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Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

Cusco, Peru
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Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

Since moving to the Cusco region approximately a year ago, we have had the opportunity to make numerous visits to all most all of the sites in and around Cusco. During these visits we are often within close proximity to tour groups and can often hear what the guides are saying.

One of the interesting things that we have noticed is the variety of explanations given by different guides. For example, in Ollantaytambo there are two faces that are often pointed out on the mountain across from the main site. While the largest of these that is near the storehouses, or qollqas in Quechua, seems to always be referred to as the Inca god Wiracocha. The other face (profile) near the top left of the mountains seems to be attributed to a few different people including the Inca Pachacuti.

We have herd that these faces are natural formations as well as manmade, and we have herd several accounts as to what some of the buildings and fountains were used for. While the overall information relayed by the guides seems to agree, there are those bits that I believe they just don’t have answers for, and rather than saying “we don’t know” or offering up a few theories, they tend to offer up one theory as if it were fact.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think the guides at the sites have a lot of valuable information to offer, and I don’t mean this to be a guide bashing post. I just think that those that do hire a guide while visiting the sites, should take what the guide says with a grain of salt, and consider that some of what is being offered may be more opinion than fact.

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

We wondered about some of that when we were there. One item that was especially funny was the plant, muna. We used several tour guides at various stops. They almost all pointed out when they found it growing. And we got a wide variety of explanations as to what it can be used for. Apparently it cures altitude sickness, is good for the stomach, is a good insect repellent, and probably other things I'm forgetting. If it did everything the guides told us, we would not need any other medicines or herbs at all.

We still liked having the local guides and would hire them again if we went back.

Edited: 11 September 2013, 18:39
2. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

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Cusco, Peru
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4,238 posts
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3. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

Thanks for the input wes032, it has been amusing and one of these days maybe I will write down some of the things so I can remember them all. Don’t think I have heard any talking about muna, but you are right, seems like every time the wife or I is feeling sick, or sore, or tired or almost anything else, one of our neighbors recommends muna, must be like castor oil.

Ica, Peru
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4. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

The people in the Cuzco region are very superstitious, they still have ritual animal sacrifices of guinea pigs ( known as pagos a la tierra) in order to bring good luck to business, and many people believe in witchcraft in order to get people to love you or get revenge on your enemies, so I am not surprised they believe in these folk home remedies that are not supported by science. But as Peru modernizes and science education improves, these beliefs will diminish I think.

Edited: 11 September 2013, 23:22
Cusco, Peru
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5. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

Don’t forget about offering the first drink to Paca Mama, especially with chicha.

New York
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for Moscow
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6. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

Don't forget the Inkas did not have a written language so v little reliable info exists. Such as what was MP's original name, why it was built to begin with, or what happened there. It is all mostly speculation.

Cusco, Peru
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7. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

Yes, and it would be great if all of the guides would offer that information, unfortunately some don’t and only offer up one theory and imply that it is fact.

jersey
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8. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

Unfortunately, when the Spanish took over Latin America they killed many wise people with it historical knowledge. That means that we have lost understanding of many aspects of Incan life and now can only guess.

Lima, Peru
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for Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Peru
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9. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

Read this : Minthostachys setosa – From the temperate zones of South America, this medium-sized herbaceous plant is an excellent carminative (dispels gas accumulation in the stomach) and general aid to the digestive system for stomach acid, indigestion, bacterial diarrhea, colic, as an anthelmintic (removes parasites), and an aphrodisiac. It is antispasmodic and anti-infl ammatory. It has also been used traditionally, to regulate menstruation, nervous trembling, and heart beat, to clean the intestines, reduce fever, and reduce swelling. Muna was used by the Incas for respiratory problems when drank with honey. It serves as a bronchial dilator and expectorant, making it an excellent alternative for the treatment of bronchial asthma. Recent studies show it to be effective against Chagas Disease, most common to South America, but now rarely found in North America.

More information can be found at : amazonhub.com/Herbs/muna-amazon-cures.html

Maybe the guides do know what they are talking about ?

jersey
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10. Re: Tour Guides and a Grain of Salt.

Yes the guides may be knowledgeable, but imagine the wealth of knowledge and understanding we could benefit from if these wise Incans weren't destroyed as they were. For instance they knew about the use of healing medicines a long time before Western man invaded. Lot's of that knowledge has been lost or supressed. Only today are people accepting that they destroyed a great civilization that was perhaps more advanced than they could ever have believed.

Edited: 12 September 2013, 13:47