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Peru

On my trip to Peru I visited Lima, Cuzco, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca which is the highest lake in the world (3800 meters).

Peru's incredibly rich and compelling archaeological heritage and its great natural beauty remarkable even in a continent renowned for its exotic vistas - draw tens of thousands of visitors each year. Almost all make a stop at Lima, which is Peru's cultural and business center. Lima's physical atmosphere is slightly dreamlike, mostly because of the garua - a mist that settles over the city between May and October. Under its blanket, Lima's inhabitants meet at the penas (bars offering folk and Creole music), shop at the open marketplaces, and dine at Lima's celebrated restaurants. Several museums display and preserve Peru's golden past, including most notably the internationally famed Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Arqueologia.

Cuzco is located in South Eastern part of the Andes with perhaps the most beautiful views in the world. It is surrounded by six mountains, some more than 6,000 meters high, as well as being the oldest city in the western hemisphere and the cradle of the ancient Inca civilization. Known by the Incas as the "Home of Gods", Cuzco became the capital of one of the largest pre-Columbian empires: the Tawantinsuyo. Its name in Quechua, Qosqo means "Navel of the world". The contrast between native and western cultures, between history and the present makes Cusco especially attractive to foreign visitors.

Lake Titicaca the cradle of Incan civilization, and the origin of the Inca Empire is the largest lake on the South American continent. It is reputed to be the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake has waves, testament to its size and not surprising the waters are cold. At that altitude and fed from snow-clad Andes the lake does not invite swimming. It is the remnant of an ancient inland sea and the blue waters make a beautiful contrast to the parched altiplano.

According to Incan mythology, Manco Capac and Mama 0cllo, also known as Mama Huaca, emerged from the depths of Lake Titicaca on the sacred rock gate on Isla Del Sol to found the Inca Empire. The sister island Isla de la Luna is not as well visited but is also a holy place as it housed the convent of the virgins of the sun. The entire lake was a holy place.

Also connected with the legend of Lake Titicaca is the Lemurian Solar Disc which governed the thousand year cycle of Incan time. According to legend, when the Spanish forces reached Cuzco, the Incas took the two-ton gold chain of Inca Huascar from the temple at Koricancha and threw it into the lake. It has never been found.

However the highlight of my whole trip was Machu Picchu (meaning 'Old Peak' in the Quechua language) often referred to as "The Lost City of the Incas", located at 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level on a mountain ridge northwest of Cusco. Machu Picchu is probably the most familiar symbol of Inca Empire. It was built around the year 1450 and abandoned a hundred years later, at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire.

One of Machu Picchu's primary functions was that of astronomical observatory. The Intihuatana stone (meaning 'Hitching Post of the Sun') has been shown to be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and other significant celestial periods.

At midday on March 21st and September 21st, the sun stands almost directly above the pillar, creating no shadow at all. At this precise moment the sun "sits with all his might upon the pillar" and is for a moment "tied" to the rock. At these periods, the Incas held ceremonies at the stone in which they "tied the sun" to halt its northward movement in the sky. Shamanic legends say that when sensitive persons touch their foreheads to the stone, the Intihuatana opens one's vision to the spirit. I’ve never saw anything so amazing before.

 

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