Solbit Says, “Another Inca ruin in Peru?”

Dear Nicalai,

We’re still in Peru, and I wondered why.  We’ve been here so long already.  “Where are we going next?” I asked Nona, and I meant what country was next.  (She’s our travel planner you know.  Well, cousins Tom & Susie help too, but Papa and I are no help at all.  So, that’s why I never bother to ask Papa where we’re going.)

Anyway, Nona replied, “Solbit, I want you to think ‘Pisac rocks,’ because we’re going to Pisac to see big piles of rocks.  Oh, girl, I knew that Pisac is in Peru, too, so we’re staying here. For what? To see a pile of rocks! Who would do that?

I told her, “I know you’re just pulling my little plastic Jurassic leg, Nona. Please tell me where are we really going and what are we going to see.”  She said, “Really, Solbit, just think ‘Pisac’ and ‘rocks.’”

Well, here we are! Pisac and rocks …

If you want to see the Inca ruins at Pisac, then you want to climb some step paths and stairways -- rocky in some places, too.

If you want to see the Inca ruins at Pisac, then you want to climb some step paths and stairways — rocky in some places, too.

Pisac is in The Sacred Valley of Peru. It is rocky, but hundreds of years ago people did amazing things with those rocks.  They turned them into beautiful building materials.  You might even say art. Just look at this window.

After 500 years, a few earthquakes, and pilfering by people, some of this Inca stone work still looks good.

After 500 years, a few earthquakes, and pilfering by people, some of this Inca stone work still looks good.

Isn’t it beautiful in its simplicity, geometric shape, and fine crafting? Wow, I couldn’t make something like that.  Could you?   Papa said, “That’s Inca stone work for you, Solbit.”  Actually, it wasn’t for me. It was for the Incas and hundreds of years ago, but I didn’t correct Papa.  Didn’t want to embarrass him, you know.

Exploring these steep hills to see these ruins makes for hard work and tough decisions.  Here’s a photo of Papa trying to make one of those tough decisions.

That's Papa asking himself, "Do I want to climb another steep hill to that lookout?" Answer: "Nope." But cousin Tom did.

That’s Papa asking himself, “Do I want to climb another steep hill to that lookout?” Answer: “Nope.” But cousin Tom did.

Nona made an interesting observation, “You know, Solbit, usually we think modern ways are better than the old ways, and, of course, often they are, but not always.  Just look at that wall ahead to see what I mean.”

On that back wall, you can see that the old Inca way of laying stones (bottom layer) is much better than the new way.

On that back wall, you can see that the old Inca way of laying stones (bottom layer) is much better than the new way.

Papa added, “Yes, that Inca stone work is a lost art.”  What? It’s not lost. It’s right there in front of me.  I can see it.   Still, I didn’t correct Papa.  It wouldn’t have been polite, would it? We’re off to yet another place in Peru.  Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

July 2016

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit wonders, “What’s a salt pan?”

Dear Nicalai,

When Nona told Papa and me that we would go to see the Maras Salt Pans today, I asked her, “Why would someone make pans out of salt? That’s just crazy!”

Salt. You know, I’m talking about that white gritty stuff in the little shaker on the table that Papa isn’t suppose to use because of his blood pressure.  Well, actually, nobody should be adding extra salt to food.  I learned that reading the New York Times Science Section with Papa.  Yeah, most food and beverages already have all the salt you need and more.  Oops. There I go wandering away from my story.  Let’s get back to the nutty idea of “salt pans.”

Well, I found out that salt pans aren’t actually pans made of salt. No, salt pans are wide, flat, depressions in the ground that hold salt water.

Well, I found out that salt pans aren’t actually pans made of salt. No, salt pans are wide, flat, depressions in the ground that hold salt water.

You can see in that photo (above) that the “pans” look like little ponds, except the water isn’t blue.  It’s sort of white.  Why white?  Because salt is sort of white.

Doesn’t it look as though the salt pans (the ponds) are tumbling downhill? What a site!

Doesn’t it look as though the salt pans (the ponds) are tumbling downhill? What a site!

Each salt pan is used by one family that lives in this area. There’s a long waiting list of families that want a salt pan of their own, too. I don’t think our family ever thought of getting a salt pan, did they?

We saw a few families collecting salt from their pans. where the water had evaporated.  Yeah, that’s how they make salt. First they fill up the pan with salty water that comes from a spring in the ground.

When the pond is full of water, someone puts that stone in the little water channel to block any more water from coming into a salt pan. Then the salt making begins.

When the pond is full of water, someone puts that stone in the little water channel to block any more water from coming into a salt pan. Then the salt making begins.

The sun does most of the work making the salt.  The warmth of the sun evaporates the water. As the water disappears, the salt appears as tiny crystals, and those crystals pile up.

The family in charge of a salt pan does most of the work collecting the salt.  When the water is all gone from the salt pan. The family just goes into the pan, scoops up the salt, and puts it into big bags to carry it away.  They can use it, and they can sell it.

That’s Nona taking a photo of the salt pqns, but she didn’t just take one.  She took millions of photos from every angle. She didn’t care about the salt. She just loved the look of the salt pans, the patterns.  I do too.

That’s Nona taking a photo of the salt pans, but she didn’t just take one.  She took millions of photos from every angle. She didn’t care about the salt. She just loved the look of the salt pans, the patterns.  I do too.

Well, of course, I’m just exaggerating how many photos she took. Maybe it was only a thousand.  Anyway, I thought we’d never leave.  So did Papa.  He sat down on a bench, and I’m pretty sure he fell asleep sitting up.  He doesn’t like to miss his naps.  Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

July 2016

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

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Solbit has problems with Ollantaytambo

Dear Nicalai,

Ollantaytambo.  You just try to say that with the proper Spanish pronunciation, and you’ll understand my problem.  I just can’t say it right.  I think I’m supposed to say something like “Oh-Yawn-Tay-Tom-Bo,” but, whenever I say it, the local people just stare at me and not because I’m a plastic jurassic.  I know that stare. It says, “What did you just say?”

If you think the line of people going up is on an escalator, you would be wrong, like I was. Nope, they're climbing stairs, a lot of them.

If you think the line of people going up is on an escalator, you would be wrong, like I was. Nope, they’re climbing stairs, a lot of them.

Even though I can’t tell you how to say “Ollantaytambo,” I can tell you that it is an ancient town — a ruins —  in the Sacred Vally of Peru, and you really want to go see it sometime — even though you have to climb a lot of old stone stairs to see it.

Imagine that you have no bulldozer, no motorized cranes, no jack-hammers, just hand tools. Now imagine using your hands and those hand tools to make this place out of rock!

Imagine that you have no bulldozer, no motorized cranes, no jack-hammers, just hand tools. Now imagine using your hands and those hand tools to make this place out of rock!

Ollantaytambo is the place where the Incas resisted the Spanish conquistadors and won, at least for a little while.  That was a long time ago, even way before Papa was born and he’s really old. Eventually, the Spanish conquered them. Of course, eventually, somebody made the Spanish leave. Seems like they had one war after another. Papa is always telling me that, whatever the problem or whatever the question, war is not the answer, because it just causes a lot of suffering.

I know that war isn't good for anybody, but something else is good for everybody: water! We need to protect water.

I know that war isn’t good for anybody, but something else is good for everybody: water! We need to protect water.

I noticed that here in Ollantaytambo, and also at Machu Picchu, the Incas had systems for running water all through their towns. How smart!

Look up there on the mountain above the town. Do you see those buildings? That's where the Inca stored food supplies.

Look up there on the mountain above the town. Do you see those buildings? That’s where the Inca stored food supplies.

The Inca grew a lot of food on the terraces and then kept their extra supply of food in storage buildings, called granaries. They seemed to think of everything … except the coming of the Spanish who wanted the Inca’s gold — all of it. I wonder why didn’t they just buy it instead of stealing it from the Inca?

I have to go to bed now because we’re getting up really early tomorrow.  Poor Nona. She won’t be able to read in bed all morning, but that’s one of the prices of travel.  Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

signature

 

 

 

 

Solbit

July 2016

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit wonders, “What does ‘Machu Picchu’ mean?”

Dear Nicalai,

We just got back from a place called “Machu Picchu.”  With a name like that, I wondered, “What does that mean?” So, I looked it up.  No big deal. It’s Quechuan for “old peak.”

"Old Peak" doesn't begin to describe what we saw at Machu Picchu, the ruins of an Inca estate.

“Old Peak” doesn’t begin to describe what we saw at Machu Picchu, the ruins of an Inca estate.

On the other hand, Machu Picchu really is A BIG DEAL.  Trust me. I know. I just got back from there. I went with Nona and Papa and cousins Susie and Tom.

Wow! Walking around Machu Picchu is so much fun because I can imagine living here 500 years ago when the place was "open for business."

Wow! Walking around Machu Picchu is so much fun because I can imagine living here 500 years ago when the place was “open for business.”

The Inca people built this place around the year 1450 CE, before the Europeans (Spaniards) came to South America and took over.  If you could see the amazing big polished stones, the way the stones were placed to prevent earthquake damage, and the way the stones fit together tightly without out any cement, you would know that those ancient people really knew how to make things.

I think that Uncle Josh and Aunt Tanya would have loved this place, because the gardening terraces are right by the houses.

I think that Uncle Josh and Aunt Tanya would have loved this place, because the gardening terraces are right by the houses.

Papa kept saying, “I’m just amazed at the amount of human labor it would have taken to make this place and then to maintain it and to grow food too.” I kept asking Papa, “How did they move these big stones into place?”  He didn’t know.  I guess I have to do more reading about Machu Picchu to learn how they did it. Papa told me to read a book, Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams, but that’s a grown-ups’ book, and I’m just a beginner reader.  “You can do it, Solbit,” Papa encouraged me.

Nona kept taking pictures of the doorways at Machu Picchu. I think she wants to put these into her next apartment -- the shape not the heavy rocks.

Nona kept taking pictures of the doorways at Machu Picchu. I think she wants to put these into her next apartment — the shape not the heavy rocks.

While the shape of the doorways is pleasing to my eye, I’m gonna guess that the reason the Incas (or their Wari Wari “contractors”) used the shape had to do with earthquake safety.  I’m just guessing, of course. We left late in the afternoon to go back to our hotel in town.

We got back to the town near Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes (that means “hot water”) also known now as Machu Picchu Pueblo, just in time for a parade at night of local people in traditional outfits. Wow!

We got back to the town near Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes (that means “hot water”) also known now as Machu Picchu Pueblo, just in time for a parade at night of local people in traditional outfits. Wow!

For an “old peak” Machu Picchu sure has a lot to offer.  We’re going back up there again tomorrow. There’s just so much to see that we couldn’t do it in just one day. Nona says I have to go to bed now, because we have a long day tomorrow at Machu Picchu. Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

signature

 

 

 

Solbit

July 2016

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”