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Brunyfire Abroad Again: Peru – Day 13.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 22, 2019 by brunyfire

Tuesday 16th April, 2019. Today, we’re back on the bus from Aguas Calientes, meandering up the winding road to the gates of Machu Picchu once again, only this time – it’s pouring with rain! Machu Picchu (translated as ‘Old Peak’ in Quechua) was built in the mid 15th century (1450s), during the reign of the Incan emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472).

Despite the weather, the place is packed and throngs of people are jammed at the gates in an attempt to stay out of the rain. A couple of pushy young Chinese guys shove their way into the crowd, earning themselves the wrath of Brunyfire as the rest of us all wait patiently with water dripping down our necks even though we’ve just purchased our very expensive plastic ponchos!

Only 2500 people a day are allowed into the Machu Picchu Archaeological Site, so tickets sell out fast particularly during high season from June to August. Once through the gates, we ignore the discomfort of the rain because the views that open up to us are magnificent in the mist.

Juri heads us off to a little known track towards an Incan bridge………20257AAA-AFDF-48C4-9716-2B48729D40D5……..where we have to sign in (and out on our return) at a warden’s hut. Most people are too busy at the main site, so we have the track to ourselves, which is just as well as it is narrow, wet and slippery and the drop to one side is terrifyingly steep. So not for the faint hearted!F8B9F9CE-D0C8-4138-8372-B1E9F6B80AE4Often referred to as a ‘secret entrance’, the Inca bridge was a simple, but effective defence system that comprised of a 20 foot gap embedded into the trail that was spanned by several logs of wood. C4032839-5D91-4E45-B929-30CAC5636190(Above image from the web). The entire trail from this sector of Machu Picchu is built into the cliffs on the western approach, snaking impressively along the side of a sheer mountainside. Most of the narrow path is in a state of disrepair and is not accessible so visitors can not get access beyond a solid wooden gate from which the hardiest peer through to take pictures. ECD72748-6137-417E-809E-9D4F9607F788The logs would simply have been removed in the event of unwanted visitors, accompanied by spears and a hail of rocks. Any foolhardy enough to risk the crossing risked a drop of 2,000 feet into the canyon below.

We walk carefully back the way we’d come, and head to the main site……AA3BF2BD-74F2-4FB5-A3F9-690B2D039AB4……..which is spectacular in the mist.c5818f8f-9f00-499d-97f0-4ff3bcc35b54.jpeg93978B21-7C16-4B58-9976-D2316AEA4A9F1C2F0243-7DC2-4F98-A8EB-33BC5B434385We spend the next hour or so wandering through the ruins and marveling at the detail. DD1A91EA-5104-4E93-907D-8516DD747788D121E020-1289-4875-9889-B27E845E91F2AC63C8A8-CEF8-4293-B0B1-97F585BBA12DThe stones used in the 200 or so buildings of Machu Picchu, as in the major buildings constructed throughout the Inca Empire, used no mortar. The stones were quarried nearby and cut so precisely, and wedged so closely together, that a credit card cannot be inserted between them. Known as the ‘ashlar’ technique, this method had engineering advantages. Peru is a seismically unstable country – both Lima and Cusco have been leveled by earthquakes – and Machu Picchu itself was constructed atop two fault lines. When an earthquake occurs, the stones in an Inca building are said to ‘dance’, that is, they bounce through the tremors and then fall back into place. Without this building method, many of the best known buildings at Machu Picchu would have collapsed long ago.

Chips from the ashlar stones were used to build the 700 terraces that surround Machu Picchu……A17B3E0A-B415-4049-A761-C0D84D251B40 ………which provided an efficient drainage system that reduces the risk of landslides. The tops of some of these are currently in use with orchids, irrigated by a unique system of water troughs.7F0AD500-2E15-487C-B3D3-6F51B7CAC8B2EADD482A-80EA-440A-825C-6DB92848CCCABy the late morning, it had started to darken up – the group are all tired and hungry, so it’s time to clamber onto the bus that heads us back down the winding mountain road, back to Aguas Calientes where we grab an extended lunch before heading back to the station, grabbing our luggage (brought down for us by our hotel porters) and head back onto the train to Ollantaytambo…….8AD98D30-4B92-4644-BCC5-C7FCD6ED5584…….and the drive back to Cuzco.

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