Well, we had a choice – a one hour flight to Cusco or a 20 hour drive. Actually we had no choice as it was made for us by Odysseys Unlimited, but we did not disagree. So 4:30 wake up call to leave early to avoid the rush hour traffic for the 10 million people that live in Lima. We were actually not in Cusco for very long as it is 11,200 feet and they want to acclimate us to the altitude. So we got off the plane and got on a bus to the Sacred Valley (which is at 9,000 feet).
Well actually first we had to go up a bit more. As we left the city we stopped to take a picture (we are coming back in a few days). There was an enterprising young lady with an alpaca at the stop that would let you take a picture for a $1. We made a stop at 12,142 feet at Saqsaywaman to begin our education on the Incas. The sections were first built by the Killke culture about 1100 and were expanded and added to by the Inca from the 13th century. It served as a religious center. How it was built with no animals, no wheels and no written language still amazes people today. The walls are made from limestone that came from quarries a few miles away. The workers carefully cut the boulders to fit them together tightly without mortar and no metal tools have ever been found. The 5th picture shows how tight they fit together and these rocks weighed thousands of pounds and were 16 – 20 feet high.
The 6th picture shows an alpaca that was looking over the edge of a drop off when we stopped for lunch. Leslie is trying to figure out how to bring one home. After lunch (which was a light buffet because you are not supposed to eat a lot when you first go to a high altitude), we took a windy drive down to Pisac. On the way we stopped for a picturesque view of a valley. The last 5 pictures are of Pisac. The next to the last picture shows agricultural terraces that were made by the Incas. Pisac is famous for its market. The market had colorful textiles and all kinds of wonderful things to look at. Leslie had to hold off on buying textiles because the guide told us that tomorrow we are going to go to a place where they make all the textiles by hand with 100% baby alpaca.
Don was finally able to get a picture of a Torito de Pucara (the picture of the bulls on the roof top). They are placed on the roof of houses in the year they are built for good luck, fertility (of crops and livestock) and to bring prosperity. We had seen them all over, but always from a moving bus. The Incan tradition started with llamas, but was changed to bulls when the Spanish conquered the Incas. The cross and ladder were added as Christianity grew in the area.