23 March 2006

Cusco

The trip into the heart of Bolivia was fast and strange. We spent less than twenty-four hours there, and then we were gone. My impressions are vague and almost dreamlike. Now we're back in Peru, in Cusco via one night in Puno.

Walking through this city one can't help but be struck by the history of this place. We are staying in the center of the city, not far from the Plaza de Armas. The street plan, and foundations of many of the buildings are pre-conquistador. Only a few blocks from our hostal is a street lined on both sides with Inca masonry, one piece of which is the famous 12-sided stone. Many of the stone faces are the size of a dinner table and at least three feet thick.

On top of the amazing Inca stones are the square and very linear mortared Spanish walls. One sees in these very stones the succession of civilizations, and something of the change of pardigms that occured.

When Pizzaro defeated the Quitan army at Cajamarca in 1532 he took the Inca emperor, Atahualpa captive. In an attempt to save his life, and perhaps the fate of his empire, Atahualpa offered the Spaniards the proverbial king's ransom, a large room full from floor to ceiling with gold and silver. Pizzaro and his men took the gold, but they killed Atahualpa anyway, and since then the riches of Peru have flowed to Europe, and more recently North America.

I can't help but wonder what would have happened had the Incas somehow been prepared for the Spaniards. What might have happened if they had continued their rapid and aggressive expansion? Certainly they would have met the Aztec and obtained the wheel, and maize. What would have happened then? It is difficult to imagine.

Perhaps their time is finally arriving. Ollanta Humala has taken the lead in the most recent presidential poll. Elections are in three weeks.

1 Comments:

Anonymous smws said...

Here's finally a commnent, eh?

"Pardigm?" :)

I didn't realize the Inca didn't have maize. I suppose the Aztec didn't have potato either? My understanding was that the Aztec were more expansionistic and militaristic than the Inca, and so would have most likely prevailed,yes?

As of this writing Humala is still in the lead, and poised to tour the US. Wow.

-Stefan

14/4/06 11:22  

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