Yesterday, we mostly saw the insides of Catholic cathedrals and heard interesting facts about the Spanish conquest. Today, we explored ruins of Kichwa (correct term for the Inca’ s culture) temples, just outside of Cusco. When the Spanish invaded they tried to wholly destroy the Kichwa temples to gain power and to subdue the Kichwa culture. They could only destroy parts of the temples though; the Kichwa construction was solid and hard to destroy. Time has not effected the Kichwa’s structures. During the day, we had a rather enjoyable transport to several jaw drooping ruins.
In order to get to the Kichwa ruins, we decided to go on horse back. After a thirty minute taxi ride, we picked up Perseus, Rosa, Capricious, and The Eagle. On these, the four of us, Mom and Dad, Joel our guide, and I ventured up a short and steep hill, and down the other side to a small subburb of Cusco. Here a set of two ruins lay.
The horse back riding, was not as I expected, in fact it was better! We expected the horses would walk single file and each one would have a manager, holding a rope and slowly leading the horse. Instead, the man who owned the majestic beasts taught us how to control the horses. Of course, they have been trained to never go faster than a trot, but this they performed well. The man always ran beside the horses and helped us learn how to make them trot or slow down. The horse trainer told me that the horse in front of me was hard to pass, because she like being in the lead. I took it upon myself to pass her. I fulfilled my task several times and enjoyed the small thrill of trotting.
The Kichwa ruins were unique and stunning. While I walked the stone corridors, I thought I was not in a ruin but in a rock fortress. The majority of the temples were roofless, but once the maze of carved and stacked rocks funneled into a tunnel. At first, I looked into the passage way and thought it was a shallow crack between two rocks. Once I had squeezed through the narrow, black hole, all light vanished. Around me was pitch blackness. I walked for five minutes with my head ducked and my hands touching each side of the of the dark passageway. Joel told us that this temple entrance was intended to clean us of all negative thoughts. In another set of ruins, we entered another tunnel, this one shorter, wider and less dark. Within this rocky temple, priests would sacrifice llamas and make other offerings.
Joel told us that if things were very bad in the community or something seriously bad was going on, the Inca King would occasionally sacrifice one of his children. After giving the child a hallucinogenic plant and performing a ceremony of grief, they buried the child alive. I found this a little creepy, but way more civil than a hundred men slaughtering thousands of Kichwa women and children in their siege for power. Soon, it was time to go back to Cusco after a successful day of temple viewing and horseback riding.
Tomorrow, we wake up at 5:30 in the morning to leave for a ten day trek. There will be no blogs during the trek, but one will be written afterwards to sum up the journey (May 15th)! Wish me luck!
Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!