Once we made it across the border from Chile to Peru, the change in the way things are done was dramatic. When we went to board the bus, they had us put our luggage on a cart. Then some other people put their luggage on the cart. Their luggage happened to be a lamb.
Our first stop in Peru was Cusco, land of the Incas. For the next couple days, we explored the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machupicchu. This is a picture of the agriculture terraces of the Incan village of Pisac. They used these as a laboratory, with each level having a different temperature and climate. They could slowly get plants to grow at higher altitudes or with different amounts of water. Really interesting stuff for those of you who are nerdy science people like me.
The main church in Cusco was built on the base of Incan ruins. A lovely church outside. Can't tell you about the inside because they charge the astronomical sum of $10 to go in. Seriously, $10 to see a church? Ludicrous. I might write the pope to complain.
The Incans used two types of stone work. This is the more famous, sometimes called Imperial. It is crazy. As our guide said, they had three tools: a bronze chisel, a hammer, and patience. They slowly hammered pieces to exactly fit one another. No concrete or anything else between the stones.
Even before the Incas, the native people had amazing building skills. In Ollaytaytambo (try saying that three times fast--or even once), the pre-Incas spent 200 years building the sun temple, which still wasn't done when the Incas conquered them in the 1400s. They dragged these 60 ton stones about 8 miles over a couple of mountains before polishing them to exactly fit each other. Oh, and those small stones inbetween the big ones are spacers for earthquakes. So, 800 years ago these people built earthquake proof buildings. Only took us about 750 years to catch up.
Most everyone of Incan descent puts a little topper on their house for good luck. Most of them relate to agriculture, like these cute bulls.
We met our friend Sabrina in Cusco. Sabrina is the only friend good enough to take us up on our offer of meeting us on our travels. Here are the three of us. It was good to travel with someone else. Not that I ever get sick of Tara, but it is always nice to talk to someone else.
In Machupicchu, they have llamas. Cheaper than lawnmowers. Here are some through the ruins.
This was sunrise in the Temple of the Sun at Machupicchu. You have to arrive early, climb to the temple, and then sneak over the gates that say do not enter when the guards aren't looking to get this picture. On the solstices, the sun rises through the two windows. Because we are between them, it rises between the windows.
Here you can see how people lived. These are mostly houses, which would have had thatched leaf roofs. They are divided into chambers that would have certainly been close quarters, but you can't beat the views.
We learned that Incan architecture is easy to identify because they build trapezoid windows. This window had a particularly good view of Tara out it.
This is the main square of Macchupicchu. Only residents of the city generally would have been allowed here (no visitors). The buildings in the back are partly houses and partly the school. Everything is built on terraces on the mountain. It rains for about 6 months of the year, so everything stays very green. It also means that the terraces help stop the massive erosion.
This is a view of Machupicchu from Wayanupicchu, the mountain that towers over it. It gives you a sense of the mountain that these people climbed to get home everyday. Incas were in much better shape than Americans.
Here we are with Machupicchu city and Wayanpicchu Mountain in the back. I climbed Wayanpicchu, but Tara and Sabrina made the (probably wise) decision to do something less strenuous. Between that and hiking up the mountain to Machupicchu and down again, we were all exhausted by the end of the day.
That concludes our Machupicchu fun. We have lots more pictures, but I didn't want to bore you and our Internet time is coming to an end. Machupicchu was very heavy on the tourists and is about 10 times more expensive than anywhere else in Peru, but was definitely worth it. We did not hike the Inca trail (which is incredibly expensive and doesn't seem all that interesting), but we did plenty of hiking in the area.