Sorry I have been so lax in adding more road stories to the blog, here is a very recent one for you, hope you enjoy.
Well as some of you know, (from FB) I just completed a vacation in Peru where we walked the Inca trail for 4 days to get to Machu Picchu. I have to tell you it was the trip of a lifetime and one that I would highly recommend to anyone thinking of doing it. I would only do it if I could do the walk (My personal preference being the Inca Trail). We met so many (like-minded) people, who were nothing short of amazing and we had such tough but rewarding experiences that we shared, that I found myself pitying the train people after we made it to Machu Picchu (tired, dirty and with 4 days growth of beard ... but happy).
We had 2 wonderful Incan guide who were very proud of their culture and also very educated in the history of the land, the people and their culture. They took us to many places before the trek to show how they were trying to preserve the culture by doing things in the old ways, such as making and dying alpaca wool by hand and all sorts of skills that use nothing commercial to make everyday items (Tree roots that make laundry detergent, Combinations of leaves and rocks to make dye for the wool etc). It was fascinating.
One thing they mentioned repeatedly was the way in which the spanish priests came in and forced the incas to give up their culture and the manner in which they worshiped their Gods, forcing them to convert to Catholocism by murdering and torturing anyone who refused. They destroyed centuries old structures and forced the people into slave labor to build huge catholic churches. This was not news to me because I had a seen it previously in a visit to the pueblos in New Mexico where exactly the same thing happened. In New mexico in fact, the Indians defended themselves well and a lot of the Spaniards lost their lives, so as a punishment, when the Spaniards finally conquered the town, as a punishment, they took all the kids away from whatever parents were still alive and shipped them to Mexico, never to see their parents again.
Anyway back on topic, (sorry for the digression) the incas accomplished amazing feats of engineering with very little tools. They built amazing structures out of stone and the stone cutting was so precise they did not even use mortar in the joint. Everything was built with water supply, sunshine, and astrology in mind. In some historic sites we saw evidence that through their excellent stone work, with little effort they could use the top of the walls to channel water around the towns they built.
In Machu Picchu there is the temple of the sun where a rock is situated inside a room, when the rock is illuminated through one of the windows in the room it indicates the summer solstice and the start of summer; when it is coming through the sun gate through another window it indicates the winter solstice. They did this in a time when we generally assume people were savages who "needed us" and walked around with clubs, dragging their knuckles on the ground. It certainly showed their knowledge of astrology and some incredible feats of engineering that was way beyond their time.
Having very little flat land they "terraced" the hills to create land for farming. You can see this everywhere. They also used their hydrologist skills to ensure nutrients were passed from one terrace to the next by intricate planning. If you think this was a small feat try digging out a mountain near you, with no modern equipment, to create "Steps" all the way up that you can grow crops on and let me know how it goes... ha ha.
I don't have the writing skills to adequately describe this profound experience for me, physically, mentally or spiritually (not to be confused with religiously) and I would highly recommend you do it if you ever have the opportunity.
I can give you info on how to if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care... Gary