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HOMper to HOMper_and

Impressions of Andean Perú

When thinking of Perú our mind usually goes to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and the Inkas. Well, it's indeed all present in this report on the Andean regions of the country. Of course, Machu Picchu is a fabulous experience to live and an unbelievably overwhelming site, for its size, for the sophistication of the society it reflects, for its state of preservation, for its setting in the middle of mountain peaks sharply rising from the Sacred Valley floor. And of course, Lake Titicaca is unique for its floating villages and its choppy water surface behaving like an inner sea. And of course, those Inkas, they were phenomenal conquerors, administrators, builders and engineers, a bit like the Romans in Europe. But there is much more. Through a volcano-ridden and mountain dotted landscape one travels to places of much less known but equal beauty and interest, sometimes maybe even more fascinating just because they are somewhat or completely off the beaten track. The Inka sanctuary cave of Ñaupa, the hike on an Inka trail from the Pumamarca ruins to the valley floor and the magnificent millennium-old terraces of Chinchero and Pisac will remain as much in my memory, for instance, as the awe of Machu Picchu. The fact that people living on the Uros floating islands in Lake Titicaca speak Aymara language, like in Bolivia, while a short boat ride away the inhabitants of Amantaní Island belong to the unrelated Quetchua ethnicity, is also one of these fascinating details which one discovers on the go. And what to say when you visit an ancient rock-chiselled pre-Inka shrine to Inti, the Sun god, and a local family stands next to you saying a prayer aloud, head and arms lifted upward towards Inti, their Inti, whom they harmoniously venerate along with the Catholic Messiah, their Messiah as well: all this is Perú too, and all this is what I'd like to welcome you to right now.

Before visiting the place of your choice:

Over an extensive area around the two adjacent truncated pyramids, the Inkas nearly artistically constructed an impressive system of terraces for agriculture, and probably also for ceremonial events, with long retention walls, monumental staircases, ceremonial passage-ways called ‘Usnu’, water canalisations, drainage pipes, etc. Some of the terrace surfaces were also used by the Inkas to build houses, the floors and the internal water canalisations in some of them still detectable. The skills and finesse of wall construction and water management of the Inkas was incomparably superior to whatever other tribes had ever been able to create before them, and this is perfectly illustrated at the spot where a natural and of course very irregular rock matches seamlessly with the massive blocks of an artificial retention wall. Retention walls to keep the terraces from sliding onto one another, consisted of four subsequent layers: rock, gravel, sand and fertile top soil. On one of the terraces a number of offering blocks are perfectly aligned to the cardinal points of the Earth, supporting the theory that the terraces did not only have an agricultural function, but were also used for spiritual ceremonies related to the notoriously well advanced Inka knowledge of astronomy.

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