Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sacred Valley Superlatives

People come to the Sacred Valley of the Incas for one reason...Ruins. They are old. They are stony. They are big. And I admit they are pretty impressive. You would probably be ruined-out and incredibly bored if I wrote a post about every ruĂ­na that we visited in the Sacred Valley. So, I'll just hit the highlights: Senior Superlative style.

Most likely to be late to graduation - Ollantaytambo
Sprawling ruins, with lots of projects (temples, terraces, homes, baths, crop silos) left undone. Just a little late on the start, these ruins were abandoned in limbo with the invasion of the Spanish. It is also one of the most interesting places to see the building ramps and stone cuttings were hastily left as they were.

Stone that looks like it was cut...but by what? The Incas had no knowledge of steel, and other metals would have been too soft. Curious, but how else would they obtain such stony perfection.

Impressive stonework at Ollantaytambo.

From valle sagrada erin

Most likely to be a supermodel - Saqsaywaman
Hands down the sexiest stonework, with walls of stone that fit together a little too perfectly. Built as a defense fortress above Cusco, the walls are big and wide, but the stones fit so tightly there is not enough space to fit a knife blade between the rocks. It is hard to imagine that anyone, especially someone 700 years ago, was able to move (stones up to 80 tons) or fit the stones with such precision. And, with a name like "sexy woman", it's fate is already decided.

Andrew posing by one of the largest stones at Saqsaywaman, over 80 tons, and a little taller than an average height human.
From valle sagrada erin

More stonework.
From valle sagrada erin

Most likely to succeed - Machu Picchu

Not only does he wear suits and ties to school, he already has an internship with an investment banking firm set up after graduation. Damn him! The ruins of Machu Picchu aren't quite as beautiful or well-built as some of the others in the Sacred Valley, but they are well publicized with incredible financial backing. The ruins of Machu Picchu are on an unbeatable, mystical mountaintop location, and destined to succeed (at least from a touristy point of view). You can definitely see the price of popularity at these ruins, as thousands of people visit daily and the wear and tear and crowds are inevitable.

Machu Picchu showing through the clouds from the top of Wayna Picchu

Most eccentric - Moray
...or at least concentric. This area of circles was built as a type of crop laboratory. Each circular terrace (supposedly) represents a unique micro-climate. Experiments with different types of potatoes and corn and other crops were performed to see what grows best where. It also catches every aspect of the sun during the day. Hippies from around the world travel here to soak in the magical healing powers Moray is said to have. I can't say I felt anything magical, but maybe that is because I am a square.

Moray...all circular and stuff.

From valle sagrada erin

Descending flagstone steps in the side of the terraces. Real steps were thought to weaken the terraces.
From valle sagrada erin

Most likely to be high at graduation - Pisac

It's high, man. And when you start exploring, there is way more than meets the eye...layers and layers back into the mountains. Fortresses were built facing every direction, a little paranoid of possible attacks. On the hillsides a type of fear-reducing tea was cultivated and used by workers that had to toil on steep, exposed terraces to help them calm the fuck down. Pisac didn't make me want to eat a family size package of Kraft macaroni and cheese and a giant bag of Rolos at 3 o'clock in the morning, but it did blow my mind a little bit.

In front of the temples at Pisac.
From valle sagrada erin

Climbing up to the fortresses.
From valle sagrada erin

View of the Valley from the trail to Pisac.
From valle sagrada erin

1 comment:

  1. Andrew, your beard is looking epic. Hope you're having a wonderful time.