Actually, I say we know 'lots' about them, but we don't really, but then nobody does. You see, the Incas didn't bother writing anything down and they were only around for 80 years. But in that 80 years, they did LOTS – a massive amount of building and a fair bit of conquering. It once took me four years just to finish a book.
The Incas' time was up when the Spanish arrived and took a fancy to Cusco and that was that.
They also built lots of impressive temples, which, by all accounts were the setting for some pretty raucous fiestas – there really is nothing like sacrificing a Guinea pig on top of a mountain to get a party started.
But we have learnt that there were quite a few things that the Incas weren't good at. Despite spending ages cutting rocks the size of cars into intricate shapes so they fit snugly in a wall, they never realised that they could save a lot of time and effort if they used wood instead.
In fact, when the Spaniards turned up in Cusco and, after pillaging a few temples, started erecting buildings with wooden vaulted ceilings, you could easily imagine the newly-conquered Incas saying: “Oooooh, that's how you do it, we've spent 80 years trying to figure that out.”
To be brutally honest, I'm not sure there is anything commonly used in society now that we can thank the Incas for. Apart from perhaps pan-pipes, which as well as being effortlessly soothing, are used here in Peru to cover songs from pretty much any type of musical genre.
But what the Incas did appreciate the importance of location, location, location, and Machu Picchu, which we visited the other day, is the best of the lot, at the top of a misty, mysterious mountain. We went up at 6am and for a couple of glorious minutes we were three of only a few dozen people on the site. It's a place which is full of intrigue and has a backdrop which is perhaps the most spectacula
Bad points about Machu Picchu were the lack of toilets, meaning a hasty dash down the hill to entrance gate to take a leak, and the jobsworth site staff who told us that eating is not allowed on the site. Quite how enjoying a chicken salad sandwich is detrimental to the preservation of the jewel in the Inca empire's crown is beyond me. Thankfully, as I've mentioned, there are plenty of hiding places in Machu Picchu so we found somewhere to have our packed lunch.
My Dad is with us for a few more days, it has been so good to have him here with us to share a little bit of our trip. Next weekend Stacey's parents touch down, so we'll stay here in Cusco for a few days before heading off to lake Titicaca.