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© 2008 Mark Collins
Peru 2004 - Day 8, Disaster (recovered)!
Today was planned be our railway trip to Machu Picchu.
After a very early alarm call we had breakfast and met up with our bus to take us to the railway station.
On our arrival it was chaos - with people and busses everywhere blocking the streets. Our guide disappeared for a few moments then came back looking worried and upset.
Apparently there had been a major landslide at Machu Picchu which had blocked the railway line and killed several people, destroying several buildings too.
Feeling sick to the pit of our stomachs wondering whether we had come all this way not to see the main attraction - we returned to our hotel to await information. Our own problems, of course, were nothing to those of the people involved in this terrible disaster, so we also felt very sad for them too. I must give real credit to our holiday agents, Travel Corp, S.A., and to Llama Travel, who were brilliant in the face of such a catastrophe. We were kept well informed and briefed the whole time.
When it became clear that there would be no trains today we were advised to enjoy the day in Cusco and hopefully there would be news of a rearrangement of the itinerary later in the day.
|Making the best of things, we decided to visit the Museo Inka, the Inca Museum which is located near the Cathedral.|
However, as it was now lunchtime we needed sustenance first, so called in at a cafe for pancakes and tea.
On our way to the museum we noticed this balcony and these symbols carved into the old Inca walls in the street.
Here are a couple of views from the cafe balcony of the roof tops and arcades.
Also shown is a passing local Peruvian lady.
On our way up the narrow street mum had a very close encounter with a car when she stepped of the high curb in front of an oncoming vehicle. Luckily no harm was done.
Here is mum leading the way just before the incident.
The rather grand entrance to the Inca Museum is shown below. It was previously an old colonial house which surrounds a courtyard with a lovely fountain at its centre.
The Inca museum, although targeted at young people, is well worth a visit as it contains many artefacts both Inca and pre-Inca from various locations in Peru. Photography was not allowed so we must jump straight back outside.
I've included this busy street scene as it captures well the buzz and atmosphere of this lively town.
The fountain is in Plaza de Armas. The second photo shows a detail from above the entrance to the Cathedral.
During the afternoon we visited both the Cathedral, which neither Alan or myself enjoyed much - too much gold and over elaborate decoration.
However we then made our way to the Dominican Convent which is close to our hotel. This convent was built over the remains of the Koricancha - the most important monument of the Tawantinsuyo built to worship the sun.
According to contemporary accounts, it was the most spectacular building of Incan Cusco. In the inner part, the precincts' walls, made of finely polished stone, were entirely covered with gold and silver sheets, idols and the representation of the sun.
After receiving the old temple's plot during the land distribution that took place in October 1534, Juan Pizarro, brother of the conqueror, ceded it to the Dominican congregation. The first prior of the convent was Friar Juan de Olías, who occupied this cloister together with a group of Mexican missionaries.
|The convent was officially consecrated in 1633. However, the earthquake of 1650 did so much damage that it was practically impossible to inhabit the building, as described by the chronicler Esquivel: "there was no church, cell or cloister left that could serve as a shelter". In 1680 the construction restarted to leave us with the buildings we see today (which in turn underwent massive repair following the 1950 earthquake).|
Today the colonial construction on each side of the cloisters has been removed to reveal the temples that surrounded the main Indian temple. They are magnificent stone buildings with trapezoidal openings and niches. Here the Incans worshipped the sun, moon, rainbow, thunder and lightening.
|In the centre of the cloister is this fountain made of Indian stone work. It is cut from one piece of andestite for both the rectangular base and the octagonal bowl. |
Before being placed here, it was previously located in Santo Domingo Square. At one time it was sold and carried Lima, but was returned here to its home. It is therefore sometimes known as the "Travelling Fountain".
Below are some photos of the Inca buildings together with some detail pictures of the amazing carved stone building blocks and plumbing - how on earth the stone fittings were made is beyond me!
|The vaulted niche in the photograph below is trapezoidal in shape. The holes and channels are most likely designed to hold sacred objects crafted from gold, silver and fine textiles. |
|This final picture from the convent is a detail from the base of one of the colonial cloister columns.|
After a rest and a wash and brush up we met up in a great restaurant called La Retama in the main square. There is a cover charge to pay for the great entertainment which includes a band and dancers. Here are some pictures - it was a great atmosphere and the food was brilliant!