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Published: March 26th 2014
Tuesday and Wednesday
The flight went via Juliaca near Lake Titicaca. The country is semi-arid and very rugged, with volcanoes and lakes. Juliaca is located in a very wide flay valley surrounded by low mountains (sedimentary rock turned on end) a deep purple brown colour. The houses are boxes of the same colour as many are built of mud bricks. As we neared Cusco, the Andes rose up in sharp snow-capped peaks and glaciers.
We arrived in Cusco during festival, part of Inti Raymi (festival of the sun). Some of the streets of Cusco were closed for the parades which started mid-morning and were still going at 8pm. 3 TV stations were broad-casting live. Every day there is music, dancing and parades somewhere in the city. All very colourful and noisy. We have learnt a new dance because we have seen it so many times now.
The streets are narrow and cobbled, you need to stand against the wall if a car passes. And steep, some of the footpaths are staircases. There’s no rushing as it’s easy to become breathless at 3300m. Dogs are plentiful, some wearing little jackets. Lima was full of cats but all
other towns and villages have dogs.
The food has been pretty good and some that we’ve eaten is only available this time of year. There’s lots of fresh fruit and juices. I don't think we’ll get to try all of the over 3000 varieties of spud or 300 types of corn.
We were told of strikes by teachers over a requirement to test for ability. After violent protests against tourists, the government relented. Now there were strikers in the Puno/Juliaca area.
You are constantly offered stuff to buy. Since 80% of the population relies on tourism, it is safe in most parts of the city because if you get attacked or mugged, the locals will come to your aid and make a real mess of the offender. Colourfully dressed Indians with alpacas or llamas offer themselves for photos at a small price. Outside the cities it might be an eagle.
At the bottom end of town is a big covered markets where we picked up a few things. Up near the main plaza are good Pre-Columbian and Inca museums
Charlette and Joep, a young Dutch couple were staying in our hotel and
travelling with the same on-line travel agent as us, doing a similar trip. We often spent time with them over the next few days as we experienced Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
We are travelling with our day packs only for a few days in the Sacred Valley.
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