Saturday — April 4Amazing what a good night’s sleep will do. We were up at 5:30a, raring to go, and out the door by 7:30a, but not before having a light breakfast in the enclosed roof terrace at Los Apus.
Los Apus — early breakfast is served in the enclosed roof terrace.We had a very full day with no adverse effects from being at altitude except for a little breathlessness that evidenced itself when we were going up steps or walking uphill. Slowing our pace did the trick and we were able to enjoy exploring and hiking through the countryside. If we are symptom-free tomorrow, we’re going to stop taking the Diamox and drinking the coca tea. Today’s itinerary called for visits to multiple sites on the outskirts of Cusco. Knowing that the tour busses would not be far behind, Vidal took us to the farthest site and we worked back from there. Our first stop was at Tambomachay, located at 12,400 ft (~3,765 m) above sea level — our highest point to date on this trip. The Inca culture worshipped all aspects of nature — the sun, the moon, the mountains, the water … to name a few. They built temples dedicated to the worship of natural elements. Tambomachay was a water temple, often referred to as "Baño del Inca" (the Inca’s Bath) and was used for ritual bathing. Some Peruvian historians claim that the place was used by Inca Tupac Yupanqui as a hunting lodge. The temple was partially destroyed during the colonial period. The fact that the spring that feeds the three fountains today flows unaltered from the way it did during Inca times makes this temple one of the best preserved of its kind. Incorporated into one of the finely honed and shaped walls is a giant boulder left in situ. The spring that feeds the fountain follows a path beneath this rock before it reaches the surface. For a culture that worshipped nature, to have water seemingly born from a rock would have been ample reason to choose this particular site for the building of Tambomachay.
Tambomachay was a temple dedicated to the worship of water.Numerology plays an important role in the Inca culture. The two niches on the right are sort of a like the yin and yang, representing a pair; a male and a female. The four windows at the top represent the four kingdoms that formed the Inca empire. In fact, the empire was known as Tawanintisuyu, the four kingdoms of the sun (Tawan=four; inti=sun; suyu=kingdom). (Some translate Tawanintisuyu as the "Four Quarters of the Earth".) As Vidal explained, many of the Quechua names are literal words that describe places. Tambomachay, for example, can be translated as “Storage Rock” (tambo=storage; machay=rock). A reference to the rock stored in the wall? Or a reference to the water (in the form of the spring) stored in the rock? Or maybe both?? As impressive as the whole site was, I was especially struck by the craftsmanship of the walls of the temple. More specifically, I was impressed by the walls where the Inca masons turned a corner by shaping rocks to form a seamless curve rather than abutting two rocks together and taking the easy way out. Such craftsmanship, Vidal told us, is another indication that Tambomachay was a place of importance and that its use was probably restricted to the Inca nobility.
Seamless corners — a hallmark of Inca craftsmanship.Next Up: Day 2 — Hiking in the Countryside