Churches, Plazas, and Big Stones: Its what Cusco does

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September 28th 2008
Published: October 3rd 2008
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Inca StonesInca StonesInca Stones

I find the Inca stones amazing. They are huge, fit perfectly, and use no cement. They are truely amazing.
Cusco, Cusco, Cusco...

I had heard so much about Cusco prior to my trip, but still didnt (sorry, the apostrophe key isnt working on this keyboard... Spanish keyboards take a while to get used to...) have a solid idea of what to expect when I got here. I knew it was the old capital of the Incan Empire, that the Spanish colonized it heavily, and that it was a major tourist destination. All of those proved to be true. It is a lovely town with numerous plazas all around the city. There are tiny out of the way plazas such as San Blas with small winding streets and larger ones with fountains and great cafes like Plaza Regocijo and San Francisco. The large Plaza de Aramas is one of the nicest city squares Ive ever seen. There are several churches surrounding it, including the Catedral de Cusco. It is a beautiful church, but I find its history a tragic comedy that not even Shakespeare could have written. The Spanish tore down an Incan palace to be replaced by the cathedral, removed stones from a near by hill top fortress to use in its creation, and stole all the gold and
Plaza D´ ArmasPlaza D´ ArmasPlaza D´ Armas

Beautiful cathedrals
silver from the Incans to decorate the church. As if destroying their treasures wasnt bad enough, they then forced the religion onto the local people. The locals played along, but still subtly practices their own religions as well. Go into the church and you can see the interesting twists on Andean Catholicism. The last super features guinea pig as the entree and the window shows the southern constellations and beautiful Andean mountains, which are still worshiped by the locals.

Eric and I have spent most of our time just wandering around Cusco. It is easy to do inadvertently due to the narrow winding streets that dont seem to have had much central planning. I always seem to be amazed by the small things that no one else finds that interesting, or at least as fascinating as I find them to be, but the stones used by the Incas to create the walls in the city are just stunning. They are massive, some over six by six feet, and fit perfectly together. You couldnt even squeeze a piece of paper between them. They are simply stunning, and they are everywhere.

Anyway, as I was saying, Eric and I have just been bumming around the city enjoying the beautiful weather. The city is pretty touristy, and not with just backpackers but people on a one week vacation willing to spend more money than we can. As such, it is a bit too pricey for us to check out all the churches and ruins in the area that we would like to. (It is over $40 for an entrance ticket to see the ruins throughout the Sacred Valley, which is a little more than my budget for a full day.) We have found some amazing little gems though. The central market here is phenomenal; they have three huge rows of nothing but juice vendors who will throw any vegetables and fruits (Eric´s edit: They´ll even put a Cusqueña beer in your smoothie if you want.) you desire into an industrial juicer and make you a delicious concoction. They also have some interesting meats on sale, including cow noses, and great little restaurants. We ate lunch there and, unlike Lima where I struck out when ordering something random, I hit a home run this time! Delicious steak, rice, veggies, and beans with a soup.

On the last day in Cusco before
2 Pig heads = 78 Soles2 Pig heads = 78 Soles2 Pig heads = 78 Soles

Tasty, tasty meals in the market.
we headed out on our 5 day 4 night Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu (more on that in the next blog), we came across a huge celebration of the tourist industry. It was really interesting. There was free food in several of the plazas, and a parade ran through the town with people in traditional costumes from various parts of Peru. (Eric´s edit: Being the gringos that we are, some news reporters easily identified us as tourists and we actually got briefly interviewed by a local tv station on our opinion of the local cuisine. Look for us on Del Mundo televicion.) It was a great way to kill a day sitting around being entertained before we headed off on our hike...

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14

Lunch in the marketLunch in the market
Lunch in the market

Trying to get Eric to sample new foods.
Bugs and churchesBugs and churches
Bugs and churches

Love the VWs that run around town.
Juice BarJuice Bar
Juice Bar

I love this place! A huge juice bar in the market where they will put any fruit or vegetable into a glass for you. Delicious.

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