Month: April 2013

Peru 2008: Cusco and the Qoricancha

July 1, 2008

Today we had a walking tour of Cusco in the morning, followed by lunch and afternoon on our own. On the walking tour, we saw many of examples of original walls built by the Incas centuries ago. These walls are all over town.

We first went to the Qoricancha, which means enclosure (cancha) of gold (qori). However, it was originally the Temple of the sun god, and was named Inticancha.  Apparently the Spanish found so much gold here that the place came to be known as the Qoricancha. The Inca used a lot of gold here for their ceremonies to worship the creator god, Viracocha and the sun god, Inti.

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When the Spanish came, they attempted to destroy the Inca religion by knocking down religious and sacred sites and building churches on top of them. That’s what they did at the Qoricancha, building the church of Santo Domingo on top. The Inca exterior walls are still intact and what remains of the interior Inca structures are now preserved.

Convento de Santo Domingo built on a foundation of Inca walls and terraces
Convento de Santo Domingo built on a foundation of Inca walls and terraces
Qoricancha curved outer wall
Qoricancha curved outer wall
Interior courtyard of the convent
Interior courtyard of the convent
Morning sun on the arches of the convent, showing the Inca temple inside.
Morning sun on the arches of the convent, showing the Inca temple inside.
Series of trapezoidal windows
Series of trapezoidal windows
They have had to reconstruct a lot of this place because much had been destroyed by the Spanish. So now it's more like a museum.
They have had to reconstruct a lot of this place because much had been destroyed by the Spanish. So now it’s more like a museum.
Jayme shows that a credit card cannot be inserted between the stones of an Inca wall.
Jayme shows that a credit card cannot be inserted between the stones of an Inca wall.

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Diorama of the agricultural sector
Diorama of the agricultural sector
This diorama shows how the Inca people would worship in the temple.
This diorama shows how the Inca people would worship in the temple.
Diorama showing Cusco life during Inca times. Note the king being carried on his litter.
Diorama showing Cusco life during Inca times. Note the king being carried on his litter.

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History of the Inca Ceremonial Niche
History of the Inca Ceremonial Niche
ceiling tiles
ceiling tiles
When they stripped this facade (the remainder of it in white above), they found a beautiful intact Inca wall.
When they stripped this facade (the remainder of it in white above), they found a beautiful intact Inca wall.
Fine, smooth stonework of the Incas
Fine, smooth stonework of the Incas
At the end of this hallway is a view of the Milky Way galaxy. The Inca had their own set of beliefs about the images that could be discerned in the galaxy's structure.
At the end of this hallway is a view of the Milky Way galaxy. The Inca had their own set of beliefs about the images that could be discerned in the galaxy’s structure.
Animals that the Inca saw in the Milky Way galaxy.
Animals that the Inca saw in the Milky Way galaxy.
Here is the explanation of the animals of the Milky Way and their meaning to the Incas.
Here is the explanation of the animals of the Milky Way and their meaning to the Incas.
Wall with holes and notches
Wall with holes and notches
Inca artifacts found at the site
Inca artifacts found at the site
The images on this gold plate are explained in the next picture.
The images on this gold plate are explained in the next picture.

664Outside there are some terraces which were all planted with corn and other crops “made of gold”, according to Spanish accounts.

section of ancient wall of the Koricancha
section of ancient wall of the Koricancha
Inca terrace structure
Inca terrace structure
The three sacred animals of the Inca (condor, puma and snake) have been mowed into this space.
The three sacred animals of the Inca (condor, puma and snake) have been mowed into this space.

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The capital of Cusco conceptualized in the form of a puma, the Qoricancha,  as well as other Inca monuments including Machu Picchu, were part of a grand design by the most important Inca leader, Pachacutec. You can really see this when you realize that most of the Inca sites found scattered throughout this part of Peru were built very purposefully in certain spots, all interconnected through the Solstice and mountains the Incas considered sacred.

Modern Cusco is a mixture of Inca, colonial Spanish, and modern Western/mestizo culture. The center of town is charming with its many plazas, Spanish balconies and arches, and Inca stone walls lining many narrow streets.

Cusco street with partially exposed Inca wall.
Cusco street with partially exposed Inca wall.
Stone-lined alley with irrigation ditch down the middle
Stone-lined alley with irrigation ditch down the middle
Inca trapezoid doorway
Inca trapezoid doorway
This stone wall was filled in, only the bottom of the Inca wall remaining.
This stone wall was filled in, only the bottom of the Inca wall remaining.

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Typical Cusco street with a fusion of colonial Spanish and Inca elements.
Typical Cusco street with a fusion of colonial Spanish and Inca elements.

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Cusco street scene
Cusco street scene
Cusco narrow street
Cusco narrow street
Pat stands in front of preserved Inca wall in Cusco
Pat stands in front of preserved Inca wall in Cusco
Boris points out features of another Inca wall with fitted stones creating pictures.
Boris points out features of another Inca wall with fitted stones creating pictures.

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I'm not sure why these stones are marked like this, but it seems researchers are mapping out something.
I’m not sure why these stones are marked like this, but it seems researchers are mapping out something.

Cusco is hilly too, adding to its charm, but making me huff and puff as I climb streets at 11,000 feet above sea level. There are cute shops, colorful people – women dressed in native costumes, schoolchildren dressed in uniforms, business people, teenagers and children, and of course hordes of tourists – and noisy traffic that tends not to respect tourists.

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Shops and restaurants that surround the square
Shops and restaurants that surround the square

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????? ??????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????? Raw00574People hang out and relax in the plazas, particularly Plaza de Armas with its beautifully manicured flower gardens, central fountain, and pigeons wandering around and suddenly flying up in front of your face! Lining the plaza on all sides are upscale restaurants and shops with colonial architecture, two colonial churches, and narrow streets climbing upward and away from the square, inviting one to explore them.

We’re accosted by people selling things, who automatically address us in their rudimentary English: “Madam, please, you buy…only five soles, madam.” This still bothers me, but I’m getting used to ignoring them.

The only negative is that I have a bad cold! It started in Ollantaytambo and a day later, I got a sore throat, then the runny nose and cough started. It wasn’t bad in Machu Picchu, but it’s gotten worse here! I’ve used up all my Advil Cold and Sinus so I stopped at Inka Farma and got cough medicine. Thinking that wouldn’t be enough (it wasn’t), I’ve also gladly accepted a fellow group member’s Tylenol Cold Day & Night.

By mid afternoon, I was feeling tired but relaxed and finding it easier to make conversation with people. Somehow purchasing cough syrup at the pharmacy boosted my confidence, as I explained to the pharmacist what I needed and even said things that weren’t strictly necessary! I also helped Dale and Jayme buy a number of things. They depend on me because neither of them speaks Spanish. My Spanish is pretty good, yet I still feel shy about speaking freely at first. I tend to say what is necessary and spend more time listening. Once I’m relaxed and not feeling embarrassed, I feel more at ease talking with people.

Anyway, walking down Avenida El Sol toward our hotel after a gratifying day of exploring this fascinating and historical city, mingling with the crowds of average people on their way home from work, I thought how much I really like this city! And now that I’m really enjoying it, we’re leaving tomorrow! I wish we could stay a few more days here. In fact, I could see myself coming here to study or work, and stay several months.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: “Up” in Hawai’i

I have chosen as my UP theme some photos from a 2009 trip to Hawai’i.

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UP: This is a view from the top of the Pali Highway that connects Honolulu on one side of Oahu to Kailua, on the other. It is also the site of a historical battle fought between the forces of Kamehameha and Maui. With Kamehameha’s victory, he became the first king of Hawai’i.

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UP: At the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, one of the performances includes this young man climbing up a coconut tree to gather coconuts. In the first picture, he’s climbing up and in the second he’s reached the top.

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Here’s my husband about to climb UP one of the steep staircases along the trail to the top of Diamond Head. The view from the top was beautiful, and we got a different view of it a few days later when we flew to Maui:

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UP: On our flight from Oahu to Maui, we flew right over Diamond Head crater. This view from UP in the sky shows the inside of the crater flanked by metropolitan Honolulu on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. You can see part of the trail we took to the top.

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UP above Haleakala crater on the island of Maui. We drove up this volcanic mountain in the afternoon since we didn’t want to go up at sunrise, as tourists are encouraged to do! Instead, after daylight hours viewing the beauties of this national park, we were still up there at sunset, and I took some spectacular photos of the sunset!

Daily Prompt: Seasons

The April 8 (yes, I know, but I haven’t checked my email since then) daily prompt was:

For many of us, winter is blooming into spring, or fall hardening into winter. Which season do you most look forward to?

This one is easy – summer, always summer. I like spring because I like to watch the earth come alive again, but also because it leads to summer. Summer means warm weather. Summer means vacation. Summer means watching thunder storms at the cottage.

Summer means long bike rides and hikes. Summer means shorts, t-shirts and SANDALS!

You would probably be hard pressed to find a teacher who didn’t like summer the best. Summer is the time when we can do those things we don’t have time to do during the school year, or just to RELAX. Sometimes, though, summer is a time to catch up on classes we need for a further endorsement or credits toward renewal of our teaching certificates.

When I was younger, I liked fall the best – crisp, cool air, brilliant colors on the trees, shuffling through the fallen leaves. The worst thing about fall is that it eventually got colder and turned into winter. I have never liked winter because I don’t tolerate the cold well. However, there are some good things about winter also: the Christmas season, drinking hot chocolate curled up under a warm blanket, sitting by a warm fireplace, and when the snow has freshly fallen, the landscape is brilliant and beautiful. I like the way the snow traces the branches of the trees. I DON’T like to shovel it! I’m not into sports, especially winter sports.

All the seasons have their attractions, and I would miss them if I were to live in a place where it is summer all year round. It is a marvel of nature to witness the cycle of life every year. It’s a reminder that nature is really in charge of our planet and that no matter how our own lives are going, nature is going about doing what it always does:

Seeds and bulbs lie dormant, waiting for the sign…

Life is born as tiny plants shoot up out of the ground after a long hard freeze,

birds return to budding trees and sing their joy to the warming spring air,

flowers invite visitors by opening their petals, revealing their fertile interiors,

insects hatch and reappear, their buzzing and busyness signaling their quest for food.

Rain falls, sometimes in tempestuous torrents, providing nourishment to the soil and plant roots,

trees in full foliage provide shade and green beauty when the sun shines down its greatest heat and helps manufacture the chlorophyll

collected by their abundant leaves.

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Green gives way to red, yellow, orange and brown as trees lose their green chlorophyll and the sun diminishes its heat,

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the air turns colder and the wind blows the fallen leaves,

trees are bare, waiting for

snow, which coats their branches and blankets the ground.

The ground freezes and animals hibernate,

the land is white and silent,

early shadows extend over the blinding white landscape,

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snow falls or doesn’t,

ice melts on sunny days, dripping down into the frozen ground,

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snow melts into water and

flows down, down, soaking the ground and the dead grass…

giving a sign, with the help of the rising sun

that it’s time for life to awaken and

begin its cycle again.

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Daily Prompt (March 31): Messy or neat?

March 31st’s daily prompt was:

Does a messy home (or office) make you anxious and cranky, or is cleaning something you just do before company comes over?

I don’t like having a messy home or messy office; however, both my home and my office are messy – I can’t help it. I organize everything once in awhile, and take great pride in doing so; then I vow to keep it neat. It does stay neat – for awhile, but eventually things just start piling up again.

Then one of two things happens: either we are having people over for some occasion, in which case we have to spend the day uncluttering the house, or at least the part of the house that people are likely to congregate in; or the cleaning service we employ once a month is due to come in, and so we have to pick up things so that they can clean. It seems ironic, but I have heard of many people having to do this – clean up so the cleaning crew can come in and clean. The fact is, the cleaning crew will not pick up our messes; instead they’ll just clean around them, so that we end up with areas that don’t get cleaned. They never clean my office – what’s the point? There are so many piles of stuff in there that have to be dealt with that it isn’t worth their spending time trying to clean around them.

Having ADD is a serious hazard to someone who would love an always clean and neat home, someone who loves looking in the window of home furnishing stores and admiring a beautiful table set with attractive dishes or a shiny vase filled with tasteful dried flowers…my house never looks like that and probably never will. It’s a blessing that my husband and I can afford to have a cleaning crew come in once a month; otherwise, things would get much worse.

The fact is, I have ADD and my husband is a packrat who doesn’t want to deal with every piece of paper even when it’s time to neaten the house. As a result, when we have guests over, they don’t really expect a spick and span house; often we can’t even use the dining room chest to put food trays on because it’s covered with my husband’s undealt with stuff.

So I content myself with admiring the attractive touches I’ve created here and there – a vase with dried plants collected from my garden last fall; a coordinated, nicely set dining room table; my collection of folkloric animals made in Mexico.IMAG0309

The best thing is when I either get into my head to do an organizing project or when my husband gets on a “mission” to get things done. In the latter case, it’s just easier for me to follow his instructions because thinking about such tasks makes me just want to find something else more interesting to do.

In the rare instance when I begin a project – and my husband goes crazy because I don’t often finish what I’ve started – I throw myself into it and try to push myself to get it done. I’ve been told to break projects down into manageable parts, but if I do that, the project could go on forever and never really be done. It’s better for me to push myself to do as much as I can before my head is about to explode or I get to the verge of exhaustion.

A project I’ve been pretty successful with so far is organizing the closet in the upstairs hall, which contains our bed and bath linens as well as a variety of small items that are related to hygiene, beauty, health – things that don’t fit in the bathroom.

I got the idea from visiting someone last summer to find shallow bins, baskets 65.-Cheap-Plastic-Boxesor box lids and put one category of items in each of them, then label them and arrange them on the shelves. I have finished more than half of this project, but the last time I worked on it was probably six months ago! Still, I am proud of my work every time I look in the closet – because now I can usually find what I’m looking for!

Even so, this is not a public area that everyone sees or spends a lot of time in.

Other ways I’ve devised to try to keep things organized:

  • A nice looking handmade series of pockets that I bought in Peru is  holds various pieces of mail that have to be dealt with, coupons I want to save, or my son’s papers that he loses after leaving them lying around for a long time.
  • A basket next to the front door holds mail that has to be sorted through, and a series of magazine boxes to hold the many magazines we subscribe to but don’t get read very quickly.
  • I have a large filing cabinet to hold documents, maps, insurance forms, information about various things, financial statements, etc. I am pretty good about putting the appropriate things in their corresponding files, but often a pile will build up first and I have to set aside a couple of hours to sort them all and put them away.

All these organizing tools things do help, but they don’t solve the problem. Because what happens is, I work on keeping one area neat while another gets neglected – I may put away all the paperwork in files, while my CD collection gets piled up as I listen to a few CDs and then just stack them next to the stereo instead of putting them away.

The work of an ADD-afflicted adult is never done!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

This photo was taken of my mother on the day she moved from her apartment in Independent Living to a room in Assisted Living. She had to greatly downsize and witnessed a stream of relatives visiting her and choosing what they wanted from the things laid out on the guest bed.

Here she sits facing the empty shelves, shelves that had held treasured and familiar things for so long, now packed in boxes or given away. I don’t know what she was thinking at that moment, but the scene is poignant in its representation of the changes elderly people go through as their ability to care for themselves decreases and they see the approach of the end of their lives.

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Day in My Life – Saturday

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, March 30, 2013:

I always start out the day with a cup of strong, freshly ground and brewed coffee!

Today is the last day of Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC. Today he’s showing repeats of past segments. This show has been a staple of Saturday mornings at our house.

 

At 9:00 on Saturday mornings, I go to my Zumba class at our local fitness center. Here I am putting the final touches to my outfit!

Breakfast!

After our workout we have our traditional Saturday morning omelet: my husband’s usual sausage, onion and cheese, even though I would sometimes prefer veggie.

Instead of working in my garden, I end up at the supermarket doing some last minute Easter shopping! We’re having 10 people at least for dinner!

Last opera of the Lyric season – Rigoletto! My usual opera partner couldn’t make it, and my hubby was tired, so I invited a friend who just had a birthday.

The Bistro restaurant inside the Civic Opera building. These are typical tables – small but accommodating.

Cornish pastries: My choice for dinner this evening.

After dinner, we have a look at the dress they have on display in a glass case. This one looks Wagnerian but in fact, it was worn by the lead in Elektra.

         From the balcony, we look down at the the bartenders and their early clientele in the main lobby.

The opera house has beautiful facades, ceiling decorations and light fixtures. I took this picture as we listened to a pre-opera lecture on the main floor. (Our seats – the cheap seats – are up three floors in the balcony!)

At intermission, we go back to the Bistro, where the dessert we ordered and paid for earlier is waiting for us! Mine is flourless chocolate cake – yummy! My friend and I also have ordered decaf coffee.
We have just enough time to have our dessert and make a quick trip to the restroom before the 5-minute warning bell calls us back to our seats.

I was too tired and also forgot to take a picture of our Metra ride back to the suburb where we live. The train got in on time, around 11:05; we walked back to our parked car and I dropped off my friend before returning home –
and my bed!!