Cusco During Inti Raymi
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I arrived in Cusco from Puno around 3:00 am, so had to catch a taxi to a hostal. There was a very nice gentleman who recommended the Hospedaje Inka at a great price. I was so exhausted from the 7 hour bus ride (with NO stops along the way for us to eat or leave the bus) that I was happy to try it out.
When the taxi stopped at the bottom of an endless hill next to a church, the driver just pointed up the hill and signaled me to keep walking. I was so exhausted I could barely walk, muchless up a steep, steep hill with my bag. About mid-way up a young man named Julio stopped me and told me (I at least hoped that was what he was telling me) that he was going to help me to the hostal with my bag.
By the time we got to the hostal I was ready to drop in the courtyard. The young man pointed me up the stairs (seriously? more steps to climb?) to my room. The room was perfect and I was out like a light. When I woke up in a couple of hours the entire hike up the hill was worth every step.
From my window/door I could see most of Cusco and it was staggering! I could also hear the sounds of the city coming through the wind! I could hear the festival beginning to start up for the day and hear the pan flute music in the wind.
There is a community kitchen at the hostal, so after a frigid shower (i'm talking 40 degrees) I went down and was greeted by the proprietor and his older brother and was made to feel like family.
I met some younger travelers, mostly European, and most who had been on the road for months on end. I am so envious of the fact they have that much time to travel. It made my two weeks seem insignificant.
However, onward for me. I packed a day pack and headed down the longest hill toward the city center. I was greeted at the bottom of the hill (where cars cannot go forward up the hill) and was greeted by two young children in full dress. Yes, I know they are just nailing tourists, however, it is their country, their rules and their money.
As I got closer to the Plaza de Armas I could feel the energy picking up bit by bit. I could hear the music and drums and was swarmed by children and adults alike, trying to sell everything from postcards to trinkets to food. It was very overwhelming considering I'm not a city girl and I don't do crowds real well. However, I was able to relax (thank you zoloft) and enjoy the chaos that is Cusco during Inti Raymi. Still early in the day and early in the festival, the streets were still relatively calm, though far from quiet.