Monday, August 4, 2008

Holy Grail Headaches

Ever wonder where the Incans came from? I´m sure theories abound, but one is that they emerged from a mystical pyramid in what is now Ollantaytambo. And apparently it is still possible to see this pyramid from the right point at the right time.

Lotus, an Oregon woman volunteering at Hearts Cafe, furthered our curiosity by an offhand comment that she has remained completely healthy throughout her four months in South America by placing a pyramid sign over her food and synchronizing the vibrations of the food and her body before every meal. JooYeon´s ears perked up - or her stomach rather - as she has been weathering queasiness for the past few days. So I pressed Lotus for more detail and she said she started by picturing the entire universe and earth, and gradually moved down to the farmers, market sellers, cooks, and essentially anyone involved in the creating the meal in front of her. Not too unlike the Christian shortcut, ¨Lord, bless this food and the hands that prepared it.¨I gave it a whirl and was amazed to discover how many hundreds of people were involved at some level in a single meal (the miners who mined the steel for the tin my bread was baked in, the workers who collected the salts and farmed the herbs for seasonings, all the transporters, etc.) I didn´t experience any vibrations, but it did give me a fresh wave of appreciation for my food.

Ready for a new adventure slightly more involved than finger blessings, the four of us set out on a dusty trail out of the village with the intent of seeing the mysterious Incan pyramid. As the kilometers ticked away and our saliva dried out, we saw nothing but several questionable triangular shapes in the sky, mountains, trees.

When the trail forked, we paired off and didn´t meet up again until almost two hours later when Joo and I discovered the boys in a little village, surrounded by Quechuans and goats. One of the elder women rushed up to us with a jug of frothy, chunky, yellow juice. After exchanging some broken Spanish and taking a sip of the drink, I realized it was the famous chicha.

Peruvian villagers make chicha by congregating and taking turns chewing corn and then spitting it into a communal bowl, preferably with loogies. When the bowl is full, they seal it and let it sit for several weeks, during which time a natural fermentation takes place. Being the polite gentleman that I am, I waited until the other 3 had finished their cups and walked away before I told them what they had just drunk. I think the smiles of all the villagers in the picture above are extra big because they secretly know that we just drank their spit! It pays to speak the local language! This was even more true when I decoded the shoutings of a young boy just in time to realize he was saying STAMPEDE! I yelled at Kiwi and we jumped out of the way just in time...
Joo and Gyu then set off for home, while Kiwi and I stubbornly marched up the mountain face, unwilling to give up our search for the elusive pyramid. We must have taken a wrong turn because our trail dead ended into a shadowy jungle halfway up the mountain. Backtracking and then blazing a new trail in relatively good spirits (except for Kiwi´s head pounding from the chicha) we eventually came across an animal path that led us back to a real path which led us to the summit where we found an old Incan stone quarry and some altars but no pyramid.
As we traversed one mountain and then another for hours, our enjoyment of the majestic landscape was sullied by our inability to find the stupid pyramid (note that some of the sanctity had dropped out by this time). Kiwi wisely suggested I take several photos from various angles along the path just in case we could find it later after returning. Which was a good thing, because by the time we waddled into Inti Wasi that evening (blisters), we both felt the frustration of failure. While recounting our quest to Joo and Gyu, Irma scanned my photos and suddenly exclaimed, ¨Here it is!¨ while looking at the following photo:

I felt a bit cheated (I mean can you see it?) although I could indeed make out the pyramid vaguely, until she explained that during the sunset of the summer solstice, the shadows perfectly cover everything but the pyramid and that the temple at the peak is bathed in reflective light. Right place, wrong time.

Kiwi´s ¨delicious¨reward awaited him upon returning. Wanting to experience local culture to the fullest, he had ordered cuy from Irma´s sister who raises them. Unfortunately, he had thought that a guinea pig (cuy) was just a Peruvian pig. I was just glad that Joo and I had chosen to be vegetarians for this trip. Gyu turned out to be the adventurous carnivore this time and devoured most of it within minutes (that said, there´s not a lot of meat on a guinea pig).

As an update to the roof situation, it´s actually been quite interesting to see how the step by step process works out in their roofs. And really, the view from our bedroom window (shown below) is almost as good as the one on the roof. And, as for hanging out, we now roam the streets where we meet people like the Bread Guy (who was kind enough to give us a free sample fresh from his cart).

1 comment:

  1. I would have to be vegetarian also. I do see a pryamid. Great pictures. Mom