Monday, September 26, 2022

Peru Day 5: Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Tambomachay, and Puka Pukara


Today we had a half-day Viator tour of Cusco. Here is our tour guide, José, talking about the great fitted stones here at our first stop: Saqsaywaman, marking that this was a sacred place, or huaca, for the Incas.

The entire Incan Empire was laid out in the shape of a puma with Saqsaywaman as the head and the Sun Temple as the eye.

Suchuna Hill, said to resemble a woman lying down, is the more natural part of the landscape here.

On the other side lies the ruins of the fortress with its great stone blocks.
In Quechua, Saqsaywaman means "satisfied" or "full" (saqsay) "falcon" (waman), perhaps due to the fortress walls resembling the outstretched wings of a falcon.

The impressive stone blocks are meticulously cut and fit together without any mortar.

The ruins of the Sun Temple, with the circular inner room there forming the eye of Saqsaywaman's puma head.

A great view up on top of the ruins.

We found one archway that's still standing.

Our next stop was Q'enqo, meaning labyrinth, another huaca or sacred place for the Incas.

Venturing down into the cavern.

This is where Incan ritual sacrifices and mummifications took place underground, close to Mother Earth.

We arrived next at Tambomachay.

A series of aqueducts and canals direct the natural springs to these fountains.

This was either used for religious purification, or as a royal spa, or both.

Possible ruins of a tower.

On our way out we saw this woman with these baby lambs so we gave her a few Soles to get some pictures with them.

So cute.

Puka Pukara, or the Red Fortress.

This site was likely a military fortress and waystation for messengers to stay during their journeys.

It also seems like a good location to serve as a checkpoint, to keep an eye on those traveling the roads.

We saw this large flock of sheep grazing across the hillside near where we parked.

For our last stop, José took us to the same place we visited on Saturday so we got to see the llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas again.

Here is their display of yarns with the different materials to make those dyes.

Our tour continued on to Qorikancha but unfortunately, our flight back home was previously changed from Tuesday morning to Monday afternoon and our half-day tour was running long so we had to leave the tour van early.

Fortunately the tour van drove right through central Cusco, right by our hotel, so we said our goodbyes and jumped out at a red light so we could collect our luggage and head off to the airport.

So we rushed to the Cusco airport to check in for our flight... and planes were grounded due to weather. At first we didn't know what was going on. The line at the check-in counter was at a standstill and they weren't taking any more passengers, so we were getting real worried, looking at the clock, and afraid we'd miss our flight. After a few hours we were able to fly to Lima, then catch our flight home the next morning. I wish we had finished our half-day tour in Cusco, but this was such a fun trip to Peru!

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Peru Day 4: Sunday in Cusco

A view of the lobby from our hotel room at Royal Inka II.

This tile mural takes up the entire back wall.

Having some breakfast downstairs before heading out.

Here's a street view of the hotel.

The Cusco Main Square (or Plaza Mayor de Cusco) was a short walk from the hotel.

We had some time before Church so we walked around the plaza and enjoyed some peace and quiet and nice weather.

Statue of Pachacuti, emperor of the Inca Empire.

A nice floral view with the Cusco Cathedral in the background (looking northeast).

The cathedral was not open for visitors when we stopped by, but here's a look from just outside.

A door just around the corner of the cathedral.

This tile carving was set above that door.

Looking south.

La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, on the southeast side of the plaza.

A view to the west.

We loved the cobblestone streets, the columns, and the balconies. It was like being in a city in Europe.

Check out these balconies.

On our way back from attending Church at the local branch.

We stopped off at a nice place for lunch. These were our desserts.

We tried to stop in on several churches around Cusco but none of them were open, which we thought was odd for a Sunday.

So we spent more time in the Main Square.

We found this gelato shop as we explored the city.

We also saw a lot of dogs: here's a group of strays.

And, back at the plaza, we found some sort of dog costume contest going on.

We also had some french crepes.

As we explored the city we found a crowd around a pair of performers.

These 2 guys were pulled out of the crowd to participate in the act.

Between every act, the 2nd guy (the voice of the group) worked the crowd for donations.

What we saw was fun to watch but most of it was spent getting the crowd to give enough money before they'd move on to the next act, so it was time for us to move on.

A vicuña statue.

A view of the Main Square from the roof of our hotel.

We ended our day with a  nice dinner.

The food was excellent.