The Ancient Farming Site of Moray – Finn Steckart

Scientists believe that Moray was an ancient Incan agricultural research station that is 50 kilometers Northwest from Cusco. This place has rings that go down into the ground, kind of like an amphitheater that we saw in Greece. The biggest ring is 150 meters deep from top to bottom. That’s as big as one and a half American Football fields.

The Incas were smart. Scientists believe that they where trying to find out what crops would grow the best in different places in Peru, like in the mountains, the plains and near the ocean.   At the top of the rings it was colder and at the bottom was warmer. So they would put the crop that grew on the top of the ring, like on a mountain, and the ones in the bottom would be the crops that would grow by the ocean. The crops they grew at Moray were different kinds of potatoes and corn, quinoa, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and herbs for medicine that they needed.

A cool thing about Moray is that like the Greeks, they have aqueducts too, but at Moray, theirs are built underground. Even though there is a rainy season in Peru, the big hole will never get flooded. All over Peru, food was dried out in the cold and then stored in buildings like silos called Colcas.

The Incas lived in family groups called an Ayllu and everyone had a job to do.  The Incas where a good empire because they could feed all the people of Peru. Because of Moray, they knew where they could plant different food types. This is why the Incans had such a big empire. They would invite other tribes to join them by offering to share their food. The Incas where happy because everyone got food no matter what. This ended when the Spaniards invaded Peru. The Incan Empire only lasted a 100 years.



Museo de Arte Precolombino



Today we set off to tour the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. It was quite small, but was impactful in it’s displays. Here we saw art displayed from 3,000 to 1,500 years old.  The displays in this museum were from various regions of Peru dated before the Incans united the first nations of Peru. Here we saw pottery and jewelry that was both decorational and functional at the same time. We learned that Gold and Silver were used for sacred purposes and for adornment. Gold and Silver was not viewed as something valuable until the Spaniards arrived and turned it into an exploited resource used for trading and money.


This pottery below reminds me of the Etruscan Pottery we saw in Italy, black and smooth.

Here is a necklace and bracelete made of seashells.  These came from the costal regions of Peru. When these were discovered by other regions, they began to make their way to places like the Andes and the plains of Peru, far from the ocean.

Here are some examples of gold used for jewelry. On the left are nose rings.  On the right are earring gages that were so big, it caused the earlobes to hang to their shoulders.  The Spanish Conquistadors called the Incans, “Long Ears.”

These are some wooden carved men, described as “totem” like.  They reminded us of statues we saw in New Zealand.

“In pre-columbian times the representation of the feminine figure was fundamentally associated with fertility and, in this set of figurines, even an added sense of playfulness seems to be present.”

“I like their eyelashes. I think it’s neat that they thought about that detail back then.”


The people of Peru were (and still are)  very connected to the earth, to nature, the seasons, and animals.  Here we see many examples of  vases and decorative art depicting animals as humans.  Below we see owls, a deer, foxes, a pelican and llamas.

About the foxes:  “In Andean mythology, the fox is considered an animal that connects the worlds.  Moche art shows that it was considered a very important animal in the Moche world and mythology.  These personages are sitting in the position usually assumed by the priests, and their outfits express their hierarchical position.”

Water: You don’t realise how good you have it… until you don’t have it

One of the biggest challenges here in Peru is it’s water source.  The lack of hot, clean water on demand.  We all take our water for granted.  At our home in Cornucopia, we turn on our tap and we get clean water straight from our well. Our water comes from 300 feet  underground.  In the city, your water is treated, it is clean, and ready to drink. (That is if you don’t live in Flint or 32 more cities in America with contaminated water.)

Looks can be deceiving.  Water can look clean, but take caution in Peru.  I have been told that none of the water in Peru is safe for drinking. Take a look at this beautiful scene.  A lake atop a plateau surrounded by mountains.  Beautiful, right?  Wrong.  Farm animals are used down to the very edge of the lake for plowing fields, thus contaminating the water.


In the first city we lived in, Urubamba, there was no water treatment facility.  The water comes directly from the mountains, flows down into the valley and is shared by everyone.


If you live downstream, you are guaranteed to be drinking contaminated water, as everyone drains their waste water straight back into the water source, including the farm animals of the Sacred Valley.  As a result, water must be boiled to rinse our dishes as well as for cooking.  You want a clean cup of coffee?  You must first boil the water before you put it into your coffee maker. (I learned this the hard way.  I ordered a cappuccino once and got sick from it, probably because they didn’t boil the water first.) Are you brushing your teeth?  Make sure the water is bottled.  The water also affects the vegetables and fruits grown in Peru.  Everything must be peeled or boiled.  This can be problematic if you like to eat salads.  Eat leafy greens only if you trust the restaurant or person cooking for you.

We all have two knobs in our bathrooms and kitchens back home.  One for hot and one for cold.  In Peru,  your only option is cold.  We all enjoy a hot shower, right? For a hot water shower, you must have an electric heating source or a solar panel.  Do you want hot water for cleaning your dishes?  You must boil it first.  I have been using boiled water as my final rinse so we don’t risk getting a stomach bug from the rinse water.


When we lived in Urabamba, every Wednesday we visited a rural Elementary School to do art projects with the children.  On the last day, we did a painting project where we painted polka dots on the exterior walls of the school.  I thought beforehand, how are we going to clean the paint brushes?  We had no choice but to use the outdoor sink, the school’s only water source for cleaning and drinking.


I felt horrible about this.  The water drained out through the bottom of the sink, through an underground pipe which emptied into a concrete ditch and out under the school yard wall.  The best we could do was to catch the paint water from the pipe before it went into the ditch.  We captured one pail at a time and poured it in the grass.  I figured the ground would at least filter it before it entered back into the shared water stream.

The unclean water affects us every day here.  It is something we have gotten used to, but it is a serious pain in the butt.  However, we do what we have to do because we don’t want to get sick.  We have been pretty lucky so far.

As we go through the motions of daily life in Peru, I am watching our Native brothers and sisters of Standing Rock fight for their right to clean water and it hits close to home. Knowing what it is like to live daily without clean, safe water, I am totally standing behind the fight for clean water rights.  Clearly, the greed of a few is overriding the importance of keeping citizens of the United States safe and healthy.

The Dakota Access Pipe Line is planned to cross the  Missouri River and Lake Oahe.  Not if, but when there is a break in this proposed pipeline, it would affect 17 million people that depend on the Missouri River for clean water. The city of Bismarck, North Dakota saw the writing on the wall.  Who wants a pipeline running through their backyard?  They surely didn’t. I don’t.  I’m sure you don’t either.  Well, neither do the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe clearly has the moral high ground. An earlier proposal for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, North Dakota, was scrapped because it threatened the capital’s water supply. So the very decision to move the route south was to sacrifice Native communities. A decade ago, even a couple of years ago, that might have worked. But not in the era of social media. People of goodwill easily recognise this injustice.

These people are not protestors, they are “Water Protectors.”  They are standing up for clean water, not just for themselves, but for the 17 million people down stream from them. They are setting an example for us all to stand up for our right as human beings to have access to clean water.

Water is life.

We cannot live without clean water.

We stand with Standing Rock.