Peru – Day 2, Pachacamac & the Temple of the Sun

Today was a long drive south with the ocean on one side and desert on the other. It was a comfortable and spacious bus with large, viewing windows. I chose a seat at the back on the ocean side.

Because of the drive time we only had 1 activity – the archeological site of Pachacamac and the Inca Temple of the Sun.

We then went to Paracas, checked into our gorgeous hotel, La Hacienda Bahia.  A swim in the pool, pisco mule in the bar, dinner and crashed out at 9.

While driving out of the city I began to notice a frequent number of dogs roaming the streets. They would become a regular sight whenever we were in an urban environment. At one point I was out for an early walk in Cuzco. A whole pack came up the street – about a dozen dogs – walking right past me. More on that later.

As we headed south to Pachacamac, the skyline of Lima in the background. Along the coast were gated communities with expensive looking homes. Either vacation, retirement homes. However they are on the major highway so possibly commuters.

Our Peruvian tour guide pointed out this building and told us a little story as we passed. Legend has it that a Dominican priest was left waiting on the bridge (in the centre}. He got tired of waiting and jumped in the water. Didn’t catch what he was waiting for. On the weekends, someone dresses up in Dominican attire and jumps in the water for tips. The waves really come crashing in against the rock. I wouldn’t want to jump in.

I really got the full sense of the desert/ocean divide on the drive. Turning my head left to see the sand – right to watch the waves. The green area is a polo field.

The entrance to the Pachacamac site. Again the juxtaposition of the desert with flower sellers. However, there is the Lurin river next to the site which was their water source. The Lurin also explains the ability to have a polo field.

The Pachacamac museum showing photos of the site at night. Named after Pacha Kamaq – the Earth Mover. He was incorporated into the Inca pantheon when they took over the culture that was living in this area. I thought this was cool as the Incas did not try to replace the people’s religion. Of course, if helps to have a god named Earth Mover.

In the 19th Century, when archeology was on the rise, Peru did not have any archeologists studying their ruins. German Max Uhle did a lot of the excavations in the 1890s and completed this map of the entire site.

The dry desert allows for mummification of the dead. The body was formed into a fetal position, wrapped and then dressed. The belief is that we came into the world in fetal so we need to leave that way. In order to see where you were going, they placed a mask on the mummy along with white stone “eyes”. Relatives would come and change the cloak when it got weathered.

The Idol of Pachacamac, found in the Painted Temple in 1938. Pachacamac was thought to be the generator of earthquakes – thus the name Earth Mover.

The Mamacona. This building was built for the women dedicated to the cult of the sun. The bottom pool was used for cleansing. They would enter the door in the centre and follow the halls laid out for a purification.

I don’t know why but decided to wear my Maude Lewis “Cats” t-shirt. Maybe to honor the Earth Mover god (cats being known for the moving ability).

.A ramp for making offerings to the gods. The temple on top was destroyed by Hernandez Pizzaro – brother of Francisco. All the offerings were rotten and decaying. He couldn’t stand the smell so ordered it destroyed.

It starts out wide for the people but narrows as only the priest was allowed up there. The architecture representing the status.

A street running north south was near the offering ramp. People came from all over Peru to visit Pachacamac. It was incorporated into the Inca Trail that allowed rulers to communicate with outlying districts. This made Pachacamac a trading center.

Runners would carry fresh fish from the ocean up to the Inca headquarters.

The excavations are still going on but with Peruvian archeologists now. There is a Pachacamac society that handles the site.

There is also restoration. A wall that was once located here is being restored with replicated bricks.

The Inca Temple of the Sun. They took over around 1470. Viracocha was the Inca’s sun god. Whatever city they conquered, they built a Temple of the Sun. Our tour was to climb to the top and walk around the outside of the temple.

The walk is about 1.5 K from the parking lot going uphill. Looking back on some of my tour group. There is one gentleman, Jack, who is here with his daughter. Jack is 93 – WOW. Jack had some great stories at the dinner table. He was quiet spoken so best to sit next to him, which everyone wanted to do.

A pano shot looking into the valley. The ocean on the right, the polo field to the left of the temple.

Walking around the far side of the temple we came to the lookout. The legend of the two rocks in the ocean – A beautiful princess was approached by many gods but she rejected them. One of them put his semen into a fruit and dropped it near a tree where she was weaving. She ate it, got pregnant and had a child. The god pursued her but she ran into the sea with her child and changed into the rocks.

To give a sense of size of the city at the time, the road in the back, with the line of cars, was where the walls were located. In the center, the series of stone squares was where the market was. Connected to the Inca Trail, people came from all over the empire to trade.

It was only our second day but our group had a good sense of each other. Jim, on my right, and I were the jokers. Many of them were retired teachers so the conversations were quite stimulating. And, as you will see, everyone was up for a group photo. Jack is in the back with the yellow hat.

Our lunch stop was about an hour and a half south of Pachacamac on the way to Paracas. Apparently El Piloto is famous for quality food. I wondered when the bus pulled into the parking lot with desert all around. The interior was open, airy and welcoming.

Our tour manager, Natalia, had an organized system for handling food order. She would give us sheets to fill out that contained a selection of items we could order – appetizer, main and desert. She would fax them to the restaurant so they were all prepared when we arrived. It is quite efficient as it gets us out early and takes the burden off of the kitchen staff. For some reason, in the beginning I did not record what I had ordered.

Our hotel, La Hacienda Bahia Paracas, is outside the Paracas city limits – which we drove through. It is close to the nature preserve. In this way, they had a lot of land to work with. Instead of a tall, single building, it is only 3 stories but spread out.

There is the main pool, a heated pool, jacuzzi and then the beach. They have a private dock with kayak rentals. Plan to take one out tomorrow afternoon. I went for a leisurely paddle in the pool to ease all the walking at the temple. My room was on the other side. A couple of our group had rooms pool side. The pool came right up to their door.

After a day of exploring the ruins in the desert, a cold beer and watching the sunset.

A few of us met in the bar before dinner. La Hacienda Bahia Paracas bar. The specialty is a Pisco Mule served in a copper tankard. Instead of egg white, ginger beer is added. As ginger settles the stomach, it was suggested this would be a good drink before taking the small, twisting plane over the Nazca lines. The dinner was, I’m sure, fabulous, but don’t remember what it was.

I know I did sleep deeply and awoke fresh the next morning to fly the Nazca Lines.

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