This morning we woke up to a beautiful sky, dotted with small white plumes. And as the sun played behind the clouds, we went from being hot to cold, to hot again while we waited outside for our Sprinters. Forgetting to bring along a light jacket while day-tripping in Cusco is a mistake because as soon as you think it’s too hot, the sun (in keeping with Murphy’s Law) goes into brief hiding again and the mercury surrenders 15 degrees. This was simply a minor, tedious inconvenience given the marvel we were about to experience. And to me, anytime the sun is shining (albeit intermittent)…it’s a wonderful day!
We headed off to Saqsayhuaman (think…sexywoman) and some wondered how this ruin (which has several different spellings) could impress or offer anything more than we’d already seen. I mean, after Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu what’s really left? During the drive into Cusco the day before, we actually got a quick glimpse of the ruin and it certainly didn’t offer any major “wow” from the road. But (and I had to inform my guests of this at the time) at Saqsayhuaman, it’s all about the scale. “Just wait”, I told them. We had already seen some massive stones at Ollantaytambo but these were even more massive. And once we arrived at the ruin, a quick survey of the rolling hills that the Inca had to negotiate caused all mouths to be completely agape with awe as we stood beside them. These stones were 10-12 ft tall and we were informed that there was another 6 feet below the ground! One of the stones (the biggest in the ruin) was said to weigh as much as a 727! And let’s not forget, the stones weren’t simply placed in some random order. They were, once again, all interlocking and beveled and smoothed to fit perfectly with all the surrounding stones! The whole experience was unbelievable and we all joked about the aliens again, coming down to offer their extra-terrestrial help in the stone transportation effort! But what an insult not to simply give the credit that these geniuses so deserve. And I had to make that point aloud. We still don’t know exactly how they did it…but they indeed accomplished, some 500 years ago, this monumental construction without any of the technology we would need today! And the mystery is what makes it so remarkable.
If Cusco was created in the shape of a puma, Saqsayhuaman comprised its head. And the ruin is shaped like a zig zag or lightening bolt. It turns out that for all the hoopla that the sun god, Inti receives in Peru, the lightening god, Illapa is more powerful. Why? Because the lightening god shows himself day and night! Ahhhh…riiiiight!
After moving on to explore the upper section of the ruin, we walked across the large, grassy promenade to some natural caves near an ancient aquifer. I handed out flashlights and we tiptoed through the tight turns of the caves. We then continued down and around to the street, Puma Curco which follows along the spine of the puma and the 20-minute walk provides amazing views of Cusco below with its red sea of tiled roof tops.
Upon arriving back at Casa Andina, I reflected a bit on what we’d all just seen. I couldn’t help but think about human history and how for all we think we know, we’re really just speculators when it comes to recreating the past. And while we pat ourselves on the back for all our technological advancements, we lose a connection to many of the innate tools and power bestowed on us by our “creator/s”.
All that philosophising made me hungry and my great friend and guide extraordinaire Ernesto, from Ausangate suggested a local joint for lunch. Lima is known for it’s ceviche and I can personally attest to its deliciousness but I had to admit I was more than surprised with the ceviche at El Paisa. The food was fantastic! And to boot the serving of Leche de Tigre was 3 times larger than any I’d had in Lima. It was a great lunch!
We met again later for dancing- it was my last night in Cusco after all! We went to two different clubs: Both Mythology and Mama Africa are local clubs just off the Plaza de Armas. They’re both great places to hear cool, dance mixes of raggae, raegaton, dance and hip-hop. Both of these clubs are frequented by backpackers and locals alike and are open ’til the wee hours of the following morning (I’m told).
This trip overall was beautiful, inspiring, moving and even challenging at times. And you can’t help but be changed by a destination such as this. It makes one question so much about so many things- not the least of which are history, human achievement, progress and what it means to live a truly purposeful, appreciative life. Peru and its people offered so much more than anything I’d imagined prior to going. Together, they are an experience worth their weight in gold and should be enjoyed by all who desire an adventure most unforgettable. Thanks for joining me at TripsWithChris and get ready to come along on my next adventure to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands!