Monday, February 11, 2013

Peru - last day in Cuzco, Part 2

 Our next stop was a group of lesser known or visited sites right outside of Cuzco.  Ancient developments of walls and terraced gardens are scattered throughout the Cuzco area, showing the amount of agricultural development that supported several different civilizations, pre-Inca and after the Spaniards arrived. Areas known as Puca Pucara, Cusilluchayoc, Qenqo, and Sacsayhuma'n, contained the remains of temples, terraced gardens, and fortified walls, with the remains of ancient reservoirs.  The majority of these sites do not generate the interest that Machu Pichu does. 

An overlook of what was once huge terraced gardens.
 A lot of the terraces are still in use today and when you stop at various overlooks you can see the crops that are being planted or harvested.

Sometimes all that is left is a wall and an idea what was there.

Places along the road that once contained homes, a village or maybe a farm are everywhere.  It's hard to imagine that during the time of the Inca the Andres mountains were home to thousands of people, living and farming in very thin air and creating a culture that leaves modern man puzzled on how they did that.

The new inhabitants of Cuzco have placed their own memorials to the ancient sites.  The population now are mostly Catholic.

Cusilluchayoc  is the remains of a temple complex dedicated to the sun.  There are lots of theories around the complex but what I found fascinating was the underground formations.  The rocks and tunnels that borrow underneath the soil actually make the temperatures cool enough that it could be used for refrigeration of meats.

There are areas underground that may have been used as sacrificial sites; others as food storage, such as meat from successful hunts. 

During the winter months the rock formations can actually make ice in one of the streams or food placed within these areas can freeze.

Part of the theory is that the tunnels are laid out in such a manner that air rushing from above is cooled on the cold rocks.  The cycle continues until the rocks are actually refrigeration sources.

Going from outside in the 70s to the near 40s underground was a chilling experience in a tee shirt.

Sacsayhuma'n is another site that have more mysteries than knowledge associated with it.  The stones that make up what is assumed to be a fortress are placed together without any mortar and even a piece of paper cannot be slipped between them. 

Archaeologists don't have any explanation about the site.

Depending on who you ask or what you believe these stones were placed at this site over 1000 years ago, before the Inca, OR they were molded in place, each stone molded to fit where it needed to be.  These stones are granite, show signs of being exposed to extreme temperatures and there aren't any tools in the vicinity or a quarry nearby where the stones could have come from.

One thing is known for sure, human civilization at this moment cannot duplicate it.

Leaving Sacsayhuma'n we headed away from Cuzco and into the mountains.  Maria had a site in mind that was off the beaten track by miles.  We turned off the pavement and started up a gravel road barely wide enough for one vehicle.  The SUV growled up the mountain, higher than Cuzco until we reached Tipon.  (From Wikipedia: The Tipon complex is located near Oropesa in the Community of Choquepeda, 27 km southeast of Cusco and along the Cusco-Puno road. It contains enclosures, terraces and an intact canal. The upper complex is crossed by the Inca Trail with an irrigation canal.)

Because of the road tour buses do not make this trip and while it's considered a 'must-see' by tourist agencies the site is quiet and serene without a crowd of people trying to climb from the tiny parking lot to the ruins.

The Tipon hydro site

Tipon was built to bring water to a village during the time of the Incas and it still works today.  It is a series of terraces that hold water that trickles from various springs in the mountains.  The terraces have been used for hundreds of years to hold water, purify water and create a home for various plants and flowers that need micro-climates for survival.

The site is beautiful, green, full of birds, wildflowers, etc.  The water trickles down to a series of waterfalls that are are still flowing to a larger stream that continues down the mountain.  Several years ago the village at the base of the mountain ran a new pipe into the stream to provide water to the community without being dependent on 800 year old technology.
There are signs stating 'no trash' and ropes across some of the pools to keep people out of the water.  While all of the area is open to the public it is mostly deserted except for locals and people hiking up the mountains to observe the immense size of the site.

I settled down under a rock wall and closed my eyes, just adsorbing the silence here.   It is a wonderful place.

The people of this area are very proud of this site and protect the peacefulness of the mountain.  No tshirt shops, no hawking vendors, no fast food places.  Just the mountain, the terraces and the water.

Our last stop of the day was a pre-Inca site that is believed to belong to the Wari Empire. This area, known as Pikillaquta is a massive pile of mud walls, rock foundations and pits.  Descendents of the Wari were incorporated into the Inca civilization, then disappeared.

Work continues on the site, with the information on the culture very sketchy.

No comments: