Saqsayhuaman aka Sexy Woman.

The first ruins we visited in Peru were at a site called Saqsayhuaman.  There are several spellings of this word.  It’s Quechua and not easy to spell or pronounce.  I read somewhere that when the Spanish arrived they couldn’t manage the Quechua language  so they adapted it to spellings and pronunciations that made it more Spanish.  I’ll refrain from commenting on their arrogance until a later date.  As you can see from the title of this piece, if you apply the phonetic nature of Spanish to the name of this site, it does sound rather like Sexy Woman.  It seems that everyone is in on the joke because even some of the indigenous people would call it that with a big grin.

I took the photo above from the highest point at Saqsayhuaman.  It overlooks Cuzco.  Notice the Plaza de Armas in the foreground.

This is Lourdes, our guide for the trek through the first of the ruins we would see.  I’m fascinated by ruins.  I’m much more enthralled by mother nature and her beautiful mountains here in Peru.  But it’s the people that I really love.  Lourdes is a well-trained and certified guide.  She told us she had to study long and hard to qualify and I believe it.  She’s also qualified for Machu Picchu but is not allowed to work there now because she is about six months pregnant.  She never really explained the reasoning that went into that decision, but if I had to guess, I would think it might be about her safety.  (Of course it could be the infamous Latin American machismo.)  The paths and stairs and ledges can be treacherous at MP.  I sensed that she didn’t like the decision but she seemed to accept it with grace.Reina Lourdes

Lourdes never seemed to tire or need a rest but she instinctively knew when we were ready for a brief pause.  During one such pause we put her in the seat of royalty, took her picture and called her Reina (Queen) Lourdes.  During one of our longer breaks she and I talked about the baby.  She would soon have an ultrasound and would learn the gender of the child.  I asked her if she would have the baby in a hospital.  She told me that twenty years ago almost all babies were born at home.  That is changing and she will deliver her little bundle in a hospital.  This is her first and she glows as so many pregnant women do.

This natural rock formation was begging for a child to slide down it, so this little boy came along and his abuelita allowed him to satisfy our wondering and his desire to have a little fun.  As we strolled on to the next marvel, Lourdes told us that archaeologists do, in fact, think that the ancients used it just as the little boy did.  We wondered aloud if it were the original ride in the original amusement park.

Early in the tour of Sexy Woman we saw a large group of teenage boys jogging toward the open area where many celebrations take place.  As some of you know, I taught high school.  Even though I’ve been retired from teaching for some time, I still find it hard to resist those wonderful energetic youngsters; so I called out to them as they passed and asked where they were from.  They told me, “Lima!”  As you can see here they were going to pose for this photo.  I learned that each school has a number.  Obviously this is theirs.

Here’s another view of Cuzco.  Saqsayhuaman was an enormous Inca military site built to guard Cuzco.  I keep typing the word Cuzco with a z because that’s how I learned it years ago.  Most modern literature shows it as Cusco to make the pronunciation more nearly like the Quechua version.  Makes sense to me. 


It was a marvelous day in a magnificent place and I’m glad we spent some time there.  I’m most especially grateful to have spent time with Lourdes.  Speaking of marvelous days, we’re having a glorious one here in North Carolina–mid-seventies with very low humidity.  A rare occasion which I welcome with open arms.

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