Peru XIII-An Adventure in the Land of the Incas                  Cusco History    

March 6, 2018

Back in Cusco, again, after our adventures in the Manu National Park, we had the night and most of the next day, Thursday, October 19 to rest. We dropped off our dirty laundry at the front desk and knew from our past days at the hotel that it would be ready for us the next day. This was now getting toward the end of our discoveries in Peru but still much more awaited us both in and around the city of Cusco and then several hours out into the mountains for the most incredible trek and discovery of our entire visit in Peru.


The weather was cooler the next several days and with many unplanned hours early in the day, we explored a bit. buying a small suitcase so that we could pack all of the “extras” we had acquired on our travels. Some of our clothes we donated to our guide Wilbur, one a favorite thick sweater of mine. Well no real remorse, because I convinced myself to buy an Alpaca Wool sweater in its’ stead (so much for trying to conserve space and pack less!). In the end, we managed to pack all that we had and filled the new suitcase to the max too.

Our afternoon was planned for us with tours of several Inca sites in the city and up in the surrounding hills. Our first stop was the main square, where we had already spent many hours in our previous stay in Cusco. But included was a tour of the Cusco Cathedral whose construction began in 1559, a little more than 100 years after the Spanish first arrived in South America. Our tour was fascinating as we learned more about the history, the furnishings, paintings and construction of this huge church. 

IMG 4447.jpgIMG 1354.jpg

As we had already spent several days in the city, we walked narrow streets along massive Inca walls which are the foundations of this former Inca capitol. On the tour we were introduced to probably the most impressive Inca temple, Koricancha, known as the Temple of the Sun. We learned how the Inca architects built walls and buildings that were earthquake proof, which is a reason why so much of the tightly fitted stonework still stands strong. These were a people, as with many native cultures in this Western Hemisphere, at least from my limited knowledge base, who were well attuned to the Earth and the heavens and had learned from and taught themselves to live in harmony within this universe. 


At the end of this story I will also reveal something very interesting that these Inca builders managed to incorporate within many of these remarkable stone structures.

IMG 4463.jpg

Before I get too far ahead of myself, please turn your attention back to the above mentioned Temple of the Sun. Part of this temple was incorporated in the Santo Domingo Church but the original Inca structure’s walls were lined in GOLD and its courtyard was decorated with statues and ornament of GOLD! If you remember from a previous story here, the Incas did not have a form of currency and so, I would image, the gold did not hold the same value as it did to the invaders who overtook the native peoples. Can you imagine the Spaniards first impressions upon seeing these temples with all that gleaming gold? This was true of other native Indian civilizations throughout Central and South America, where cities were nearly encased in gold. The Inca, at first believing these bearded, light skinned people were gods, surely found out quite quickly that they were anything but gods, or godly.

IMG 4465.jpg

Before leaving the temple and Santo Domingo Church, the heavens let loose a cold downpour that had us shivering and huddling under what shelter we could find as we awaited buses to take us up into the surrounding hills to visit an important Inca ruins. Winding back and forth up narrow streets we arrived at the fortress of Sacsayhuaman (for us gringos, they jokingly refer to this place as being said like “sexy woman”. Take a gander back at the word 

and you’ll see it is an accurate pronunciation). Incredible layered stone buildings remained of this once mighty fortress. The engineering required to move, shape and place the huge blocks boogles the mind.

By the time we reached Sacsayhuaman, the rain had ceased, thankfully, and our guide led us about the site where we learned more about the place. From high in the hills we were also able to enjoy views 

IMG 4466.jpg

overlooking Cusco. It appeared that every tour company chose the same time to carry their visitors to all the sites late that afternoon. In the tangle of countless buses and the hoards of people it was easy to lose which tour bus was carrying your group. Our guide, along with all the many others, were hustling their groups, hurrying far too much for my liking and which did not make for a particularly enjoyable tour of what were some fantastic places. This was nearly the only part of our trip that was more disappointing than it should have been. I would take a private tour earlier in the day if I had it to over again.

With the sun setting and the chill of evening decending up us, our bus wound its way back down the same narrow streets where we were released near our hotel. After dinner near our drop off point, we returned to the hotel where the beds were beckoning us to an early slumber.

The next day would start early as we were soon to depart on the most adventurous trek of our entire journey in this Land of the Incas.

And here is the rest of this story.

The Inca were, as I said earlier, very attuned to Nature. In that, they honored all living creatures, including animals, reptiles and birds, for example, in their religious ceremonies and views of the connections between all living things. 

During our tour through the narrow streets of Cusco we learned that the Inca architects often incorporated designs of animals in the stone walls and that we might discover examples of such embedded in walls along the narrow streets near our hotel. Curiosity being what it is, we set out one afternoon to search for the cleverly hidden forms of some of those creatures honored by the Inca. 

It was no easy task.

We searched. We studied many of the old walls trying to visualize the shape of an animal. It became apparent in watching other tourists that they too were on the same hunt. Eventually we narrowed it down to a block and then down to a street, but our eyes could not see any semblance of fauna or fowl. Then as I was about to ask a shop owner the whereabouts of these elusive figures, right there was a poster showing the outline of two creatures on the wall behind us.

Aha! So we were hot. Somewhere in those huge stone blocks we could find the disguised images. After standing back and further studying the wall, the shapes finally became apparent. One is the image of a puma, the other a crocodile.

Take a look at these photos. I outlined the images after taking the photos so that anyone can see what those clever ancient builders had created. Once again, it seems we often underestimate the ingenuity and skill these supposedly uncivilized people possessed. To me, the ancient Inca people had to have been genius, possibly a bit mischievous and had some fun in what they created for their people.

IMG_4668 2

See if you can find a PUMA in this stonework.


A-Ha! And there is a prowling puma!

IMG_4670 2

There is a crocodile lurking in that wall.


The cleverly concealed crocodile is revealed!


The poster that simplified our stonework safari

u © Donald E. Kline 2012