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Peru, Part 9 – Between Puno & Cusco

January 30th, 2013|Travel|3 Comments

La Raya Pass – ©Deidre Adams

I have to backtrack just a bit, because I forgot some good photos from the road trip to Cusco. The one time we didn’t have a private van for just our small group, we traveled in a stylish tour bus with luxurious seats and beverage service. This was the restroom for the bus station, probably the nicest one I saw on the whole trip.

Bus station restroom - Puno – ©Deidre Adams

We stopped in a small town called Pukara. This was the first time we saw “toritos,” pairs of small pottery bulls that adorn the rooftops and other parts of most houses in this region. They keep the house safe and bring health and well-being to the occupants.

Toritos of Pukara – ©Deidre Adams

Pukara (“fortress” in Quechua) is an important archaeological site. They have a small museum, Museo Litico Pukara, where we saw some some of the ancient sculptures from the site. Wall signage describes the devoradores (“devourers”), sculptures which are holding heads and were at one time interpreted to depict rituals of human sacrifice, although some now argue that no one knows if that’s truly the case. Another sign describes Pachamama:

It is an ancient custom of the peoples of the Altiplano to hold rituals, both throughout the year as well as on feast days. An example of a ritual conducted frequently would be the rite of fertility known as the Pachamama, or payment to the Mother Earth. For the peoples of the Andes, their cosmology was intertwined with many aspects of their daily lives.

Another sign describes the arrival of the Spaniards and the building of a Catholic church in the center of the ancient ceremonial center. Then they began the “extirpation of idolatries,” a campaign during which colonial authorities “destroyed or defaced most of the monoliths and effigies considered to be pagan idols.”

After more time on the road, we stopped for a nice lunch and met more llamas. Did you ever see the movie The Emperor’s New Groove? (About the only later Disney movie I really enjoyed.) For one thing, I now know why there was a character in the movie named Pacha. But more importantly, if you saw the movie, you would be familiar with the character Emperor Kuzco (played by David Spade), who is a self-absorbed young king who gets turned into a llama. When I saw this guy (below), I realized from his antics that whoever animated Kuzco had spent some time studying llamas.

Llama posing – ©Deidre Adams

I was about to take another picture of him, when he decided he’d had enough and proceeded to charge me:
Llama charging – ©Deidre Adams

At least some of the animals in Peru have better manners.
Deidre with lamb

January 30th, 2013|Travel|3 Comments

Peru, Part 8 – Cusco

January 29th, 2013|Travel|2 Comments

Cusco collage - ©Deidre Adams

I must apologize for the big gap in posting. Not that it’s any excuse, but I took so many pictures in Cusco that in sorting through them, I completely lost the ability to edit and became somewhat immobilized. The last couple of months, I’ve been spending every available minute in the studio and have a lot of new work to show, but I still want to talk about a few more Peru topics because this trip made such a big impression on me.

Cusco is such an interesting place, I could easily spend a couple of weeks just there. The architecture is a mix of Spanish colonial and the solid, surprisingly modern looking blockiness of Inca stonework. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire from about the 13th century until the Spanish conquest in the 1530s. (Lest you feel too sorry for the Incas, though, note that they built their own empire through the conquest of others who were there before them, a time-honored tradition throughout the history of mankind.) The Spanish destroyed many of the Inca buildings, but because the cut stone architecture was so well built, they kept the foundations of many of them and built their own structures on top of them.

Coricancha-Santo Domingo – ©Deidre Adams

The Spaniards destroyed the Coricancha (Temple of the Sun), once the most important temples in the Inca Empire, whose walls and floors were once covered in gold. They used the foundation to build their Church and Convent of Santo Domingo.

Although many theories have been proposed, we don’t know exactly how the precise cutting and fitting of the stones was done. We do know that it was a painstaking process, and the results were walls with such perfect joins that no mortar was necessary, and famously, the stones are “so closely fitted that a knife blade cannot be jammed between them.” (Inka Architecture.) Examples of this stonework are ubiquitous in Cusco, and more fine examples can be seen at the nearby  Sacsayhuaman complex.

Cusco - Inca wall - ©Deidre AdamsCésar explains the history of the Inca stonework

Other attractions in Cusco include many fine restaurants, museums, and plenty of shops for the tourists. For a shopping experience with more of a local flavor, the San Pedro Market offers an abundance of goods that are a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. We visited early in the morning, before it was officially open. Things were quiet, and many of the vendors seemed to be trying to catch a last little snippet of sleep before the onslaught of shoppers.

There was also a special section of the market that gave me a bit of a fright. I’ve separated these photos out so as not to catch anyone off guard.

Finally, here are more of the many sights of Cusco.

January 29th, 2013|Travel|2 Comments