Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Where have I been? On the Camino Inca walking to Macchu Picchu, of course.
The Camino Inca (Inca Trail), like life, has a lot of ups and downs. The Inca Trail ups and downs, though, are steep and were constructed approximately 500 years ago out of hand carved stone blocks. Many people including me, myself and I, did not believe that I could endure 45 kilometers with a climb over a 14,000 foot pass. However, with the help of the unbelieeevable guide and porters from SAS Travel Peru it was, as they say here, papayitas (little papayas; like a piece of cake).
Some cool things about the Incas (according to the very knowledgeable guide, Aldo, from SAS Travel): Between about 1450 AD and 1530 AD much of South America flourished under the Inca Empire. In 1532 AD the Spaniards, led by Francisco Pizarro, arrived and trashed the place.
The Incas built a vast network of roads from their ruling city in the Cusco Valley to their sacred sites (like Machu Pichu) and to other towns and cities in their empire (stretching to what is now Ecuador, Chile and Argentina).
The Inca spiritual tradition emphasized the positive values of hard work, generosity and honesty (as opposed to the negative Spanish Christian precepts of "Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not lie, Thou shalt not be lazy).
When the Spaniards showed up in Cuzco they knocked down all the important Inca buildings and used the stones to build their own stuff (like lots of Catholic churches). These all fell down in the next earth quake and the Spaniards had to ask the locals how to build to earth quake standards.
When the Spaniards started to trash Cuzco, the Inca priests cleaned the sacred objects out of Macchu Picchu, transported them to other sites and destroyed portions of the Inca Roads, hiding Macchu Picchu until it was "re-discovered" in the early 1900's.
More cool than anything else: The Incas farmed on terraces not just to maximize growing space in the steep mountains but to practice plant breeding for altitude by successively moving hardy plants up to higher and higher terraces.
If you're going to hike the Inca Trail you must have:
1. A good attitude and a small, light weight but comprehensive first aid kit.
2. Probably should have a good, licensed guide service (I recommend SAS).
3. Good foot wear
4. Good sun protection
5. Good rain protection
6. Good camera
7. Your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer
Posted by Vanessa at 1:55 PM