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

Chapter 9

On to Qenqo and Salapunco

It's a little after noon, and we got back in our bus after Puca Pucara.  A short way

down the road, the bus turned off into a treed clearing with what look like

young eucalyptus trees.  Eucalyptus is not a native tree, and it is very 

invasive.  Notice most of these trees are the same.  Chemicals in the tree or

the shed bark discourage the growth of other species of tree.  Anyway, we

pulled into this grove, and the driver and assistant started setting up dinner

tables for us.



Very shortly we had guests.  They didn't seem unfriendly, just hungry.

But they didn't look like you'd want to pet them. 




After an excellent meal, we split into two groups.  Some of the group went back

on the bus to our next site, and the rest of us chose to walk.  We were given a

dose of our favorite stimulant - coca leaves - from Rick.  Coca leaves taste a

lot like herbal tea.  You are supposed to chew them and then keep them in the

cheek - like chewing tobacco.   I never felt anything "stimulating" about it, but

then again, I was still walking at 12-13,000 feet. 




 We took an old path through the woods, passing small fields and grazing

areas for  llamas. 





In our passage through the woods, we found three separate sites of ancient construction. 

The one below is just sitting there untouched.  There are just so many places to study

 and excavate, and so few people doing it. 


Our guide pointed out a new site being worked on now, and he went over

and asked if we could take a look at it, but his request was denied.



A little further down, we could see a piece of the Inca Trail which passed through the area.

Unlike the old Roman roads built for carts and chariots, the Incas had no wheels, so the

trails were designed for human and llama feet.  All the roads and city streets were 

well planned, with proper drainage to allow for control of rain.



Which makes me wonder what this ditch was for - surely not a path.  I expect it is for control

 of heavy rains.  But when the biggest rains come, there is no control over what happens. 

See my later chapter on the recent flood.  This hill overlooks the city of Cusco .



 We walked down a hill, past a tree with figures in it, placed there to bring good luck.




We enter into Qenqo.  This is a large temple area above Cusco.   


 The name was given by the Spaniards.   "Qenqo" in Quechua means "zigzag" or "labyrinth." 

This is due to the zigzag carved stone canal, which I wished we had seen (but missed.) 

Here is the only photo of it I have found online.   It is felt that this carved trench was meant for

the passage of sacrificial blood - human or animal, or chicha - the national fermented corn

beverage - popular to this day.


This huge stone block 20 feet high may once have been a carved puma.  It has been documented

that the Spaniards, along with Catholic missionaries, disliked idolatry, and destroyed many stone

carvings and images.  They were not able to destroy this one, but  did major damage to it.





When the Spaniards arrived in the area in the 1500's, they began to categorize Incan construction by

European standards.  They called this area an amphitheater, due to its circular construction, although nobody knows what it was really meant for.  The niches in the walls may have been for seated nobility,

or for astronomers, or for idols. We were NOT allowed to sit in them for photographs! 



We entered a cave, and we are at the Incan site Salapunco.  While it is not

certain since there are no written records, it is believed that this site may have been

used for ritual sacrifice, or embalming nobility.  Even in the middle of the warmest part

of the year, this slab is cold.




Here is another view from the other end.  This subterranean room holds a lot of secrets.



 Helen Blazis, who is making an extensive video of this trip, can be seen checking

out one of the deep recesses which was used as a repository for mummies.





More soon!


Larry Reich


You may reach me with comments:

Laurence Reich 


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