Incan Empire

Peru part 1 | Cusco - Lima | day 470

Having travelled without bicycles before we knew of the potential listlessness and drifting affect that can occur when traveling without much of a purpose. To combat these potential lethargic feelings we decided to dive head first into learning Spanish. We made a few commitments to ourselves about how we would make the most of our newly gained free time without the bikes. Spanish would become our main focus. We both have a little bit of history with the language, and being able to travel throughout nearly an entire continent which speaks the same language, is magical.


After concluding we should leave Bolivia for another cycling trip; we decided to start our South American backpacking adventure in Cusco, Peru. We would work our way north, trying to stay ahead of the rainy season. Once we had made our way to Colombia it would be about the perfect time to fly down to Patagonia for one last  expedition. All this and we’d make it home just in time for Christmas. 

"We decided to start our South American backpacking adventure in Cusco, Peru."
  

 

When we were cycling we didn’t meet a lot of other travelers, as we tended to end up in random places and sought out different destinations than typical backpackers. Now, here in South America we had fellow travelers around us all the time as we more or less hopped on the typical “backpacker circuit.” It was nice to have people to swap stories with and discuss future travel plans, but we miss the bicycles and the inevitable adventure they brought us. 

As we traveled throughout Peru on foot, we felt like we didn’t get to know the place as well as we would have on bike. Everything seemed a little more surface level; We met fewer locals other than our hostel hosts, and lost opportunities for the unexpected to happen. But we knew most of these things would be sacrificed when we made this decision. For us in this moment, it worked, it was what we needed. It seems you have to think outside the box to find adventure when you’re backpacking. It is entirely possible to have a unique backpacking experience, and we’ve met plenty of interesting backpackers that have tales of extraordinary adventures. The laws of attraction stay the the same on a bicycle or not; remaining open and positive will always bring you to great places.


 

Cusco, the heart of the ancient Incan empire, sits high in the mountains, high enough to have us both feeling a little loopy from the lack of oxygen when we flew in. The Incan’s created the largest empire in the world during the 16th century; stretching from modern day Chile to Colombia. The Incan king, the “Son of the Sun,” ruled from the Andean Mountain tops. When the Spanish took over they sacked every Incan development they found, it remains unknown why Machu Picchu went untouched. Aside from the location of Machu Picchu, there are still many questions left unanswered about its’ creation. 

Without the use of large animals, metal tools, or the wheel, how they created these mountain top architectural wonders is beyond comprehension. Even below the surface there remains a sophisticated plumbing system bringing fresh water throughout the city and underground irrigation supporting their terraced fields showing great agricultural and flooding knowledge. One of their most notable architectural features; the dry-stone technique, where every stone is cut to fit its’ neighbor creating a flawlessly tight fit, they did not need mortar. Their expert stonecutting knowledge is amazing considering the lack of metal tools. How they resurfaced an entire mountain top, how they got these massive stones up the steep mountain side without animals, why this site survived the Spanish invasion? All these unanswered questions really smack you in the face when you’re sitting on the terraces overlooking this beautiful town. 


  

We woke up at four in the morning to climb the 2,000 steps to the ruins before the sun peaked over the surrounding mountains. Looking out into the same beautiful landscape, walking the same footpaths and sitting on the same terraced steps as they once did, was a much more impactful experience than I could have imagined. The Incan soul resonates within this site, Machu Picchu truly is a magical place.

"The Incan soul resonates within this site, Machu Picchu truly is a magical place."
  

 

"The laws of attraction stay the the same on a bicycle or not; remaining open and positive will always bring you to great places."
  

 

  

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