Peru, Day 10 – Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu – what more can I say. The Inca honouring Pachamama – Mother Earth. The first sight, coming through the Sun Gate, is awe inspiring. It was everything I came for, and more. The train to get to the village, we travelled first class. The long and winding bus road to get to the site, the Machu Picchu village with excellent craft beer, our fabulous and knowledgeable guide and our 4 star hotel with massage made for an etched memory.

A lot happened today so this will be a long post. I tried to capture as much of the experience as I could.

Early morning walk to check out the hotel before we leave for Machu Picchu.

We had first class tickets on the train to Machu Picchu. Yes, the 4 day hike on the Inca Trail would have been more eventful, but at my age, this was perfect.

Our happy group. Over the last two weeks we had all become friends and very comfortable with each other. They were all good people with no issues or problems, all enjoying the experience of a lifetime.

Coca tea and brownie – breakfast of champions.

This is the start of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It is a 4 day hike that takes the trekker past other archeological sites.

On the train to Machu Picchu. The seat was empty at the front of the train. The conductor let me sit there.

This is still the high plateau. As it enters the Andean forest the scenery changes from the scrub to the lush greenery.

The Urbumba River. This boisterous flowing water was right next to my hotel room.

Debarked from the train and ready to board the bus to the top. It is very organized. People line up for the buses. Staff are on hand to direct the line, send off the full buses and bring up the empty ones. Our guide let the staffer know we were in a group so he waited until we got an empty bus.

Our first sight of Machu Picchu – 2,400 metres above sea level. The mountain peak is named Machu Picchu. The Incas referred to this place as Patallaqta – Town Steps.

Jack, the 93 year old, and his daughter Anne. Jack had a bit of a setback but was raring to go for Machu Picchu. He walked to the next section for a group photo then went and waited in a courtyard – mission accomplished.

Our guide, Sergio, to us to a good spot for photos. The Incas were great at irrigation and drainage. The drainage system is largely the reason why the Machu Picchu Sanctuary still exists today.

Whenever they could, they built on top of natural outcropping of stone. Here is an great example. In this way they honoured what Mother Earth gave to them.

The lintel over the doorway. The Incas had two two archetectural designs – religious and functional. The religious was meticulous and stones were evenly yet specifically carved and placed.

Incas were eager to create flat areas to emphasize openness. There would be plazas, squares to balance the altitudes of the mountains.

Our guide was making comparisons of Inca culture to Canada by using Toronto versus Mississauga. How the relationship between Machu Picchu, as an administrative centre, and another city would work.

The Llamas and Alpacas are domesticated. 9 of them were dropped off for a photo shoot and they have been grazing and growing since. They go to a pen each night. This was an amphitheatre where enactments of royal nobility accomplishments were performed. The background allows for voice projection.

The thatched roof was made elaborately. There would have been macaw feathers at the top. There is an underground, geological stream, created by a fault. that provides water to the entire site.

A coca plant. Not usual for this altitude but the Incas did try to grow it at Machu Picchu.

It started to rain. Sergio, our guide, put on his Canadian poncho.

The Temple of the 3 Windows. The 3 windows symbolized the hierarchy of the Incas and the conquered people. The Incas entered the world through the middle window, they were the chosen. Everyone else came through the other two side windows. These type of structures were only created after 1450 – after the conquered people.

The Incas constructed their walls leaning in. You can see this with the right wall. This helped to resist earthquake tremors. The bulging of the stones outward was an aesthetic consideration of the Incas.

When building, the Inca rulers brought people from all over their conquered territory to work. If a tribe was good and carving, then the best carvers would be brought to Machu Picchu.

In every Inca religious spot, there is always a higher spot in the plaza so the voice can project the announcements. The mountain in the background is Huayna Picchu. It was believed each morning, the high priest would walk up the mountain to celebrate the new day. The Temple of the Moon is located on the side of the mountain. Today, people can arrange to climb to the top to view Machu Picchu.

In the centre of this wall edge is an unfinished block. It was deliberately positioned like this so that the wall could be expanded at some point using the extended brick as a base.

Another example of building on top of a natural outcropping of the mountain.

Llama bones have been found in this area – called the Condor Temple as an indication of sacrifices being made.

When they were carving, they would leave channels as indicators for the next carver on what was to be done. This was in case the carver was reassigned or had an accident. The next carver would know were to begin and finish.

The top building with the open window was where the sundial was. It is closed to the public right now. The dial would display shadows. However it was also the seat of justice where commoners petitioned the king for a ruling. The sun gives him the power as a child of the sun.

In addition to being a sanctuary city, this was also and agricultural centre. They grew chili peppers, potatoes, corn, tomato and coca leaves.

Notice the etched, reconstructed lintel above the guinea pig farm.

Thousands for guinea pig bones were found in this enclosure indicating it was the farming area for the little guys.

Our 4 star hotel, SUMAQ, included an complimentary massage – much sorely needed after hiking around Machu Picchu.

After the massage, headed into town. There were about 5 places listed that were offering craft beer.

I went with Mapacho Craft Beer because they’d been around the longest. The bartender was a good conversationalist, telling me a bit of history of the pub and the area.

Looking up to the Manchu Picchu village.

An artist reflecting on the 2 headed nature of the indigenous people.

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