Child of the Soil
Trip Start Jun 12, 2011
124Trip End Oct 22, 2012
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After a delicious menu del dia we visited the Museo Santuarios Andinos where they keep several of the frozen bodies of Inca children that have been found amid the mountains in Peru. The children were sacrificed by the Inca’s to appease the volcanoes. One of the bodies is on display in a glass freezer. She is estimated to be 13years old when she died 550 years ago and has been called Juanita after the archaeologist who found her
What is amazing is the altitudes that these sacrificial circular burials have been found considering the relative primitive ways of these Indian people, in particular the lack of hiking equipment for hiking such immense mountains. Juanita was found at the summit of Mount Ampato near Arequipa which is over 6000 metres above sea level. In Inca times the neighbouring volcano was active and so the summit of Ampato would have been accessible. Since then the surrounding volcano lay dormant and so Ampato’s peak was covered in snow and ice preserving Juanita, and the other children that were subsequently found on the mountain, including the clothes and blankets surrounding them and the offerings buried with them. Many of these offerings and textiles are on display in the museum alongside Juanita herself. As part of the ceremony the children were given a ceremonial drink known as Chicha. This intoxicating drink together with the coca leaves chewed to help with altitude sickness would ease the whole process, so they say. When the children were killed, by a blow to the head from a mace, they would have been too intoxicated to suffer too much pain.
The next day we headed off into the mountains, past Mount Ampato to Chivay, in the Colca Valley. Scared my knees would cause me problems again we decided against the trek down into the Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world and so settled for exploring the higher areas around the canyon and looking down into its abyss
After a short walk to see the colcas, inka storage jars carved into the canyon walls, we took a soak in the local hot springs. In the evening we sampled alpaca (not sure we would eat it again but not too bad), drank a hot toddy made of Pisco, oranges, cinamon, lime and coca leaves and were treated to some traditional dancing and of course panpipe music. Will got picked to join in which was quite entertaining.
An early start the next day (5am) and off to Cruz del Condor to watch the beautiful, huge Condor birds soar through the air. With the mountain background and the Canyon below it was truely breathtaking.... or was that the altitude and lack of oxygen!