Peru 2012: Day 6

Today started very early for me. I first woke up around 1:00 AM because I was really hungry after not having eaten dinner. I tried eating a granola bar, but it made me throw up. I was able to sleep after that. Unfortunately, I woke up again at 3:30. I couldn’t go back to sleep again because I was still hungry. Thus, I called Mama. She brought some chocolate and an apple. I ate the chocolate first, but threw up again. Mama fed me the apple, which managed to fill at least part of my stomach with something. Thus, I was able to go back to bed.

We were woken up at 8:00 to eat breakfast, though the tour had been postponed to 1:00 PM. The more important reason for this was that Seona was suffering from dehydration, so was sent to the clinic. The doctor had said that she should stay there all day, hooked up to the IV that would allow her to recover. Thus, after breakfast, we spent the next 4 hours relaxing. For lunch, I had a Sopa de Verduras from Mandela’s. Unfortunately, our lunch was late, so Mario had to wait for a while. He warned us that we couldn’t be late the next morning because our train to Machi Picchu wouldn’t wait for us.

The first destination was Qorikancha, which means Gold Place. It is the sun temple of Cuzco, though it was turned into Saint Dominic’s Priory by the Spanish. It was first built in the 1100s by the early Incas, but was completely revamped by Pachacutec in the mid-1400s. When it was changed into a church by the Spanish, several of the original Inca buildings were torn down and replaced with Spanish architecture involving many arches. Fortunately for the Incas, their architecture was so strong that the Spaniards were unable to tear much of it down. Thus, they incorporated it into their own church. In the center cloister of the church is a fountain which was taken by the Spaniards after conquering the Incas. It is the sacred fountain, and is placed at the
very center of the Inca empire. It was returned to Lima many years ago, and just recently replaced here in Cuzco.

From the fountain emerge four lines along each of the cardinal directions which stretch across the courtyard. In the Inca Empire, these lines separated into pieces the entire Inca Empire.

On the Northwest side of the courtyard are 3 Inca temples. The first is the Rainbow Temple. The rainbow was important to the Incas because it represented the union between the Earth and the heavens: water and sun. In the center is a stone. If one stands on it, they can see through a set of windows through the other temples. The second temple is open, and is the temple of water. There are small canals that brought water into the temple. Apparently, during Pachacutec’s reign, running water was brought to every house in Cuzco. Many of the same pipes installed during this time are still in use today, nearly 600 years later.

One story tells of two young men who went into a tunnel at Sacsayhuman, and emerged here through the water temple at Qorikancha 40 minutes later. One of them held a golden corn cob, which is now stored in the museum under the Qorikancha gardens. The final temple is the star temple. This represents the heavens. Beyond this is a small room with a model of Qorikancha as it would have looked at the time of the Incas. It was very different, as the huge building built by the Spaniards that now encased it didn’t exist.

On the other side of the courtyard are two rooms of silver and one of gold. They were filled with the materials of their name during the Spanish conquest of Peru by the nobility, to appease them. There are still remains within these rooms of the Spanish murals painted on top of the Inca temples when they were unable to break them. The room of gold also contains a sacred niche which was filled with gold (all gold and silver was transported back to Spain from Peru, though they claim that much of it was traded to the Russians during their civil war for weapons). The result of this was that on the summer solstice (December 21st), the gold would reflect the sunlight and make it appear as if the room were covered in stars. After seeing this, we proceeded to two modern paintings behind these rooms. The first showed the the most important Inca constellations overlaid on top of the Milky Way. This includes the frog, the llama, the baby llama, and the snake. The second painting showed another grouping of stars that was sacred to the Incas, though in a more complex way.

Before going outside of the building to see the sun temple, we saw a brass engraving based on an Inca chronicle. It showed many different symbols representing the various deities of the Incas.

The last thing we saw before going outside was a room full of Spanish clothing and statues. The interesting thing about the statues was that, though they were mostly of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, many of them wore traditional Inca clothes.

Finally, we saw the Qorikancha garden and the sun temple. The Qorikancha garden was recently restored to the way it was in the time of the Incas. The sun temple faces Southeast, and was once covered with a huge disk of gold.

Our next destination was Sacsayhuman. Rather than being dropped off at the main entrance, we left the van along the road, and went directly to the tunnel where the two young men went to arrive at Qorikancha. On the way, we saw a large boulder carved to be a temple, likely one to the moon. While the tunnel we went in only took us a few minutes of pitch dark to cross, there are rumors that the Incas had a tunnel that ran all the way to La Paz from Cuzco. After seeing the tunnel, we proceeded to a set of rocks that are smooth and steep enough that they are now used by children as slides. We tried doing so, and definitely enjoyed it.

After walking for a couple more minutes, we arrived at the main courtyard of Sacsayhuman, where festivities are held. For example, around June 24th, and important date for the Incas leading up to their New Year on August 1st, a play is performed there. It stars true Incas, and is entirely in Quechua.

Going down into the courtyard area, we saw the biggest rock at Sacsayhuman. Going up from there, we reached a special indent in the rock which supposedly gives energy to anybody prior to going to battle. It also has some sort of magnetic disruption, as proved by the way it affected the compass we placed there. Continuing to our highest point on foot, we passed a type of tree often used by the Incas to build furniture. Unfortunately, the material now most commonly used both for this, and for building houses, is eucalyptus wood, a non-native species for Australia introduced by the government to clean the air.

Our highest point provided a beautiful view of Cuzco, and serves as the point of the head of the puma that Cuzco is shaped like. This is where Sacsayhuman gets its name, which means marble head. Some of the other important organs of the puma are also important landmarks in Cuzco. The main square is its heart and Qorikancha is its genitals.

After observing this, and, of course, taking more pictures, we returned to the van. On the way, we bought some Coca candy, since some of us hadn’t had coca tea in the morning.

Our van was meant to take us back down to Cuzco, but there was a parade taking place on the only road down, so we had to stop and walk the rest of the way. First, however, we watched the parade. It was run by a church on the hill, and involved carrying statues of the saints honored by the church up the hill. The statues are really heavy, so this seemed like a very difficult task.

From there, we walked through the San Blas neighborhood. It is one of the more wealthy neighborhoods of Cuzco, and is home to many artists. During the time of the Incas, it was home to nobility. We passed many interesting streets with Quechua names, as well as some that were named by the Spaniards, such as Calle de los siete diablos (Street of the seven devils, which was named so because women would be bothered here during the time of the Spanish conquest). One of the street names in Quechua translates to “Place where Women Hide” because women used to hide there with their male friends. At one store along our walk back, we bought ice cream. Once we reached the base of the hill, the main area of Cuzco, Mario showed us the 12-angled rock, which represents each of the 12 seasons and was sacred to the Incas.

Finally, we reached our final destination, the Basilica Cathedral along the main square of Cuzco. It has three parts, the center, which is the oldest and largest part, and the two separate wings. We started our tour in the first wing, the newest one. It is the one where the main mass takes place, so is mostly a hall with an altar at the end. Once again, many of the paintings of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ surrounding the altar showed them in traditional Inca clothing. Entering into the main wing was more interesting. First, we saw a painting of the Last Supper. However, this painting showed on the table a guinea pig, a popular Peruvian food, but one rarely eaten in Spain. Furthermore, the face of Judas is supposedly painted to look like one of the conquerors of Peru.

Moving on, we saw the heavy silver statue of Jesus which is moved out for parades, especially on Corpus Christy. It is so heavy (just the trellis weighs 370 bounds) that it has been placed on top of a car that can be driven in parades.

The next statue can be thought of as the most controversial. It is a black statue of Jesus Christ. To the locals of Cuzco, though, it is known as the God of Tremors because, during the 2005 earthquake here, the earthquake stopped as soon as the statue was removed from the cathedral. It has the largest group of loyal people of any deity in Cuzco, with between 30,000 and 40,000 people gathering expressly for him each time he is removed from the cathedral.

After this, we took a look at the Quire. The last thing we looked at in this wing was a final painting. The painter was told to paint camels, yet he had never seen one. Therefore, he was advised to use llamas as an example. Thus, rather than having camels, the painting has llamas.

The final thing we looked at was a chest stored in a room below the third wing that contains the ashes of a certain important Catholic chronicle. Thus ended our tour of Cuzco, and we said goodbye to Mario. Back at the hotel, we were supposed to go out to dinner at the restaurant of the friend of an employee of Winshuttle who stayed with Mamu and Mami while he was in Seattle, but Mama and Daddy had us stay at the hotel to allow Seona and me to fully recover. For dinner, I also had a Sopa de Verduras from Mandela’s.

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