Monday, December 15, 2008

Cusco, Peru: A mountain gem of a city.

A beautiful church in Plaza De Armas.

We only spent 16 hours in Ecuador before jetting over to Cusco, Peru via Lima (for about 7 hours overnight). Cusco was a magical city. The first impression of it is that is so just soooo Peruvian Andes...cause it is. The women and children look and dress just like you would imagine they do. Yes, it is touristy and they very much cater to the international Manchu Pichu visitor, but there is just something about it that is refreshing and beautiful about the ornate churches and little hills of houses.

Traditional Andes clothing. The bright colors were trumped up for tourists, but our travels through the country revealed that these styles (except in dark blue) are legimately what they wear in the mountain regions.

We had about a day of acclimation at this city of 9000 feet before beginning our four day trek the next morning. We spent it shopping in the amazing bazaars and markets, people watching, and learning the merits of coca tea (for the altitude). I bought an handmade warm hat made out of alpaca wool with ear flaps to keep my ears warm as we camped at elevation on our trek. Our hostel Piccola Locanda (highly recommend) was very cutely remodeled and located at the top of a very steep set of about 200 stairs leading out of the main square Plaza De Armas. Every time we returned to our hostal throughout the day we were all gasping for breath and muttering about how we were going to die on the trail for the next 4 days. It was only made worse by the adorable school children running up past us (and I am pretty sure laughing at us).

Damn us every time.

Shopping!! Everything seem el cheapo.

This little girl selling finger puppets for $.50 was irresistable so I bought an alpaca (like a llama). The children hawking wares are always impossible to say no to and make you sad.

We ate very well here and many restuarants were empty and begging for your business. We found the American 80s pop music played in most of them strange but amusing. English was very much spoken in this city. After an evening meet and greet Q&A sessions where we met our guide Frank for the four day Inca Trail trek, we packed as lightly as possible (leaving most of our weight) at the hostel. By luck, we had somehow gotten a private tour with just the four of us, so our entourage would be small with just the four of us gringa, our guide Frank, a cook and three porters. We would later come to learn that our size and mobility would make our trek much much more awesome.

View from the Bagdad Cafe. Who knows...? It had a mural of camels on the wall.

Need anything? They probably have it...this was a non touristy market we walked to.

Ladies leaving from the market. This was more authentic dress.


cconz said...

thanks for this post. my husband and i are heading here in may. i'm trying to find out all i can. i love your pictures and tales and your blog in general. What a cool person you seem to be. I 'll keep reading of your adventures as long as you post. thanks cathie

glovestudios said...

Cool pictures. I stumbled upon this by accident. My wife is from Cusco and we were there last June. Will probably go again for Christmas.