–In Santa Rosa de Tastil, a small town in Salta where I live at the foot of the ruins of an original town of 3,000 people, 18 families were actually against. Gabawhat Ñan -the system Andean road from Peru through Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Chile — To be declared a World Heritage Site. UNESCO said tourism was coming, and we asked them, “If there’s no toilet or water, except the ditch, how are we going to take care of it?” But the province brought us water and good toilets. On a hill just above our houses is an ancient city of stones; There we went to look for the boys’ sheep; Our grandparents told us that we don’t have to touch anything, it’s sacred. We knew not what it was, but we felt it was ours; My ancestors are there. When they explained to us what those constructs were, we began to see them differently. With the UNESCO declaration, it became clear to us that we could take better care of them. We were changing the perspective and they came to consult us before doing anything: that changed everything. Now I am a fighter of the GABA programwhat i, This caused them to formalize our social ownership of the lands,” says Manolo Copa, a soon-to-be-retired teacher, referring to the Qhapaq Ñan Board of Indigenous Peoples of Argentina.
Manolo Coba and Claudia Herrera–from the Huarpe Guatamari community in Mendoza– Provincial and municipal heritage directors and archaeologists from seven Argentine provinces have arrived in areas selected by UNESCO for the first federal walk – on June 22 in the Capac An area between the Famatina mountains at 3,100 altitude – on June 22. Its protection: Salta, La Rioja, Jujuy, Mendoza, San Juan, Catamarca and Tucumán. There are the directors of the National Institute of Anthropology and Latin American Thought (INAPL) –a dependency of the nation’s Ministry of Culture– promoting the project since 2009 — the declaration was achieved in 2014– and Progress in preparing everything for the advent of responsible tourismHere in La Rioja it has already started from the town of Famadina.
Today’s plan – the reader can repeat it with a guide approved by the Directorate of Municipal Tourism – is this walk 3.5 Kilometers along this venal route to Latin America. Starting point RP 78 –28 km past Tres Piedras. There, the Two Representatives of the Board of Aboriginal Peopleswith Roberto Zumbicha-Casic Diaquita from La Rioja, Lead the previous ritual of dimming the environment with cacao leaves steaming in a pot: “We raise our hands to the east; we ask the defenders of this place to walk their path, so that they can enlighten us in this federal walk,” says Claudia Herrera.
Once the connection to Pachamama is opened, the trail itself – an animated lesson in the Andean worldview – begins the downward walk.
At 3,100 meters, Manolo Copa continues as if nothing has happened: “All my life I have walked through the Gabbawhat Me! This is a direct path: Here lies the soul of our grandparents; Everything is alive here, even the road; We asked for permission before entering; One speaks to him and we have a good relationship with the spirits.
–Qhapaq Ñan never stopped being used — says Gopa– HeWe have been supporting you since before the arrival of the Inca. We don’t call it the “Inca Trail”: It was long before they arrived in this area in 1450; We’re not collas—collazuyu is the name the Inca gave us for the southern region—but delicious. The Incas took over and developed these routes. But they have been here for less than a century, which means nothing. I walk through Capac An from Thistle to La Mesada, a 7-hour journey, with mules loaded with merchandise, to visit relatives. And we know the techniques of bouldering to lay the path. Once an expert came from abroad to restore our Qhapaq Ñan region. After five days she left: she saw that we were fixing everything better than her, and she had nothing to contribute. We have pirqueado for the rest of our lives! You look at the stone and you know whether it will work for you or not; The flat ones “face the morning sun”–they heat up first and leave–and the round ones “face in.” We build stone corrals, no wire here.
Diakita all over the world
As he progressed through these mountains,ifies that he continues to cultivate the same Andean papains in Salta, now in La Rioja, which was the world of Diaquitas, he continues to cultivate the same Andean papains that his ancestors did: “We started to irrigate in July and we left. A lot of water so that at night it freezes; this is how we kill all insects without herbicides”.
–Have you always felt the hustle?
–I didn’t say “I’m toast” like I do now. As we grow up, we realize that we are the original people.
–And know you’re native?
No, I don’t think those things. I simply existed, I lived. After that we started realizing that our way of planting and way of thinking and living is different. and the relationship with the land; Our life is very simple, different from yours.
After a 20-minute walk, archaeologist Sergio Martin stops the group and gives a master class in the middle of an amphitheater of mountains half-hidden by low clouds:
–The strip of Qhapaq Ñan we are going to is only 3 meters wide, but in other places it is up to 14 meters. There are no roads here: they cleared the vegetation and rocks and defined the path with two parallel stones. Our hypothesis is that this area was created to connect two high mountain temples where pilgrimages, offerings and sacrifices were made.
The scientist asks us to follow him for another 500 meters, stopping at a spot where two sacred mountains can be seen: Oro -5,971 meters- and General Belgrano -6,050 meters–:
–Notice that a new typology appears here, A double lane, two parallel lanes, one next to the other, does not have a useful logic. Why build two roads next to each other following the same route? The hypothesis is that they were ritual paths where walkers stopped to pray before ascending to the two towering shrines. Very few places in Qhapaq Ñan have dual carriageways, here is another peculiarity: Of the 228 high-altitude sanctuaries identified in Tawantinsuyu, no two are close to each other, separated by 10 kilometers.
This part of the corridor is always in a straight line in a plane between the two mountain ranges. The archaeologist points out a huanga, a pink rock placed in the center of the road like a landmark, surrounded by other smaller ones in a circle. They would be pilgrimage stations, where hikers going up would stop to make offerings: “From here we see the summit of Negro Oro”.
Later, Martin points out a slope, leveling an artificial slope to mitigate it, a technique used to facilitate walking at the top of the Holy Mountains, where it’s much colder and less oxygen. Fragments of Inca pottery appear on the ground, and the archaeologist warns not to touch anything. Kilometers of straight line turns sinuous and runs along the course of a small dry stream that revives with the rains, where the Incas built a meter-long stone cliff, between which the accumulation of embedded stones filters the water: it helps to walk. It has stood for half a millennium, motorless, on top of it without getting wet.
The trail borders the Achhail River and gorges between giant rocks. The archaeologist found flakes on the ground – stone blades – and a jagged chert artifact, camouflaged in sparse tall grasses. Tens of thousands of people have settled here over thousands of years.
The Incas walked on high
At the end of the walk, Archaeologist Christian Vitry —Director General of Defense and Research of Salta– This explains that the Inca spatial concept was different from the West, who built roads in the lower part of the valleys from the time of the Roman Empire. There was a tendency in the European world to live and farm on “low” land: the conquerors saw the mountain as an obstacle.
In the Andes -Vitri explains- this played against them: “They traveled down and the adivasis attacked from above. That is why it was difficult to capture them with resistance in some parts of the North West for more than a century. In the original worldview, the lower region and the plains — the Tingu — were places of exchange and provision. Oak trees and sanares grew that yielded wood and fruit. They farmed on the slopes, leveling the land with farm terraces. Much sacrifice was made to build roads at high altitudes, but in the lowlands they were destroyed by rains and landslides: thanks to which they survive to this day. These stones were placed under our feet 500 years ago and have never been moved.
For the Italian architect Francesco Carreri, the path is the most perfect architecture, the best: “it disappears when you stop using it”. This is not the case with Qhapaq Ñan: being a high pass, vegetation never covers it. And it is so simple and at the same time so complex that if there is no obvious industry to destroy it –hard labor– it is designed to last forever.
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