Incan ruins and alpacas at Sacsayhuamán, Cusco

Some people visit the ruins of Sacsayhuamán in the hills just above Cusco, Peru to see the remarkable Incan walls, bricks carved so perfectly that the thinnest blade can’t fit into the seam between them.

Others come to see the wild-haired alpacas, nature’s best and most photogenic lawn mowers.

Triumphant alpaca, Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru

Triumphant alpaca

Running dreded alpaca, Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru photo

Running dreded alpaca

Picturesque alpaca and city view, Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru photo

Picturesque alpaca and city view at Sacsayhuamán

The alpacas, their dreded hair making them look like anthropomorphic Disney surfer dude characters, are fascinating for a while. Then, once Todd and I realize that the alpacas are not going to do anything cute or surprising enough to make us YouTube millionaires, we move on to appreciate the historic and architectural point of the place.

Todd versus a large Incan rock at Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru photo

Todd versus a large Incan rock

We try to stretch our visualization talents, imagining how much larger the walls used to be, before the Spanish conquistadors dragged most of the hand-carved bricks down the hill to town to use as raw material for their boastful churches. It’s like trying to reconstruct a child’s perfect birthday cake from the mashed, milk-soaked crumbs ground into the carpet and frosting stuck between fork tines.

Panorama of an Incan wall at Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru photo

Panorama of an Incan wall at Sacsayhuamán

Lucky for us — for all of us — the Spaniards were unable to move the heaviest rocks, so we have a foundation for our imagination to build up from. While tour barnacling we overhear that, from above, the Sacsayhuamán site forms the head of a puma, the main walls the puma’s sharp bared teeth, with the boundaries of ancient Cusco the puma’s body.

Jagged wall, Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru photo

Jagged wall

Local Incans held out the longest against the Spanish invaders here at Sacsayhuamán, settling in for a siege behind the thick walls. The leavings of war are long gone from the site, any sign of death completely worn away, re-purposed, or overgrown.

Rocky ruins at Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru photo

Rocky ruins

The longer we dawdle at the ruins, the more minutia we notice. Todd points out that if you stand in just the right spot, at just the right height, you can make the towering White Christ statue on the adjacent hill look like it’s a wedding-cake-topper-sized tchotchke on one of Sacsayhuamán’s Incan walls.

Tiny white Jesus on an Incan wall, Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru photo

Tiny white Jesus on an Incan wall at Sacsayhuamán

Or, as we wander into distant corners of the site, we find wild flowers invading cracks and crevices, beautifully contributing to the slow but inevitable decay.

Flower-covered Incan wall, Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru photo

Flower-covered Incan wall

Around a corner, through a field, away from paths worn in the grass by frequent tour groups, we find tired and less successful tour guides taking a siesta in some shade brought from home.

Tour guide naps at Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru photo

Tour guide naps at Sacsayhuamán