Archive for August, 2007

Visiting a local Family

Friday August 31: The last two days have been special for us as Vicky, a tour guide that we met at the iPeru tourist office, took us to her homes. Thursday she took us to her simple country house near Otuzco. It is under the care of her Aunt and Uncle who farm the small plot of land. Vicky hopes to expand it into a small “bread and breakfast” as time and money permit. Her aunt fixed us a nice lunch of potatoes, tuna salad and lima beans, while Vicky showed us around. Then we all enjoyed visiting while we ate. After lunch Vicky took us to visit the flower growing area of Huerta de las Hortencias. There lilies and hydrangeas are grown for sale. We walked from there thru the Hacienda Tres Molinos (a milk farm) and on to a cheese factory (Los Alpes). There was no ice-cream at this cheese factory, but we did purchase some great cheese and enjoyed rich creamy yogurt drinks before continuing the trek back into town.

This morning (Friday) Vicky came by the hotel again and took us to visit her family at her “in town” home. We enjoyed breakfast with her extended family while we visited. We met several of her sisters, one of her brothers and his family as well as Vicky’s 8-year old daughter. Several pleasant hours were spent visiting before Bill and I left. Thank You Vicky !!

We walked back to the hotel to relax the rest of the day (and play on the Internet), as tomorrow we move on to Chiclayo on our way slowly back to Ecuador and our Lanikai.

Pre-Inca & Inca Sites near Cajamarca

Wednesday August 29: In the last two days we have explored the pre-Inca burial site of Ventanillas de Otuzco, the site of Los Baños del Inca, the small town of Llacanora and the pre-Inca site of Cumbe Mayo.

We took a taxi to see the Ventanillas, which are niches carved into a rock face where the bones of the deceased wealthy were placed along with clay grave offerings. The hillside here is covered with these little niches, which are too small for an entire body; the bodies were buried in the ground for several years then the bones were transferred to a niche along with the grave offerings.

From Otuzco we walked to Los Baños del Inca. It is a hot springs area with many tubs and pools for soaking, the mineral water emerges from underground at about 160 degrees Fahrenheit (72 degrees C). It is here that the last Inca ruler, Atahuapla was resting with his large army when the Spaniards (Pizarro and about 160 men, some horses and a few canon) arrived in Cajamarca. The hot springs was a resort in pre-Inca times and it still is today with many locals visiting the site for the hot water pools.

We continued from Los Baños along a country dirt road to Llacanora where we caught a combi back into Cajamarca. The dirt road follows a small river with lush, green farms in the valley below and steep cliffs on the other side of the road.

Thursday we took a tour to Cumbe Mayo which has three interesting features. The first is the interesting natural rock formations, some look like castle walls and others like marching monks. The second feature is the extensive pre-Inca canal structure carved into the rocks in places and built with rocks in others. Water still flows in the channels although being toward the end of the dry season right now there was not much. The third feature is the many petroglyphs carved into the rocks. They are most visible where the carvings are hidden from the weather under rock overhangs. This trip took all day and we returned to Cajamarca quite tired after our second day of much hiking.

Cajamarca, Peru

Sunday August 2, we flew from Cuzco to Lima and on to the city of Cajamarca. Monday we started our exploration of Cajamarca at the Belén complex where the office of tourism is located. The complex itself is quite interesting. There is a church at its center with a large patio. Off one side of the church is a 17th century hospital for men and on the opposite side is a similar structure for woman. The hospital wings are long buildings with bed niches along both side walls for the patients. Both now house museums, one with modern art and the other archeology.

We then visited the “Cuarto del Rescate” which was supposedly the room filled once with gold and twice with silver as ransom paid to the Spanish for the release last Inca ruler, Atahualpa, who was captured and held prisoner in Cajamarca by Pizarro. Pizarro collected the riches, melted them into bars to ship to Spain and then killed Atahualpa anyway, thus ending the Inca Empire.

At 3:00 in the afternoon several of the local churches opened. We visited Iglesia San Francisco and its cloisters and catacombs. The cloisters contain religious and secular artifacts as well as early religious paintings. We also visited Iglesia de los Monjas which is near our hotel. It’s interior is much simpler and more modern looking than the highly carved and decorated baroque of many of the early churches.

Inca Sites near Cuzco, Peru

Tuesday 20 August, we took a local bus to an Inca site about 5 miles from Cuzco. This site of Tambo Machay was called the “Inca Baths” because there are several fountains with pools of water at their base. Across the main road from this first site is another site of Inca ruins, Puca Pucura. This site has a high central plaza and the remains of buildings on the terraces just below. It was probably a resting place on this Inca road leading from Cuzco. After visiting this site and taking some photos of the Inca terraces that line the sides of the valley, we continued walking toward Cuzco. We had plans to visit two more sites along the way but ended up making an early turn off the main road, directly to Sacsayhuamán, so we missed the site of Qenko.

Sacsayhuamán is a ruin site that borders Cuzco in the heights above the modern city. This site is composed of a large parade ground , or plaza, bordered by a zigzag, three-terraced Inca wall on one side and terraces on the other. Above the zigzag wall are the remains of several structures, including a circular one that was probably a temple to the sun. After exploring above the zigzag wall, we returned to the plaza and then climbed up on the terraced side to view the large natural rock that seemed to be scared by glaciers in the distant past. This large rock has several Inca shrines carved into it. While sitting up there, a modern Inca gentleman (his native language is Quechua, although Spanish is a close second) joined us and described his feelings about the site as well as other nearby mountain ruin sites. Before continuing the short distance back into Cuzco, we climbed up to the hilltop with the modern 11-meter-tall Christ statue that overlooks the city of Cuzco. Then we made the steep descent to the city plaza, along paths and stairs that have pre-Colonial origins.

On a small plaza of San Francisco de Borja, just above the main plaza, boys were constructing bamboo fireworks towers. They said that they would be setting them off about 9PM. We watched the construction for awhile before heading down for dinner. We returned to the hotel room to dress warmly and returned to the fireworks plaza. We found a nice bench and watched the finishing-up of the tower constructions. About 8PM, a band, followed by a group of people, filed into the plaza. Tubs of drink and food were brought in as well. When the group got settled, a hot sweet rice and milk drink was served to all. Bill and I enjoyed it. Then food of chicken and boiled potatoes was passed out. It smelled delicious but since Bill and I had just finished eating a big dinner, we declined the food. Then, after everyone finished eating, another hot drink was served, probably Chicha Morada (a non-alcoholic local drink made from corn). Bill and I again enjoyed the hot drink!! After everyone was fed (including the band), the fireworks display started. The first to be exploded were large rockets that exploded in big bursts of color overhead. These were followed by figures held by hand on long bamboo poles, some even shot pinwheels of color up into the air. Finally the fireworks on the 7 large bamboo towers were lit, one at a time. Many of the towers had spinners that spun off into the night, bursting into great flowers of color. It was all quite spectacular and was done in honor of the Virgin of the Asunta. Bill and I did not get back to the hotel until after 11pm, surprising the hotel staff at our late return.

More “Sacred Valley” sites – Peru pictures, part 13

Three more sites in the Sacred Valley


Moray, where circular terraces in bowls were probably used for experimental crop development.


Bill climbs down the Inca steps built into the terrace walls.


Salinas: salt drying ponds still in use today.


Chinchero ruins, where we had the site almost to ourselves. This shows the foundations of buildings on one of the terraces.


The old church at Chinchero was built on Inca ruins. It is painted with lots of Inca and Christian designs both inside and on its front entrance.