair was out of place in the whole complex.  I was very glad we made the trip out there today. 



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