The Adventure Begins

Cusco Travel Blog

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A view of Cusco from the surrounding mountains.
     Nestled in the Andes Mountains at nearly 12,000 feet of elevation, Cusco was the Inca capital and center of their universe.  Today, it is the home to over 400,000 inhabitants, most of whom trace their ancestry to either the Inca or their conquerors, the Spanish.  This was the beginning of my 40 year dream ......... to visit Machu Picchu!
    I should not have been startled by the scarcity of oxygen and my initial breathing discomfort, but neverless, had to take it easy the first day.  The locals sold leaves of the coca plant, so in the true spirit of the ancient Inca, I chewed the leaves in hopes of relieving my headache from the altitude sickness.
Their hats identify the village or nearby region in which they reside.
  By the end of the day, I felt much better, though I not sure if the leaves actually worked, or were more of a placebo.
    The people of Cusco were extremely warm and friendly.  I particularly enjoyed taking their picture, especially the children.  Their costumes were bright and colorful and they didn't mind posing if you offered them a sol (about 31 cents).  Being a middle school teacher, I spent quite a bit of time conversing with the kids, most of whom spoke good English, at least much better than my Spanish!  They always had something to sell you and I'm sure I purchased more little trinkets than I needed.  Everything was very inexpensive.  The open air markets were a great deal of fun to shop.  I learned that everyone claims to have "100% alpaca" blankets, shawls, etc.
The ruins at Sacsahuaman, (loosely pronounced "sexy woman"). Incredible stonework!
, but very few places actually had the genuine product.
    We toured several of the ruins that first day (fortunately, by bus).  Cusco is in a large valley or bowl.  Sacsahuaman and Tambo Machay are both just out of town on top of a surrounding ridge.  Sacsahuaman was built as a fortress temple and was eventually over taken by the Spanish.  The walls that remain are an incredible example of Inca stonework.  The stones fit so well, a knifeblade will not fit between them. 
   Tambo Machay was the personal retreat of Pachacuti.  Complete with terraced farmland and fountains of "sacred water", the great ruler could retire away from Cusco, yet still rule effectively from this estate.
    The center of life in Cusco is the Plaza de Armas, and many of the better shops and restaurants are located here.
Coricancha, the Temple of the Sun. The gray wall in the middle is the original Inca foundation.
  I don't recommend it, but my travel companions thoroughly enjoyed the guinea pig, a local delicacy.  Ugh!!  The plaza is dominated by the Church of La Compania and the colonial Cathedral.  Both are magnificient and should be visited.  Only a scant 4 or 5 blocks from the plaza is Coricancha, or the Temple of the Sun.  The sacred wall of the Coricancha -"golden enclosure"- was built during the reign of Pachacuti and has withstood centuries of earthquakes while the colonial structure above it has crumbled and been repaired many times over.  There is a small underground museum of only 3 rooms on the main avenue facing Coricancha.
    Near the end of that first day we meet a local named Santos.  He operated several booths in a nearby market, but his higher calling seemed to be taking care of tourists!  He seemed to magically appear everytime we emerged from our hotel.  He was an invaluable source of pointers and information and seemed to be able to locate anything we might need!  (Nothing illegal, of course!).  Naturally, we all spent more money than we needed to at his booths in the market.
SheLuvz2Fly says:
Excellent Blog....Well Done!
Posted on: Oct 21, 2008
paganmom says:
This is a great start. I agree with pushirubiano...Peru is great!!!
Posted on: Aug 27, 2008
pushirubiano says:
Nice start of your blog! Isn't Peru great!
Posted on: Jul 13, 2008
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A view of Cusco from the surroundi…
A view of Cusco from the surround…
Their hats identify the village or…
Their hats identify the village o…
The ruins at Sacsahuaman, (loosely…
The ruins at Sacsahuaman, (loosel…
Coricancha, the Temple of the Sun.…
Coricancha, the Temple of the Sun…
Final approach into Cusco.
Final approach into Cusco.
Welcome to Cusco!
Welcome to Cusco!
Our hotel, located about 8 blocks …
Our hotel, located about 8 blocks…
Santos, our local guide.
Santos, our local "guide".
Fountain to the Sun God, across fr…
Fountain to the Sun God, across f…
The colonial Cathedral in the Plaz…
The colonial Cathedral in the Pla…
Fresh water spring at Tambo Machay…
Fresh water spring at Tambo Macha…
The only souvenir I really wanted …
The only souvenir I really wanted…
Guess who just sold me her hat!!
Guess who just sold me her hat!!
BIG rocks!
BIG rocks!
Fits like a jigsaw puzzle!
Fits like a jigsaw puzzle!
Not exactly rush hour.
Not exactly rush hour.
photo by: Vlindeke