Published: January 20th 2012December 17th 2011
I arrived late evening in Cusco after another long 20 hour bus journey from La Paz. Cusco is a charming city even by the dark of night. The buildings are mostly old colonial types with a few modern ones squashed in between them. My hostel is by far one of the most charming I have stayed in yet. Again, Loki did not fail to deliver and if it hadn’t been for the enormously steep hill of steps to climb to get to and from the city centre it would have been perfect. Oh never mind, It was perfect with all the steps. The hostel itself is a mansion about 200 years old. Two dominating grassy courtyards are at the centre of the hostel and on arrival were full of fellow gringos. Even if I don´t participate it is amazingly comforting arriving at a hostel where people are actively socialising.
The following day I headed into the town centre to explore. I started my self guided tour at Cusco cathedral. The cathedral was built in the 1500ish when the Spanish invaded. The builders had problems sourcing bricks and stones so demolished the many surrounding Inca structures in order to build the
huge religious symbol that dominates the centre now. The first thing that stuck me on walking around the cathedral was the sheer amount of gold. Gold upon gold upon gold with a bit of extra gold… just to make sure there was enough gold. The fine details of the carvings and wood man ship are romantic and delightful to the eye yet I do feel a little saddened to think of all the Inca structures sacrificed in the process.
The second thing that surprised me was on the cross, A Black Jesus. My first sighting of a Black Jesus in all the churches and cathedrals I have entered on my travels and in fact all my life. To make things just a little bit more vibrant/odd Black Jesus was covered in blue LED fairy lights. Slightly different to our British conservative religious buildings. AND, of course he is wearing lots of gold with very graphics cuts and bruises. I sat in the front row looking up at Black Jesus and for the first time actually thought about the cross. The cross is a 2000 year old execution tool which we now glorify. I can´t imagine hip hop stars of
the future wearing electric chairs round their necks covered with diamonds and heavy bling. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe that is the next thing to take over the Celebrity jewelry market. Anyway, I viewed two more churches that afternoon and both of them had White Jesus’.
That evening I spent unwinding with my fellow gringos in the hostel bar and wearing way too much UV paint.
Machu Picchu was less than 24 hours away.
There are more photos below