Thursday, October 29, 2015

Week #40 Back in Cusco, friends from Farmington, and a quick side trip to Ollantaytambo and Pisac

After our adventure to/from Andahuaylas, we settle in for our appointments this week.  First to the market to replenish our groceris, where there is always a big selection of local produce.  These are potatos (papas).  They claim to have 400 varieties here.  I don't know about that, but I have seen at least 30 myself.  These are finger-sized and shaped, and very tasty when cut up and boiled with other fresh ingredients in a hot soup.

Around town one afternoon, Elder Rhoades takes us through a small plaza.  The Inca-era walls are now part of a luxury hotel.  This wall with this craftsmanship and rather sparse carved images are pre-Spanish.  What are the Hermanas pointing to at the top of the picture?

Couldn't be a llama or alpaca, because it doesn't have a long neck.  And it has a long tail.  Hmm, could it be a horse?   Thought these weren't here until the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the early 1500's. 

Hermano Alvaro of the Cusco Stake Presidency, and his lovely esposa holding their temple name pages.  It took two visits, but we got connected and put all the right data in place.  Their oldest son is serving a mission in Chile.  

The obispo (bishop) of the Los Alamos ward, with his lively hijas and lovely esposa.  We have recently started our Historia Familiar work in his ward.  We're working through the 14 wards in Cusco, and with our travel, it has taken some time to get to all of them.  As per our other experiences, the members in Los Alamos are very sweet and eager to have us help them.

Hna Gregoria is the Young Women's president in barrio (ward) Vista Allegre.  She's getting her YW ready for a trip to the Lima temple in November, and is very dedicated (and persistent) in helping them get family names ready.  Hna J helps Rosa Luz with some details.

Time for a talent show in barrio Ttio, and there is no shortage of it.  Hno Julio and Hna Pily have lots of musical talent that they're happy to share.

Obispo Reyes had a skit that looked like it was going to be knife throwing, but it turned out to be a big balloon behind the "target" that got popped, and surprised everyone.

Back to barrio Los Alamos, where we set up a mini Historia Familiar workshop during Sunday School.  Hnas Julia and Nessy are eager participants, while Hna. Hill translates.  Yes, we still need the help of the missionaries, though we can carry on a HF-related conversation in Espanol without getting too hopelessly confused - or bewildering the members.  When their faces go blank, we know we've really botched a word or phrase.  If they start to laugh, we know we've turned one word into another that's really out of context.

One afternoon we have appointments with Hnas Paez and Crump.  On this nice sunny day, it was very pleasant to make a rather long walk to our appointments. 

 On our return, we just happened to detour past a cafe that we know makes really good milkshakes.

 Zone Conferences for the missionaries come around every 3 months, and we got to hear very inspired and timely messages from Presidente y Hermana Harbertson.  When the meeting broke up into workshops, we had a previously scheduled appointment, but snapped this photo of one group of Elders before we had to go, and caught them without their thumbs up.

 It would be nice to say that Dave and Becky Nelson came all the way to Cusco to see us, but they really came to see the Harbertsons.  We were invited to the Mission Home to have dinner, and they surprised us with some treats, photos, and letters from our family at home.  We were really happy to see them, and see updated photos and letters from our kids and grandkids.

Seems like either Presidente or Hna Harbertson now insist on taking photos when we get together, as with this pic of is with the Hasler's.  I'm sure by this time, they have been in thousands of photos, and it's a little relief to stand behind the camera.  Their wonderful smiles are always genuine, and reflect the love they have for all their missionaries here.

One afternoon we detour toward Plaza San Blas in route to an appointment.  Not the wide sidewalks we're used to at home, but these streets (look at the cobblestones) were here long before there were cars.

Walking through the square, we stopped to watch a little Chechua woman at work weaving a belt while she wait for customers.  I'm quite fascinated by their weavings, and how they make such colorful and interesting designs. I may have to take a class on it when we get home.  Her goods were very nice, but a little overpriced - even after the usual bargaining, so we took a pass on these.

The battery in my daily-wear watch decided it was going to die after several years of good service, so I took it to a very small shop where they have every type of padlock imaginable, as well as about every watch battery that is available.  Cost, including installation - 6 Soles, or less than $2.

After a rather humiliating defeat in Round 1 of the damas (checkers) championship, I came back to a stunning victory over Yuripe, the reigning champ, in Round 2.  Round 3 will decide the championship of todo mundo (the whole world).  In Chechua, her name means "dove".

Later this week, Hna Rhoades (identical) twin sister and her husband come to town for a visit with them, and we get invited to meet them halfway back from Macchu Picchu at Ollantaytambo.  There are some massive and famous ruins here, but due to timing, we didn't get to see them (again).  Instead, there are others on the opposite side of the valley that are easily accessible, and we decide to see those before their train arrives.  Seems like the Incas liked to built most of their buildings on the side of mountains for some reason, and everything is a hike up, sometimes (mostly) on narrow trails.

Don't know for sure what these ruins were originally, but my guess is a traveler's hotel, as these apartment-looking buildings are about halfway between Cusco and Macchu Picchu.  The structures were built with their usual fine stonework, but the roofs were poles and thatch, and are long gone.  It is remarkable that they have survived with the walls exposed many hundreds of years after the roofs were gone.

From the ruins in the previous picture, a look across the valley is a good view of Ollantaytamo.  There are temples and other buildings on the upper left, wide terraces that were not used for farming, they appear almost like amphitheater seating.  The center has some buildings that look like houses for the king and his court, and the lower right contains baths with naturally warm water.

Hna J explores around some of the narrow walkways.  If anyone ever though she is timid or fearful, you should see here here.  She is usually the first one up, around, across and over.

More ruins at the same site, remarkably well preserved, which attests to the quality of their design and construction.  They literally are built on the side of a mountain.

From Ollantaytambo, it's about an hour's drive to another massive site:  Pisac.  These are farming terraces that are below the actual site, visible in the saddle at the upper right.  These terraces are wide enough to farm with a tractor!

A small, narrow tunnel that was cut in the natural slope of the rock leads to the site.

What's left of what has been described as a massive temple complex.   This is quite impressive.

If you've heard that the Inca stonework was so finely crafted that you can't stick a knife blade between the joints, here is proof.  In the highest-quality structures (the temples were the highest), this quality was maintained throughout.  How it was done is a mystery that is lost, and no one really knows for sure, even though many theories abound.  That it was done by space aliens is one of the most unlikely, but probably no more so than giant mirrors that focused the sun's rays and cut the rock like a laser.

Got your radiused corners here.

Got your square corners here.

Finely crafted tapered entry way, with the lintel stone in place.

Hmm, the 4th row up is a little curious.  My guess is that Pachachute and Tupac Amaru started on opposite sides, and when they met, someone hadn't measured correctly.  No problem, they just custom-cut a small stone to fill the gap.

A stone watercourse leading from a spring.  All still intact and functional.

And it leads to a small pool (font?)  Note the steps and handholds to help yourself in and out, and the drain that maintains a constant level, complete with overflow.

Around a corner at the top of the site was an enterprising Chechua woman with her woven belts and blankets for sale.  She had quite a bundle of them, and I bought a colorful hatband for 10 Soles (about $3.25).  She's working on a long belt here, and her only tool is the stick you see in front of her hands.  She picks and counts each row make the beautiful and symmetric designs.  She sits here all day and works, hoping to find customers from the tourists and visitors.  When the day is over, she has about a 4km walk down to where the closest homes are.

I really want to find a loom with a work about half-finished, just for display.  She offered to sell me this work in process, but it really isn't what I'm looking for.  Her only tools are a spike in the ground, and the stick.  The rest is skill and craftsmanship.  She or her village also raised the wool, sheared it, spun it, and dyed it.  

Well, I told you that Hna Rhoades had an identical twin sister.  Which one is "ours"?  After a long and enjoyable day, we finished with a nice dinner, complete with hostess in traditional dress.

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