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2014-10-09_13:29:43_543671a7c3d57

21 In the empire of the Incas “Navel of the World” – that is how the Incas called Cusco, the capital of their Andes empire. Countless relics of its long past bear witness to a society that was highly developed, both tech- nologically and culturally, before it fell victim to the Spanish colonialism in the 16th centu- ry. Numerous churches, palaces and buildings from the Spanish era collapsed as a result of frequent earthquakes, yet many more sturdily built Incas temples survived both earthquakes and the destructive frenzy of the conquerors and still stand today. We take a bus economico (“cheap bus”) to Cusco. It’s certainly dirt cheap, at around three euros a journey, but dirt is the operative word, as our nos- trils are assaulted by a heady mix of sweat, coca and various other unidentified stenches. It’s one way of learning the meaning of fear, with part- ly missing window panes and screeching brakes at freezing 4,400m altitudes, as the bus rattles around hair-raising hairpins. After 16 hours of this ordeal, only the sight of the fellow Indians help keep our composure. Somehow they mana- ge to spend the whole journey sitting, standing or lying in a fixed position in the aisle of the vehicle, and they even have a couple of llamas with them. Arriving at Cusco we meet up with Hernan – an acquaintance of former travels – to his home villa- ge, where he hopes to visit this family. By a lucky chance there happens to be an authentic market in progress. It’s a far fling from the tourist contri- vances of Cusco: I get chatting with some women from the market over a chicha (maize beer). They talk about their national costumes and show their home-made caps, ponchos and scarves; among them is a particularly striking cap embroidered with thousands of pearls, the fruit of two months of work. Suddenly the market is over: the shoppers stream away, stalls are cleared away and the street traders disappear in their ramshackle trucks. They’ll reassemble the market stalls in the next village, five kilometres away, in an hour’s time – all part of the system of serving a network of settlements, and it makes the market viable economically. It’s a way of life for the market traders, who trudge after the caravan from village to village to chat, to meet friends and relatives, and to do business. After spending a few days in the former Inca capital Cuzco, we decide to hike the Inca Trail, also known as the Camino del Inca and the most trekked route in the Andes. It was laid out 500 years ago by the Incas and leads to the eye-ope- ning remains of Machu Picchu, Peru’s best-known sight. The 50-kilometre route over the mountains is testing stuff, with three major passes to tackle and altitudes of up to 4,200 metres. In this rugged, wildlife-rich world of the moun- tains, glaciers and forest, we learn of tales of the Inca culture. We climb up from the relatively In the empire of the Incas Chapter 2 Angekommen in Cusco fahren wir mit Hernan – ein Bekannter von früheren Reisen – in sein Heimatdorf, wo er seine Familie besuchen möch- te. Zufällig findet dort gerade einer der seltenen Märkte statt. Dieser Markt ist authentisch und nicht für Touristen „hergemacht“. So stehen wir Gringos etwas verloren herum. Im touristischen Cusco wäre diese Situation undenkbar und wir brauchen etwas Zeit, um uns im „Originalperu“ einzufinden. Ich trinke mit den Marktweibern etwas Chicha (Maisbier) und wir kommen zu- mindest ansatzweise ins Gespräch. Sie erzählen von ihren Trachten und zeigen ihre selbstgefertig- ten Mützen, Ponchos und Schals. Für eine beson- ders schöne, mit vielen Tausend Perlen bestickte Mütze hat eine Frau zwei Monate gearbeitet. Meine Anproben führen zu allgegenwärtigem Spaß, sodass das Eis bald vollends gebrochen ist. Zu guter Letzt bekomme ich sogar ein halbes Cuy (Meerschweinchen) als Mittagessen geschenkt. Ganz plötzlichist jedoch alles vorbei. Alle strömen weg vom Markt, alle Stände sind in wenigen Minuten fortgeräumt und die fliegenden Händ- ler verschwinden mit ihren klapprigen LKWs bergauf. Der Markt hier ist beendet. Im nächsten Dorf, fünf Kilometer weiter, wird der Markt dann in einer Stunde fortgesetzt. Auf diese Art und Weise können mehrere Dörfer und die jeweils umliegenden Höfe von den fliegenden Händlern bedient werden. Für ein einziges Dorf würde sich die Anfahrt nicht lohnen. Die Leute sind damit auch zufrieden und trotten der Karawane von Dorf zu Dorf hinterher, um zu schwatzen, Freunde und Verwandte zu treffen und um Geschäfte zu machen.

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