Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Puente Del Inca

Puente Del Inca
This post is part of the two day Alta Montaña trip we took out of Mendoza. Read the post here for an overview of the trip.

Not far from the Chilean border is a curious sight worth stopping for. Puente del Inca is a natural bridge over a rushing tributary to the Río Mendoza. Below the natural bridge are the remains of a spa that was washed away in a flood.

The area is covered with orange and green mineral deposits giving the sight an "other-world" like a appearance.

Puente Del Inca

Miraculously, the flood spared the church several yards away from where the spa once stood.

Church across from Puente del Inca

I found this legend on the web on how Puente del Inca received its name:

Although the bridge was used as a path across the river by Inca travelers between Chile and Peru in pre-Columbian time, legend has it that many years before the arrival of the Spaniards, a great Inca chief had an ailing son suffering from paralysis.

After failure at every turn, he heard that in the south there was a place where healing water could put an end to his disgrace and cure his son. Without delay, he assembled a group of his best warriors and set for the high peaks.

When they first set eyes on the spot, the Chief was astonished that the healing mineral waters bubbling out of the earth were blocked by a torrential river in front of them.

Without haste, his brave warriors built a human bridge that reached the other side. The Inca chief walked on their backs with his son and reached the thermal source where he was relieved to find the remedy he had been looking for. When he looked back to thank his warriors, they had been turned into stone, creating the famous "Puente del Inca".

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