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Friday, February 22, 2008

The city that's a puma

According to Inca tradition, Cusco is a city shaped like a puma. The connection is not obvious to a person wandering around town, but apparantly city planners long ago strategically placed sanctuaries and roads to work in line with Saqsaywaman, a hilltop fortress that represents the head of the puma.

Our first afternoon in the city, before altitude sickness completely knocked me out, we visited Hatunrumiyoc, a narrow cobblestone alley lined with a wall featuring the 12-sided stone of the same name. The puma has a presence here as well, as a series of stones together make up the head, paws, and tail of this sacred animal. Honestly, I couldn't see the resemblance, but snapped photos nevertheless.

What I remember more than the wall are all the children at Hatunrumiyoc chatting up tourists, telling the puma story in hopes of earning a tip. I tried to stay oblivious and enjoy the site on my own, but the kids were persistent. We got a personal tour without even meaning to!

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