Posted by: Jessie Kwak | October 10, 2009

Relax here!! Relax here!!!

Yesterday we went to the Inca Baths, where it is said that Atahualpa, the Inca, was resting when he received news that the Spaniards were on the march toward him.

Today something can still be seen of the old Inca ruins that made this place into a private resort for the Inca, but the exclusivity is long gone. A spiffy complex of yellow (English Ivory, mom) buildings with red tile roofs has sprang up in its place, with perfectly manicured gardens and glossy posters on the walls wherein girls in bikinis tout the healing powers of the water. In the center of the compound a hedge has been cut to look like the head of the Inca.

The complex offers private bathing chambers, showers, a sauna, massages, and a swimming pool: neat blue signs point the way to each. For a few soles you can buy a 20-minute entrance to specific bathing chambers where you can relax—if you can drown out the sound of ringing cellphones and honking cars, and the man with the loudspeaker advertising the candy he sells.

Tourists (mainly Peruvian) wait in line for their turn, pestered as they wait by women selling baked goods, boys selling packets of shampoo, men selling novelty towels. The stands of vendors selling sweets and stuffed potatoes are shaded by colorful beach umbrellas.

All in all the effect was too loud for us. We had been expecting something more austere, a quiet meditation on Atahualpa’s last days as a free man, resting in a sacred place. We walked by a few times, shooing away the shampoo boys, then sighed and hopped back on the bus for Cajamarca.

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