(post from John) On Saturday, Raisa, the kids and I took a taxi southeast of Cusco to Tipón, another Incan archeological site. The taxis we are usually offered are old, very small and low to the ground. In this one, there was just enough room for three in the back and one Ombligo Amigo in the front. That was me. The driver only had to look at me once before he turned to Raisa in the back seat and engaged her in blithe, Spanish conversation. It was only about a half-hour drive, and the scenery grew more and more beautiful as we progressed further along the valley. We all nodded off at various points as the driver continued to pass buses and trucks belching out black smoke. And then on into the beautiful expanse of the Andes. Closer to the ruins, the road to Tipón took us up a switchback road, past horse farms, Eucalyptus trees and eroded hillsides. In fact, there were quite a few times where we had to drive around boulders that had fallen into the middle of the road! However, we made it to the top and popped out of our taxi. What faced us was an incredible view of Inca ruins and of the huge, long and spectacular mountain range. And sky. Plenty of sky. After having seen a few of these archeological sites, I’m glad to have seen a mix in the utility of these sites. Some of these are fortresses, some are temples, some are agricultural. Others are a mix, and seem to have been constructed more for aesthetic pleasure. Such is the case with Tipón. It has been described as a testing ground for water management and a garden for the pleasure of the wealthy Incas. In a water purity test conducted a few years ago it was determined the water here is so clean that it's safe to drink. (During our time at these ruins we decided to trust - but not test! - these findings . . . ) What captured my attention immediately was the symmetry of the walls, the stones that comprise the terraces, and the escalating beauty as you climb higher and higher. It is not just the stunning design of the site, but the immense grandeur of the valley below and the ever-changing sky above. The clouds reformed every three minutes. The grass was just high enough on the terraced plateaus so that when the wind blew across, waves formed. Along the bottom of each wall, there ran a canal for the water. It would drop from one level to the next as a waterfall, and then be routed both across and down the terrace. Stone steps were inset into the walls so that you could climb easily out of the terrace and back on to the trail. Not only practical but aesthetically beautiful. This was my favorite site of the visit.