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  • Nov15

    Maras, Peru

    November 15, 2019 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Sacred Valley. Casa Killaunu (House), Moray Archeological Site, Museo Inkariy

    We woke to the sounds of drizzling rain but more comforting, to the sounds of the chef and helper starting to cook breakfast. What a feast – hot chocolate quinoa porridge, scrambled eggs cooked with herbs, fried potatoes of course, (did we mention there are 3000 varieties of potatoes in Peru), and fried plantain. After we stuffed ourselves, we were picked up about 10:00 am in a sparkling white van by our driver, Gabriel, to take us to Moray a 30 km trip from the house and 7 km west of Maras.

    We drove to Urubamba and then turned off to climb uphill for about half an hour. We came to the town of Maras a typical Peruvian village where we saw the normal Peruvian dress worn by both men and women. We continued on uphill through beautiful agricultural fields. We saw many tourist buses and also ATVs ridden by tourists over very muddy terrain. When we stepped out of the lovely white van the sides were coated in red mud.

    Moray is an archaeological site in Peru approximately 50 kilometers northwest of Cuzco on a high plateau at about 3,500 metres and just west of the village of Maras. This area was discovered in 1932 and contains unusual Inca ruins, mostly consisting of several terraced circular depressions, the largest of which is approximately 30 m deep. As with many other Inca sites, it also has an irrigation system. During the rainy season, we would expect the site to turn into a giant pond but because of the terraces, how they were built, and the materials within them, the terraces never get flooded.

    The purpose of these depressions is uncertain, but their depth, design, and orientation with respect to wind and sun creates a temperature difference of as much as 15 °C between the top and the bottom. This landmark site was likely used for farming and soil samples have shown that soils were brought in from different regions to be used in helping grow crops at the different levels of the terraces. The circular shape enabled a lot of testing for crop culture as well: if the crops were facing north, south, east or west, the amount of sunshine they received varied considerably. Therefore, the Incas could experiment and study what crops grew better in what conditions and get fundamental knowledge that they could apply to their large-scale crop cultivations elsewhere. It is said that with a structure such as Moray, the Incas were able to reproduce the various climates found across their empire, from sea level to high altitude.

    We spent about an hour and a half touring the site. The terraces wound around and in the walls were embedded steps reaching about 8 feet high to allow the Incas to move from one terrace to another. We definitely could feel the changes of temperature as we went down into the center. We don’t know, but maybe thousands of years ago the crater may have been formed by a meteorite, all speculation on our part as even Archeologists have not figured out much about the site.

    There were many tourist buses that had come from Ollantaytambo and Cusco and the people were spending very little time there as they were trying to fit 3 or 4 Inca sites into a one day excursion, We are glad we have taken a few days to take our time exploring this fascinating area. We drove back down into the Sacred Valley to Urubamba, stopped at the Scotiabank ATM to stock up with Soles and then continued on to see a museum.

    Museo Inkariy is a giant of a project that took thirteen years from first planning its creation to finally opening its doors in 2015. It’s unique in that it is the first private-run Peruvian museum in the Cusco region and is more like a cinematic experience than a traditional museum visit. The museum is divided into nine different pavilions each showcasing one of the most important pre-Hispanic Peruvian cultures, over 5000 years of civilizations including Caral, Chavín, Paracas, Moche, Nazca, Wari, Lambayeque, Chimu and Inca. The descriptions and artifacts and lifelike displays were amazing and as we went through the rooms it brought together much of what we have learned throughout our trip.

    Each culture is showcased in two parts. First, elements of each culture including dress, customs, beliefs and art are explained in an ‘ante-room’. You then move to the second part of each pavilion, where an iconic scene is recreated from each culture. The Paracas room recreates a typical burial scene, while the Wari Pavilion showcases a warrior making weapons. Statues and sculptures are very realistic with extreme attention to detail including wrinkles, tattoos and perfectly styled hair! Even the body types of each character were meticulously researched to represent for example the body type and facial structure of a Wari warrior or an Inca ruler. This museum surpasses all expectations and is well worth a 2-hour visit.

    We returned to our house to have a late lunch sitting on the patio. Don went for a "lie down" and Lee spent time writing our Blog.

    Tonight, we are using up the leftovers from the 2 sensational dinners that our chef cooked for us. I hear very animated conversation downstairs, so this is the end of my typing.
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