After a quick breakfast with the group we walked all together to the base of the sun temple ruins. We met up with a local guide and he led us up the ruins, explaining Incan history along the way. Every activity we do here seems to involve ‘a short hike up the mountain,’ so I often feel a little winded, but we are trying to avoid altitude sickness as best we can by staying hydrated and drinking coca tea (a tea made of coca leaves that supposedly helps prevent this sickness).
The Inca engineering is incredible. The steps we climbed up were granite rocks about 2’ wide by 4’ deep, and very thick. I can’t completely wrap my head around how these huge rocks were transported. The ancient people harvested them from the top of a neighboring mountain, and then used timber, ramps, animals, and their own physical strength to haul them up to a very high point on the mountain of the sun temple. I wonder how many years and people it took to do this. There is evidence here at the sun temple of the Spanish invasion because some rocks were abandoned on the ramp on the way to the temple. How disappointing it must have been to not be able to finish.
The temple walls are built like a giant puzzle—each fitting into the other with such precision that you could not fit a sheet of paper in-between them. I tried to soak up as much history and knowledge from these people as possible. The architecture here is amazing. We learned that trapezoid-shaped doors and windows are a distinctive feature of Incan architecture and this is an easy way of differentiating ruins.
The placement of these structures also amazes me. The Incans looked at the nature around them and the shapes of the mountain and then built in a way that incorporated the earth. Unlike in today’s society, where we destroy nature and build up our own towers, the Incans embraced nature and trusted its guidance for their architecture. They seemed to have had no problems with landslides, earthquakes, or erosion; after all, mountains have been standing for quite a long time…