Tuesday, July 3, 2012
HIRAM BINGHAM [Describing the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911. The narrative picks up just after Bingham and his escorts have crawled across a rude bridge suspended from frail vines above the cold, rushing rapids of the Urubamba River.]:
"Leaving the stream, we now struggled up the bank through dense jungle, and in a few minutes reached the bottom of a very precipitous slope. For an hour and twenty minutes we had a hard climb. A good part of the distance we went on all fours, sometimes holding on by our fingernails. Here and there a primitive ladder made from the roughly notched trunk of a small tree was placed in such a way as to help one over what might otherwise have proved to be an impassable cliff. In another place the slope was covered with slippery grass where it was impossible to find either handholds or footholds. Arteaga groaned and said that there were lots of snakes here. Sergeant Corrasco said nothing but was glad he had good military shoes. The humidity was great. We were in the belt of maximum precipitation in Eastern Peru. The heat was excessive and I was not in training. There were no ruins or andenas of any kind in sight....
Shortly after noon, just as we were completely exhausted, we reached a little grass-covered hut 2000 feet above the river where several good-natured indians, pleasantly surprised at our unexpected arrival, welcomed us with dripping gourds full of cool, delicious water. Then they set before us a few cooked sweet potatoes. It seems two indian farmers, Richards and Alvarez had recently chosen this eagles' nest for their home. They said they had found plenty of terraces here on which to grow their crops. Laughingly they admitted they enjoyed being free from undesirable visitors and officials looking for army 'volunteers' or collecting taxes."
PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL "Why Hear?" Part 1: Why did the people we call Incas build here in a spot impossible to reach? What is it we rush here to find?
The terraces that the Inca's built here are filled with soil they hauled by hand from the valley 2000 feet below. Those terraces form the largest arable farmland at this beneficial altitude in this part of the Andes, and the llamas are very happy here. I cower. It's a matter of scale.