The home of an Inca farmer was a square, single – room hut. Together with a few of his relatives and friends, the farmer gathered stones for the foundation of his home. He grooved and fitted them into place. The walls of the hut were built of adobe brick. The men worked together to make the brick, usually making enough to build more than one hut. They dug up the clay dirt, poured water into it and mixed it with a spade.

The roof was supported by five thin poles, one at each corner and one in the center. It was made of thatch and covered with pebbles and mud to keep the thatch in place.

There were no windows or smoke holes in the hut. The only opening was the doorway, which faced east, toward the rising sun. Most doorways were covered with a blanket or a piece of hide.  Wood was sometimes used for doors, but not very often, because most of the trees had been cut down centuries before. The Inca administrators in an effort to conserve the few wooded areas that still remained, did not allow anyone to chop down a tree without special permission.

In those high altitudes it is hot during the day when the sun shines. As soon as the sun sets, however, it grows bitterly cold. Men and boys stripped to the waist as they worked outdoors in the sun.

At night the Inca Farmer slept on grass mats, which rested directly on mud – packed floor, and covered themselves with animal skins and wool capes to keep warm.

There was no stove or fire inside the hut. It was customary to have a cooking shed, spate from the living quarters, which two, three or even four neighbors shared. The stove the Indians used was something like a camp stove. It was small, round, and made of clay, with three openings at the top for cooking. Since a meal was usually made in one pot, three women could cook their meals on the stove at the same time. Dried llama dung and grass were used for the fire, which was built through an opening in the side of the stove.  This convenient, economical clay stove seems to have been an Andean invention.

The farmer’s wife rose before dawn to grind corn for the morning meal. Huddling in her woolen shawl eh ran the short distance from her house to the cooking hut. There she put some llama dung into the side opening  of the little clay stove and blew on the embers from last night’s fire to start a new fire going.

On one of the burners she set a pot of water to boil. While it heated, she ground dry corn on large, three-legged, sloping slab of stone. On the stone the woman threw corn kernels, a handful at a time, and with a large handstone, crushing them into flour. She poured the flour into the pot of boiling water, added some peppers, and let the mixture boil into mush.

When the food was ready, the woman carried the hot pot back into the hut. The family hunched over the meal and ate it quickly. The Indians believed in witchcraft, and they were afraid that a witch might get to their food and sicken them, so they tried to eat it as fast as possible. Often, when a man was among strangers, he ate his food facing a wall, to hide him from anything evil.

There were only two meals a day and they varied little from day to day. The Indians ate orn meal, other cereal and beans, or a simple stew of potatoes and beans. After a harvest, corn was sometime boiled in its husk. A few times a month, on festive occasions, the Indians ate duck, guinea pig, or occasionally, the meat of an old llama or alpaca. Whatever meat was left over was pounded and dried carefully in the sun.


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