June 29, 2008
After our morning visit to Machu Picchu, the group met up again and took our bus to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incas. En route, I snapped these photos of the countryside with snow-capped mountains in the distance:
I did not write in my journal on June 30, so have had to reconstruct that day based on my photos, my (faulty) memory, and information downloaded from the Internet.
June 30, 2008
Visiting a market
In the morning, we started out visiting a market. I took a few pictures there, but I am including some of my husband’s pictures, too, which are more interesting than mine in this case. I have seen many Latin American markets so I don’t “see” the strange and unusual, and I tend to stop and shop, while my husband roams around the whole place. Here are some of the pictures, which say far more than words (some have captions).
If you are grossed out by pictures of skinned animals, scroll down to get past the following pictures.
Before long, we were on a bus to the fortress of Sacsayhuaman (sometimes referred to by Americans as “Sexy woman” because the word sounds sort of like this, but actually means Satisfied Falcon), on a hill above Cusco. This Inca fortress represented the head of a puma, with the rest of Cusco being the body. What exists of this fortress today is only 1/5 of the original fortress. The most impressive features are the massive limestone walls, zigzag shaped to resemble the teeth of the puma, and in which you can see markings on the rocks, as well as shapes of animals and people made out of the rocks themselves.
According to information I found on the Internet (and perhaps we were also told this on our tour, I don’t remember) about 5,000 Quechua warriors garrisoned the fortress, but their clubs and other weapons were no match for the well-armed, mounted conquistadores.
Upon our arrival, one of the first things we encountered were…port-a-potties! These had been set up for the festival of Inti Raymi, which had taken place only a few days before. (In Cusco we also saw some remnants from this festival, which means festival of the Sun God. It takes place over a period of days, and hundreds of actors represent historical figures.) I have included below a picture of these picturesque port-a-potties (painted to “blend in” with their surroundings).
According to the web site (and again this was probably something we were told on our tour also)
Sacsayhuaman was the site of a battle between the invading Spanish forces and the Incas. Manco Inca (the last Inca ruler) fought the invaders, but lost. After his defeat, in which most of his forces were killed, he retreated to Vilcabamba, (sometimes referred to as the “lost city of the Incas” that Hiram Bingham was seeking in 1911 when he found Machu Picchu).
Legend has it that flocks of condors descended on the dead left on the grounds of the fortress. The Inca loss is commemorated by eight condors on Cusco’s coat of arms.
Next: A visit to a shaman, jewelry factory, art museum