We are a caravan of three 4wheel drive vehicles. Leaving Santa Cruz we drive south towards Samaipata. The speed limit is 70kph, and slower through the towns we encounter. It takes us three hours to arrive at our destination.
Our goal today is El Fuerte de Samaipata, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It dates back to pre Incan times, as far back 400 AD when it was a Mojocoya village, then from 800 – 1450 AD as a ceremonial center for the Chane people, who carved figures in the rock, followed by the Guarani warriors.
Then the Incas came for about 100 years and finally the Spanish around 1550. There are indications of all these peoples on the site.
Liz, our guide, tells us a story. The Inca were very vicious when they swept through an area to conquer. They basically killed everyone although they did subjugate some peoples and imposed a rule saying each family has to work for the community for a certain time, say 2 months, and then the rest of the year is their own. When the Spanish came into power, they heard about this rule and liked it, so they imposed the same thing on all subjugated people’s including the Incans but made it even tougher. “You will work in the mine for 4 months, and when that time is was over, here is your pay of 6 Royales, but wait, you owe us for food, 2 R, clothing, 2 R, and medicine, 4 R, so you now owe us 2 R. You can pay cash right now, or work it off in the mine.” Basically, the people ended up working in the mine for the rest of their lives.
We are staying the night in a quaint resort called El Publito, which is built like a small town, each room is decorated in the fashion of one of the shops. We are in the “Botica”, the pharmacy. I am sitting in the dining room, where the WIFI is stronger, and the aromas coming from the kitchen are making my mouth water.