Cuzco – the imperial city of the Incas. Cute town.
The city revolves around the main square, Plaza de Armas, around which the Cathedral and the Church of the Company (meaning the Society of Jesus) stand. The stone of their ornate construction is brown and in the dry season (which we are in) makes them look like they were intentionally built to blend in with the surrounding brown mountains as camoflauge.
As mentioned earlier, the little kids trying to sell you finger puppets can be a bit annoying, but overall the city has a lot of charm. As long as you can catch your breath long enough to appreciate it. Ann and I walked around a little, getting lost (thanks to my fantastic navigational skills) and walking up some very steep side streets populated by small kids in school uniforms (the real deal, ties and everything), old ladies in traditional outfits, and what was to be the first of many llama sightings. Right there in the street. A llama. Fantastic!
We took a tour of the Inca Museum, which wasn’t really all that interesting. The eight scary mummy remains just didn’t make up for the fact that everything was in Spanish and that most of the exhibits were pottery and a few arrowheads. Wouldn’t really recommend it.
Then we bought some sundries at the local “supermercado”, a cute place on the Plaza called Gato’s Market, which had more tourists than locals in it.
We rounded off the evening by catching half of a performance of local folkloric dances. The costumes were cute, but the dances were all pretty similar and not that interesting and I was coming down with a cold so we left at intermission.
I know it sounds like I am saying the place isn’t that great, but there is a fantastic sense of being in a completely different culture which really makes up for any failings of the local tourist traps. The pictures we take of the locals capture some of the feeling, but standing around with your heart beating fast just to get some oxygen into your lungs while you look at the vast horizon of mountains and pass people wearing clothes that come from a style hundreds of years old… it’s really amazing.
Our hotel was also very nice. Have to put a plug in for the Novotel in downtown Cuzco. It has a fantastic Spanish villa type of architecture and a huge covered courtyard where we ate breakfast (which was great), and our room was about twenty feet high and very nicely appointed.
Overall, having a great time in Peru (besides the altitude sickness) and very happy to have come.