Mountains, lakes, caves and ruins
There is something restorative about getting out into nature. The mountains on our trip were snowcapped and stunning, the air refreshingly splashed you in the face and the sky was so blue!
This week I read an article on the importance of getting out in nature for your mental health and I definitely agree! Being able to spend time walking, exercising and spending time with the family and friends was life-giving and brilliant for the body, brain and spirit!
The Brown family help organize a kids nature club in Cusco where they get together with other families to explore nature most weeks. They therefore knew some great places to explore! The first place they took us was 'Pikillacta' - some pre-Inka ruins of a Wari settlement nearby the red marker on the map below. 'Pikillacta' apparently means "Flea village" but thankfully we didn't encounter any of those. There was a steep staircase to climb up and then an inner-village wall road for the boys to race around. The kids all enjoyed taking spines of cactuses and collecting berries from the trees.
The big pyramid-like wall you see in the first photos below are actually remains of the old Inca gate to the West to enter into Cusco (they had four entrances from the four corners of their world - you can still see those four main roads coming out of Cusco centre on the map above.) The pyramid-like ruins are called Rumicolca or "Rock deposit". There were no signs saying that the ruins couldn't be climbed so the kids all raced to the top only to be whistled at by a hidden security watchman on the other side!
At the end of our walk we ended up at a 'restaurant' near lake Huacarpay. I say 'restaurant' because it appeared more to be a group of swatters who were willing to cook fish and pasta for us in their tin-barrel barbecue for a fee. It took a long time (which they did warn us of beforehand!) but it was very yummy and we had a gorgeous view over the lake meanwhile!
Caves above Sacsayhuaman:
You might remember from the last post that one of the things Joel wanted to do in Cusco was to explore some caves. On our last full day in Cusco the Browns took us to the caves above the ruin of Sacsayhuaman above Cusco. The kids loved running in and out of the tunnels and we found one cave with a climb out through a small hole that we all tried. Thankfully the hole was larger than it looked from the inside! Not too much squeezing through!
Mark loved climbing over the rocks and finding different tunnels and at one point we lost Mark and Roland as they found a more extensive cave which they went off to explore. (Shouting and phoning them was useless when they were underground!).
Apparently there are some caves (which we didn't find!) that go all the way into the centre of Cusco which is several miles away. The caves definitely sparked some adventure in Mark and the eldest two boys! (Personally a short cave was enough for me!)
Have you ever heard of the book Roxaboxen? It is a sweet children's tale about a group of neighborhood children who build an imaginary town on top of a mound in their neighborhood and all the imaginary adventures they get up to in it. (I recommend it - the children loved it!) Whilst we waited for Roland and Mark to emerge from the caves the children played on top of one of the rock mounds and it reminded me of the story and how nature can so easily become the starting point for inspiration and imaginative play.