Why did the Incas always build on hill tops?

Today I set off for Tipon once again. As the bus stop was nowhere near the historic centre, I wasn’t distracted from my mission today. The lady in the tourist office had told me that the bus station was some way out of town. I never actually found the correct place but waited at a bus stop on the right road out of the city until a bus came along that had Tipon on the front.

Walking up to Tipon
Walking up to Tipon

The journey took about an hour and Tipon was the terminus for the bus so that part was easy. I then elected to walk up to the archaeological site rather than take a taxi. (I was being a little stubborn here as I had had enough of being harassed by people selling souvenirs and massages, which is a constant in Cusco, and I put taxi drivers in the same category.) Of course, it was quite a long way in the heat of the day up a vertical stairway, so I almost regretted my decision. Why did the Incas always build on hill tops?! And why were the steps they built so deep? It makes them very difficult for short people!

On the way up to the Tipon archaeological site
On the way up to the Tipon archaeological site

Tipon is another site whose origin is a little mysterious. It was most likely to have been an experimental laboratory for agricultural produce with various micro climates. The terraces were extremely well kept with no llamas or strimmers/brushcutters in sight. (All the sites I have visited so far have had the accompanying sound of strimmers/brushcutters. I don’t think they have discovered lawn mowers in Peru yet!) The main feature of Tipon is the irrigation channels and water fountains. The Incas were renowned for their hydraulic engineering apparently.

The terraces at Tipon
The terraces at Tipon

Apart from a tour group that came and went, there were not many other visitors, so I sat for a while and then followed the irrigation channel up the hill, further and further. I eventually decided I had gone far enough when I topped another hill and saw it trailing onwards and upwards. It was extremely cold and windy at the top so I was pleased to descend again (although there was a good view towards Cusco and up the valley the other way.)

View from Tipon down the valley
View from Tipon down the valley

After spending a couple of hours wandering around, I retraced my steps back to the village from where I caught a collectivo for my return trip to Cusco.

Corn drying in Tipon
Corn drying in Tipon
There were a lot of people congregated here - maybe the local chicha house?!
There were a lot of people congregated here – maybe the local chicha house?!

In true collectivo fashion, the vehicle was packed to the gills and yet we still picked up more people. I counted about 20 people plus the driver and conductor at one stage. There were at least 4 people standing up (or at least, standing as well as they could, given the restrictive height of the van.) For some strange reason, this trip cost more than the bus but at least it went right into the city centre so I didn’t have to walk far once I got off.

Saint being taken into the Cathedral
Saint being taken into the Cathedral

Back in the centre, I discovered that today’s event was even bigger than yesterday’s. There were about ten times as many people and I had to fight my way through the hordes to get to my cafe. I was absolutely starving, as I hadn’t had any lunch, and it was nearly 5 o’clock by then, so I had coffee and lemon meringue pie i.e. pudding before the main course!

Street cleaners at work in the Plaza
Street cleaners at work in the Plaza

From my perch in the cafe, I was able to watch the last of the Saints being manoeuvred through the Cathedral door. They had obviously all been taken out for another airing and been processed round the Plaza, complete with their accompanying bands. If anything, the noise was even greater today than yesterday.

Cooking cows hearts on the barbecue
Cooking cows hearts on the barbecue

Feeling suitably refreshed, I started to have a wander around but decided I was too tired, so fought my way through the crowds and up a side street that I thought might be less crowded. Not so! It was, in fact, absolutely packed with lots of ladies grilling cows’ heart kebabs on their barbecues and people sitting around drinking beer.

I made my way to Jack’s Cafe, where I had had an excellent very large bowl of soup once before, and, as I was so cold, it was exactly what I wanted at that moment. Once there, I ended up sitting at a table with an unbelievably talkative English woman, who had booked a private tour but joined up with other people on tours along the way, as well. She was a little disappointed to be doing the Inca Trail on her own as the other people who had booked had fallen sick and pulled out, so she had about 5 porters, a cook and a guide all to herself!

I could hardly get a word in edgeways so concentrated on drinking my soup. Afterwards, I picked up my laundry and retreated to my room for one final night, thank goodness!

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