A rest day in Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site visited by over a million tourists every year. We are booked on a half day tour to see some of the archaeological sites starting with Tambomachay high up on the mountain side above Cuzco. Well maintained now it was almost lost to development in the 1970s before there was much interest in Inca history so private houses and farms border the park fairly discreetly. We were entertained by a mother and son shepherding their flock of sheep, goats and llamas along the fenceline just behind the restored remains.
Then it was off to the nearby fortress of Sacsayhuaman, a vast area of huge interlocking stone walls and other remains where the Inca attempted to withstand the Spanish. Unfortunately they lost the battle and only 30,000 of the original Cuzco Inca population of 250,000 survived.
The final stop was the Inca’s most sacred building in Cuzco, Korikancha or Temple of the Sun which was flattened by the Spanish to form a site for their Santo Domingo church. There are now excavated remains of the original Temple on display showing some of the technologies used by the Inca to enable the buildings to survive seismic activity. The technologies included interlocking stones along with hidden metal links which helps explain why these and the Machu Pichu structures have survived more than 500 years in an area which has such regular seismic activity.
The afternoon was free and we had booked a service centre to give the cars some attention before heading for Lima. The booking was made with the help of Rod, our travel agent and his brother-in-law, Zac who has lived in Cuzco for 10 years and now operates a microbrewery there. Rod and later Zac were both involved in operating bus tours in South America and the major function of the service centre is to maintain a fleet of large 4WD buses – a declining business because there are now few unsealed roads and tourists prefer luxuries like aircon and wifi. What a soft bunch!
Navy Car needed a little extra work apart from the usual grease and oil change. Our skid plate had taken a bit of a beating in Juliaca where the road lead us across the railway lines and a hidden 20 cm drop on the other side. One of the skid plate mounting bolts took a direct hit, ouch, and couldn’t be removed so an angle grinder came to the rescue. Meanwhile Zac had picked up our dead starter early in the morning for a rebuild so with the skid plate out of the way this could be reinstalled and we were all back in top shape again ready for another day.
To celebrate our success, a small group decided to test Zac’s brew at the Norton Bar right on the main square. His Zenith range got the thumbs up but the real surprise was the featured beer – Old Speckled Hen. Now very few Peruvians would know the connection between Old Speckled Hen beer and MGs. The beer is brewed in Abingdon UK and named after the MG vehicle used by the factory in the 1920s to test new bits on the test route around Abingdon – apparently its bodywork wasn’t exactly pristine so someone gave it the nick-name Old Speckled Hen so why not call a beer after it…