ALBORADA - SAYRI ÑAN

6.13.2012

THE INCA BRIDGE






"The adventurer looked up, eager to plant the flag on the high of the Aconcagua. He was to ten steps of the "Cementerio de los Andinistas" (1) and could feel the hopelessness that perpetuates the history of those who  fall without flying the flag of their country; buried there, as attested by the unpreparedness, irresponsibility or bad luck . He tried not to think, he avoided to feel. His foot was planted on the ground with strenght, in a desperate attempt to see  himself bigger than the act. The guide approached calmly with a smile and an apology. Today, they would not anywhere. The weather changed quickly, again, it would be impossible to reach the top in the coming days. He tried to reply, fell silent, immediately, remembering the cemetery. He was comforted by the guide: he would not face yet the icy wind of the mountain but... he (the guide) would show him the secrets and mysteries of the Inca Bridge... "


On the way to Las Cuevas (border with Chile), we find one of the most famous resorts of Argentina. The bathing in these waters are recommended for various diseases and natural features of the region rivaling with the mystery of its legends... to enchant us...


In 1965, a devastating avalanche destroyed the beautiful Hotel Puente del Inca who had previously survived many disasters. It was solid building, sumptuous, with underground access to the thermal baths - in this area emerge the hot springs, mineral, that bubble without stopping ... The evidences of the slip are still there, revealing a cascade of rocks that rolled abruptly to the valley ... Fortunately, guests and staff, were "miraculously" saved, by taking shelter in the little church that remained intact and can still be seen today.



Located in the andean Cordillera, 2720 meters above sea level, the Puente del Inca (Inca Bridge) is famous for being a natural bridge, unique in the world, declared a Natural Monument. It seems that was formed by the action of the waters excessively minerals, and by the action of thermal waters in the sediments put in the bottom of a cavity. Due to them, the color orange, yellow, ocher, tints the whole area, and any object that you puts under them remains so much impregnated with the minerals that acquires an appearance of stone. 


On the right bank, the famous termal Baths, with five sources of the same type but of different temperatures and components. Surrounded by mountains, the landscape stretching, tens of meters below the bridge, on the river waters Las Cuevas...



(Forty-seven feet long by twenty-eight wide, on the Rio Las Cuevas. Called Inca Bridge because the Inca nobility used its medicinal hot springs that flow from the pools under it.)
















The history of the Bridge begins with the Inca Trail and its legends...






It is assumed that the Incas have taken advantage of its waters with healing properties. His fame is rightly due mainly to its thermal baths. Existing buildings, beside and under the bridge, as small pools by where flow the thermal waters, originated from natural sources with temperatures ranging between 34 and 38 degrees. The baths are recommended for nervous system disorders, rheumatic diseases, gynecological treatment, children with anemia, rickets and arthritis.

The area is ideal for adventure tourism, mountain climbing, horseback riding and snow sports.

Nearby is the "Cerro Los Penientes", so called because its great walls of stone, seen from the distance, look like huge monks in procession. 

From the bridge, when the sun shines the dawn in shades absolutely golden, revealing the rock stalactites, there is a magical world that takes us ... by drawing fluid rainbow in the water and ice, suggesting connotations fantastic in nature that has always made the place sacred to the Incas ... 

The place name comes from a legend ... 


A long, long time ago... long before the arrival of the Spaniards...











THE LEGEND OF THE INCA BRIDGE



The successor of the Inca Empire was gravely ill. He was a wise and just prince, like his father, and everyone loved him very much. In whole Tahuantinsuyo all people prayed to the gods by making sacrifices and offerings for his health. But the prince only got worse and all feared that his death put at risk the future of the Empire. By consulting the Amautas (2), they were told that the prince would recover health if he could bathe in the waters of a certain place, far away toward the south, between the rocks and mountains of the Cordillera. There, they said, sprang a water can cure all diseases.





However, to getting there, they should traverse distances, deserts and climb mountains. Wasting no time, the Inca ordered to prepare an entourage to accompany the prince and departed the morning of Cusco, in search of great waters. At dawn, they followed by the road - with many llamas, laden with food and everything necessary for such a long journey. Despite concerns about the prince, the trip provided them to find a part of Tahuantinsuyo that left them delighted.


The long trip led them by the abrupt mountains, peaceful valleys, desert fields and lush meadows, rivers, streams, moonlit nights and days of gold and light. For days and days were on the way, sharing with nature and their gods a unique experience.

By day the sun gave them all the shades of green and colorful of many exotic flowers, the greatness and the splendor of nature snatched them. At night, the spectra of giant mountains put them before the unknown with astonishment - noises and sounds as if the land talked to them with a voice that only they could understand, repeating the echo on the cliffs, in the vastness of the valleys...

Then, as an announcement that they were near the goal, they stopped, paralyzed by the sight of the mountain more beautiful and mysterious that they had seen. They were in front of the Aconcagua, the highest peak of the Andes and its powerful Apu (3). Overcoming the surprise and the enthusiasm, they went ahead, and after a short walk, in which many hares crossed their path as if to greet them, arrived late in the afternoon to a ravine. Downstairs, embedded in the ravine, ran a mighty river, which was advancing, invincible, on the rocks...


The sound of the trumpet, the quepa, (4) broke the silence to announce that they had come. However, there was nothing to do: the hot springs were on the other side of the ravine, inaccessible ... 

An utter dismay befell them because of the impossibility that presented itself. They stood, there, at night, tired and waiting that the Sun, the Father of all the Incas, would bring a solution to the problem.

In the morning, as if led by the power and love of the Sun, which all the Incas are children, the soldiers of the retinue, warriors of Inti (5), began to embrace each other, forming a human bridge so that the Son of the Sun could reach the other side. The Inca walked on their back, with his son in the arms, and thus he could reach the hot springs, finding the cure for the boy.

When she looked back, to thank the warriors, they had been petrified and became what we now know as "Puente del Inca."

   




Perhaps this is my favorite legend for what it represents. The great Tahuantinsuyo was like that. The power of the Sun combined with the strength of men and women of the kingdom, forever in search of perfection. This legend represents many things. There is the divine presence in all stages of the path and all the discoveries and there is the human side, seeking to overcome their difficulties with union and faith, never giving up on their goals and fulfilling their duty to the end.

This legend certainly expresses the Tahuantinsuyo in its simplest form and at the same time, more important: the land of gods, the home of the Sun, a nation of warriors...


Some told that,  when the night is coming, when the hills are smoky, wrapped in veils of startling ways, one can see passing a caravan of strange figures, as if it was out of time, out of the silence, crossing from one mountain to another, eternally seeking the healing waters...







(1) located on the south side of the route linking Mendoza to Santiago de Chile, a distance of 1,500 meters from the "Puente del Inca," six kilometers from Los Penitentes.

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(2) a person of great wisdom, teacher, master.


(3) Mountain Spirit.


(4) (quepa or pututu) - great trumpet made ​​of a large marine snail with the spiral internal channel.


(5) in Quechua, Sun