Those who know me well are aware of my tendency to crush on engineers 🙂 So needless to say I was impressed with the Incas! The truth is not entirely clear and I hear some varying accounts of history so it was tough to make a final call on whether they were gods or just great strategists but there is no question their engineering and architectural accomplishments were astonishing.
There was talk of meritocracy and a perfect society but I am a skeptic by nature. I need to learn a lot more before I will have any official opinions but I was further impressed by David’s skills. I wish I had spent more time with him – and taken notes!
We visited two Inca ruins. The views were spectacular and the climb not too demanding. The Sacred Valley
was apparently the agricultural heartland of the Inca empire. It’s not clear the exact purpose of the terraces but it definitely seemed likely to have been an early version of an agricultural research station – a way to determine what plants grew best at what elevation and how to optimize the production of those 3,000 varieties of potatoes!
David also explained how each of the Inca cities was built in the shape of revered animal in Inca culture. The big three were the puma, the condor and the snake. I’m trying to remember everything I learned (and googling for support 😉 but it reflects my experience in Peru where the information I gathered about the Incas seemed sometimes open to interpretation. That will happen when a civilization is that old. I think we’re going to go with snake for knowledge, puma for power and condor for communing with the gods. I was mostly fascinated with the idea of creating a city in the shape of a puma!
David also taught me a little about Inca symbolism so that I could buy jewelry 🙂 We also hit the Pisac Market. It was overwhelming in that grand way of seeing so many gorgeous and new objects to lust after. And Peruvians are into colour so it was tough to resist!
He took me into a shop just off the official market and I was mesmerized by the jewelry. I got a
demonstration of the craftsmanship and learned how to tell silver apart from nickel (nickel is shinier). It was hard to restrain myself but came away with a necklace and earrings showing the sun and the moon, the father and mother of the Inca empire. What was most exciting to the amateur geologist in me was the gorgeous polished stone inlaid into the silver.
My day in the Sacred Valley was a great example of the serendipity of travel. David, my outstanding guide. The gorgeous landscape and spectacular ruins. The enticing Pisac market. Be sure to include it on your visit to Peru 😉