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The Amazing New Adventures of Larry and Mark - Peru, Land of the Incas

Chapter 19


We are traveling  upstream along the Urubamba River floodplain.  The active

word here is flood, because that's what it did in December 2009, and will

be the topic of one of my later chapters.  Looks peaceful right now. 




The town of Ollantaytambo is our next destination.  It is at an altitude of about

 9,000 feet.  This is a statue of Pachacutec, one of the Inca kings, who also

was an architect who built many of the Inca towns and fortresses, including,

it is said, Ollantaytambo and Machu Pichu.  We will get more into Inca

history later.



One of Pachacutec's generals was Ollantay.  He was a very successful

leader of his soldiers, so he thought he would have a chance when he asked

Pachacutec to marry his daughter.  No luck.  He didn't get the daughter,

but eventually the town was named after him.  Ollantay  tambo (resting place.) 

It is a commentary on the Internet and unrecorded Inca history that there are at

least three differing explanations for the name of the town of Ollantaytambo. 


In the hills above the town are many Inca structures which were protected

and fortified granaries where food was stored.  The cold, thin air, so good

for drying mummies, was also good for storing grain and potatoes.



Another view of the granary shows (arrow) what appears to be a face in stone.

This is Peru's answer to New Hampshire's "Old Man of the Mountains."

This one is still here - not too hard when you consider there's no frost.



We were told that this is a natural formation, but some say that the Inca, who were obviously experts working with stone, helped to create this formation.   It is said to be the image of the Inca deity Viracocha, who was described as having blue eyes and a beard.  This is strange, considering the appearance of the Inca.  This would have made Spaniard Pizarro's entry into Peru especially striking.




 Here's the detail on one of the granary storage structures.  This was a culture

which believed in taking care of its food supply.



  Another view of the mountain man. 


Typical streets of the Ollantaytambo old town.  This is one of the wider streets. 

Remember - there were no wheeled vehicles.  You walked or took a llama.

Stone work on your average street was not the most precision.




But where they took the time, they did the joints to perfection!



When in Ollantaytambo, the steep hills, the perfectly cut rocks, many terraces that cover

the mountain sides - are astonishing. The Incas have built their structures around the mountain,

respecting its original shape.  Here is their main fortress, with the temple at the top. 



Here is a satellite view of the terraces.  It couldn't have been laid out an more accurately by

a modern architect.  Stone used for the construction was brought from a quarry high up on the

 opposite side of the Urubamba river - an incredible feat involving the efforts of thousands of

 workers. The complex was still under construction at the time of the conquest and was never

completed.   The Ollantaytambo Fortress is undoubtedly one of  the greatest examples of

advanced Inca architecture.


By the time we got to the site, it was late afternoon, and the light was starting to fail.  I chose

to be part of the group which went on to the hotel.  But half our group went up the terraces and

made it to our hotel in the dark. 




 Making our way to the hotel, we could see more Inca street construction which was

designed to effectively control water flow.  Hasn't changed in 500 years.  My street's

 surface is only 15 years old and doesn't look this good.



Opuntia, also known as paddle cactus, grows along the stone walls with

its prickly-pear fruit. 






Ollantaytambo was the last place where the Incas fought the Spaniards.  From

 here, the remaining Incas fell back into the mountains and forest, cut all of the

 rope bridges, and burned Machu Picchu so it wouldn't be found.  Pachacutec

would probably still feel very much at home if he came back here now.   



Next:  a home in "Ollanta" old town coming soon!


Larry Reich


You may reach me with comments:

Laurence Reich 


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