The Islands of the Inca

 
Iñak Uyu
 

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1517 Iñak Uyu

For we are here at Iñak Uyu,  the house of the chosen Virgins, we are honoured to have been taken from our families to live our cloistered life in this place. I am alone at the moment, imprisoned in my room and instructed to present my offerings in the niches in the walls and to consider my fate, the fate that has been chosen for me. Soon I will be permitted to interact with the other blessed virgins, but I must accept my honour and not try to run away. For I am chosen, my family are honoured, I will be sacrificed to inti, our god of the sun in order for him to protect my family and my people.

2017 Iñak Uyu
We arrive on the Isla de la Luna by boat from Isla del Sol. The waters are very choppy and there’s a precarious few minutes whilst Juan (not Boris as we thought previously) attempts to position the boat by the jetty. He has brought Mrs Juan and Junior Juan (Oscar) to assist. Both Mr and Mrs Juan have silver teeth replacing several of their original ones. Oscar wears a woollen hat that covers his ears, has bright red cheeks and says very little. He occasionally smiles and gives us a thumbs up.
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We walk up to the temple of Iñak Uyu and buy a few friendship bracelets to keep the local economy ticking by. Ximena explains the history and use of the temple. Whilst we are there two hippies come and sit in the centre of the open space. It’s looks like they are deep in some sort of spiritual experience. As Ximena speaks they turn and stare at us intently. Eventually they ask if they can hitch a ride back in our boat to the other Island. They say they’ve been stranded on the Isla de la Luna for two days as no one will take them. They appear drug addled and dangerous. Ximena politely explains that they will not be joining our boat.
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2017 Elsewhere in the World
Our hotel has no internet currently and there’s no 3G or 4G on the islands to allow for data connections. Being an ‘ecolodge,’ luxuries like a TV or radio are also non existent. We are therefore completely oblivious to what is happening in the outside world.
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The Sacred Rock and Chinkana
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1517 The Sacred Rock and Chinkana
I have been brought to the sacred rock and I am looking into the bearded face of our Devine God, Viracocha, for it was he who rose from the depths of the lake to travel here during the times of flood and darkness and to command that the sun made its first appearance. For it was he also that on this spot created my forbearers, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo and our great Incan empire was born.
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The priests of Chinkana are coming now from their labyrinth. They will soon perform the ritual to which I have been chosen and my family honoured. They will take me to the sacrifice alter to please our sun god Inti and I will soon inhabit a better and more abundantly provided for world. 
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2017 The Sacred Rock and Chinkana
After a 1 1/2 hour boat journey across the rough lake waters we arrive at the north end of the Isla del Sol shaken and a bit unsteady on our feet. We climb the 200m up to the offering place of the Inca. There is a large rock which apparently contains the face of the god Viracocha and where he brought forth the sun after a great flood and darkness had descended over the Incan empire. There is also  a stone table where human sacrifices took place that is surrounded by stone chairs in a circle – like a mini Stonehenge.
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Next to it is a labyrinth of rooms and walls that housed the religious priests. Ximena takes it one herself to police the whole area. The government in Bolivia does not fund archeological sites so even these which are probably the most important sites in the Bolivian Inca culture have no signs or explanations and certainly no personnel to watch them. Argentinians and Peruvians clamber on the rock and table, waving their half empty coke bottle over their head or sit on the walls in the priest’s building. Each offence annoys Ximena more and soon she is shouting at them to get down, arguing with them to have respect and saying to one Peruvian who has the audacity to say he’s paid to come here that she wouldn’t behave like him when she goes to Macchu Pichu. 
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2017 Elsewhere in the World
It seems that the rest of the world has descended on the northern tip of the Isla del Sol. Like the Incas before them they have made the pilgrimage along the Inca Trail from one end of the Island to the other. Bolivians, Peruvians, Argentians, Americans and one guy wearing a Coventry FC shirt all pass by us as they head to visit the monuments.
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The Inca Steps
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1517 The Inca Steps
Our pilgrimage is reaching its end, we have traversed the island with the other faithful and soon we will descend the steps to our raft and our journey home. We have witnessed the sacrifice and pray that Inti is happy and will protect us from the powers of the earth. Before we descend we will take the waters of the fountain of youth and promise Inti to be faithful to his guidance- we will not steal, we will not lie and we will not be lazy. 
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2017 The Inca Steps
Another 1 1/2 hour boat journey back to Yumina in the south of the Isla del Sol and we are feeling wretched. We see the two hippies from the Isla de la Luna hungrily eating lunch outside the boat jetty shop. We climb the steps, take photos at the fountain and head further up the hill. Mark feels sea-sick and I can barely breath. Any walking, especially up hill leaves me short of breath. We get back to our room and collapse onto the bed, sleeping solidly for two hours.
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2017 Elsewhere in the World
We still have no idea what’s happening elsewhere in the world but assume that in Washington DC President Elect Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Maybe, just maybe it’s better not knowing. 
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Liam, Isla de la Luna & Isla del Sol, Lake Titikaka, Bolivia, 20 January 2017
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