I’ve always been interested in geometry. The world is made of it and it combines with math in amazing ways. Amy and I took a class in Sacred Geometry in Pisac, Peru where the Incans used to live. We had a great time tying a bunch of straws together with fishing line to make some killer platonic solids.
You might wonder what platonic solids are. They were actually known before Plato and Pythagorus was probably the one who discovered it, but Plato gets the credit for it since he wrote about them in 350BC!
I’m going to keep this post short so that hopefully you’ll look at the attached presentation that shows how we made this cool structure. Here is the powerpoint file that shows how we made this monster.
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The Incans were prolific builders and were masters at
building things of stone that would last. They built roads, temples, palaces,
fortifications, and terraces on top of prominent mountains in the Andes. The
amazing aspect of the structures is the precision stonework that has lasted for
over 500 years and shows minimal signs of decay. They didn’t use mortar or
concrete between the stones and built them to resist earthquakes and water erosion
so that they last.
Many of the stone, Incan foundations can still be seen in
Cusco. Most of the buildings have been destroyed, but the foundations made of
tons of stones still exist. Many of the walking alleys in the old town are
lined with amazing boulders that are stacked on top of each other like sardines.
The stones are composed of hard rocks like granite or andesite and are custom
carved to fit the surrounding stones. Custom building each stone must have
taken patience and hard work that is very uncommon anymore.
Many of the ruins are located in the mountains above Cusco
and in the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is a gorge carved out of the Andes
by the Urubamba River. The gorge is spectacularly deep and over sixty miles long
between Pisac to Machu Picchu. Everyone
knows about Machu Picchu and the dramatic ridge that it sits on. We are going
to backpack their starting May 2nd as the climax of our time in Peru.
I’m going to tell you about some of the other ruins that we’ve seen now.
To see the ruins in the mountains above Pisac, we had to buy
one ticket for over $40 that got us into sixteen ruins or museums. Being the
spendthrifts that Amy and I are, we decided to get our money’s worth and go to
all sixteen sites. Here is the list of some of the worst and best:
Worst – Centro Cusco
De Arte Nativo – Native dancers twisted back and forth to make their skirts go
up and down for an hour. It was very repetitive with similar costumes and weak
dancing. I saw better dancing and better costumes on the streets of Cusco.
Museo Historico Regional – This historic museum had broken
pots and arrowheads from pre-Incan times.
They also have a few dioramas that look like a high schoolers made.
Puka Pukara – Some old, overgrown Incan walls that were
prominent on a little ridge. Skip this one.
Moray – The Incans built this jewel of a site around a
sinkhole – basically a lake that drains underground through some caverns. The
Incans filled the caverns with rocks and then made a flat, circular terrace on
top of it. They built concentric terraces around the bottom of the sinkhole
that climb up the ridge. See the pictures for a better explanation.
My favorite tour guide/author Peter Frost reports that crops
were not grown on the terraces because the soil wasn’t good and there wasn’t
irrigation to the site. He thinks the Inca rulers probably built this on a whim
to celebrate the inverted mountain that the sinkhole made. The Incans seemed to
direct many things like this to make sites sacred and interesting. They
worshipped many beautiful places with rockwork and buildings.
Pisaq or Pisac Ruins – This ruin is extensive and we had to
hike for over 2 miles from the top to the bottom. The ruins overlook the Sacred
Valley and the temples have exquisite stonework and running water.
Ollantaytambo – This ruin was mainly a fortification and is
the location where the Incans actually repelled the Spanish in a battle. The
Spanish were on their horses and they flooded the roads leading into the town
so that the calvary got bogged down and could be shot with arrows. The site also has some storehouses with
thatched roofs so that I could see what the old buildings looked like when they
were in use.
Saqsaywaman – This site, that is roughly pronounced “Sexy
woman”, overlooks Cusco and has some of the most massive stone works I’ve seen
yet. Only 20% of the original site is
left, but it is still impressive. The
largest stone is 28 feet high and weighs 361 tons! It seems like an impossible task to work with
One rebellion against the Spaniards was headquartered here
and it tuned into the site of a major battle. I read a few accounts and the most dramatic
said that about fifty Spanish Calvary killed about 1,500 Incan soldiers. It seems more like a massacre where the Spanish
were rather invincible in their armor and weaponry. The dead were not buried for a long time and
many Andean Condors came and ate the dead bodies. The Spanish made the Cusco coat of arms with
8 condors around an Incan tower to commemorate the Battle of Saqsaywaman. The coat was used until the 1990s when an indigenous
movement replaced it with a feline design.
We saw many more ruins that are on and off the ticket. Check out these pictures and videos to get a feel for some more of the Incan remnants.
Two years ago, my wife of almost nineteen years took her
last, gasping breath and passed into the other world. She had succumbed to pancreatic cancer that
had spread into her liver. She had been
sick for almost nine months, but had been rather healthy for the previous forty-six
years. She had run marathons, hiked up
mountains, traveled the world and cooked many great meals before passing into
the next realm.
So is she really gone?
I don’t think so. As
long as people remember her and think of her, she is still alive in our
hearts. The movie Coco said that we don’t
really pass as long as someone on Earth still holds them in their heart.
I was in a deep meditative state last week and I felt Grace’s
presence. She was on my left side with her head resting peacefully on my chest. This is how we both loved to be. To rest in each other’s arms and feel each
other. We did this almost every morning
when we would say, “Every Morning!” to each other. If one of us got up early, the last one to
get up would call them back to bed with “Every Morning!” so that we would have
our affectionate moment together and wake up on a loving note.
Grace and I would take this to an extreme sometimes and call
out wildly for the other. We’d throw a
temper tantrum and kick our legs up and down and scream like a baby for the
other’s love. We always had fun doing
this and the other would always oblige by dropping whatever they were doing and
come back for the other.
These intimate moments are what I miss the most. I also miss traveling with her, having a great
meal, having a bottle of wine, going on a long hike in the mountains or an
urban hike to Franceschi Park. We did
many great things together and gave each other freedom to do our own things as
After Grace laid by my side, I missed her and sat up and
cried. I knew that I didn’t have her
anymore, but I did have her family still.
I immediately thought of Grace’s niece Mei Lan who was with me the day
Grace passed. When I sat and watched
Grace who was completely still, I started sobbing. Mei Lan came and comforted
me. My love was gone, but I was still
How does anyone deal with or comprehend a loss of someone so
close. There is no one answer. My heart physically hurt for months after her
passing. I read an article months later
that found how the hearts of people who lost someone are very vulnerable to
heart attacks and other heart problems.
I felt like damaged goods. The
loss was so profound that it took months before the hole in my heart began to
Eventually, I resumed some of my hobbies like travel and
bought an RV that was very similar to the one Grace and I had and lived in for
a year. The first place I took it was to
Faria Beach Park on the coast north of Ventura. I had never been there, but dreamed
of going there for many of the months when Grace was sick. It was my dream of paradise and I found
comfort there. I was going to take Grace
there, but we never got to fly back to America.
After the beach, I took the RV to the mountains. I was alone most of the time, but my sister,
brother and David and Mianne Sell did come and visit me there. I came to some level of peace by then and my
brother helped me move on by signing me up for Match.com. Nothing ever came of my search there, but I
did find Amy through my friend Phil.
Now Amy and I are traveling the world for a year. We are currently in the Sacred Valley of Peru
and have been to Columbia and will go to Chile.
Amy and I are very close and we are both very happy to have each
other. Our relationship is unique and we
both love to take photographs of new places and we are ready to pay the price
to get there. The price is not only
time, but the effort to go to remote places on long days on buses, taxis,
trains, planes and mostly our feet. I’m
trying to document my trips on my website www.skippstrips.com
and facebook. I hope you can follow
along and keep up.
Grace is still with me in my heart and in my thoughts. I know she inspired me to do more with my
life. I’m still here and moving on with
my life the best I can. I hope you do
the same and know that Grace would want that of you.
PS. My niece had a reading with a psychic last week, and
Grace was the first one who came to her.
The medium said Grace wanted us to know that she was fine and that she
wants me to be OK. Grace was happy that
I found Amy and that she sent me Amy to find happiness and joy. Grace was cooking something in a bowl and I think
it is appropriate since she was always cooking something up.
I just finished Jules Verne book Around the World in 80 Days.
If you haen’t read it or seen the movies, it’s a classic travel
adventure novel based in 1872 where the London-gentleman Phileas Fogg makes a
bet that he can travel around the world in 80 days. Jules dreamed up the book in a Parisian café after
seeing an advertisement for taking an around the world tour. The book is a good page turner and based in
real places with the fictional characters.
The Skyler series of books that I’m writing will be similar and have Skyler
travel to real places in each book.
The Jules Verne book was intriguing because of how Phileas
went around the world on the latest technologies of steamships and trains. The novel was based on the ability to be an around-the-world
tourist because of the completion of the Transcontinental railroad and the Suez
Canal. I like the historical
descriptions of various places from Suez to Bombay, Hong Kong to Yokohama and San
Francisco to Salt Lake City. The book is
a great time capsule of the people and places in the book.
In Around the World in
80 Days, Phileas is not the least bit interested in the countries that he
passes through and just jumps from train to boat and back. He does fall in love on the journey with an
Indian woman he saves from the funeral pyre of her deceased husband. In the end, Jules says that finding his love
was more important to Phileas than winning the $20,000 pound bet that is
equivalent to over $2,000,000 today.
Last month, I finished Mark Twain’s book Innocents Abroad where Twain and a bunch
of tourists went to Europe, Middle East and Africa on a steamer in 1867. The book is a compilation of letters that he
wrote for a newspaper about the trip.
Twain’s sarcasm and humor made it the best-selling book during his life –
more than Huckleberry Finnn! The book is
one of the best-selling travel books of all time and gave Twain the freedom to
waste his money on many money-losing ventures.
I’m taking note of the techniques in these books and how
Twain and Verne made me laugh and kept me listening (I download audio
books). Around the World in 80 Days is much more similar to what I want to
write since it develops characters and a plot instead of just Twain’s remarks
of going from place to place. I want the places to be the background and
influence the characters, but I still want the characters to be the driving
force in the story. I hope to learn from
these masters so that I can be a great author as well.
PS. I also read a current travel adventure novel in the Jack
Reacher series. The book was interesting
and I liked the mystery/detective part of the book, but I didn’t like the
military aspect and couldn’t relate to the seriousness of Jack. He was a little too James Bondish for me too.