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Published: August 21st 2019
The start of this holiday was a series of challenges with our Melbourne to Syney flight delayed due to high winds causing us to miss our Sydney-Auckland- Lima connection and our one day tour of Lima and resulting in lost luggage, which we are told is now en route and we hope will arrive tomorrow. But there was a silver lining - we had a lovely unplanned day in Auckland courtesy of Qantas, had lunch with cousins Natasha and Rob, and took in a little of the views from the Waitakere Ranges. I also managed to convince Qantas to compensate us by moving our return flights a couple of days later so we can see Lima at the end so if the luggage turns up it will all work out.
But today the holiday really got started. We arrived in Lima last night and early this morning headed straight to Cusco, the ancient Inca capital. It's a beautiful town with steep winding streets and a charming mixture of Inca and colonial Spanish culture (the street signs have an Inca emblem but Spanish names and flowers in a decorative Spanish style)...and a very large number of tourists. Cusco is high in the Andes with towering mountains - giving a magnificent view when approaching from the air. The elevation is 3400 m so altitude sickness is common. I had some weird pins and needles in my feet (which turned out to be an effect of the anti-altitude medication) but nothing serious and Danny has been fine so the meds and traditional coca tea we have been told to drink are working.
We spent the afternoon exploring the lively Plaza de Armas, the central square surrounded by impressive Spanish churches, and the little streets (where we saw a remarkable number of Hebrew signs - something of a victory over the conquistadores). We each ordered a traditional Peruvian dish for lunch - cerviche (marinated raw fish) for me and lomo saltado (lamb in tomato sauce) for Danny.
We visited the Inca Museum which is a quite extensive collection of artefacts and historical information. I was particularly interested to see examples of the range of artefacts from the various pre-Inca cultures which were remarkably varied and sophisticated. We loved some of the comical pots with caricatured human faces. The Inca artefacts included pots big enough to boil a whole animal down to pots the size of a thimble used for ritual purposes. A map showed the size of the Inca empire superimposed on a map of Europe - it stretched latitudinally from Spain to Russia - and they maintained close bureaucratic control without writing or the wheel. There were examples of skulls with evidence of trepanation -cranial surgery performed by the Inca - and rather spooky display of mummies, not neatly wrapped Egyptian-style but crouching in caves or Niches. Inca mummies were preserved with bean paste in a position of veneration. The most beautiful item was a pot produced after the Spanish conquest which illustrated the account of Inca life made by a Spanish writer in gorgeous colour.
And speaking of colour, the traditional fabrics are so vibrant that every shop is a feast for the eyes. Local women dressed in traditional costume make gorgeous photos especially those who pose with baby llamas (for a price, of course) . I didn't bring the technology to upload from my camera so you'll have to wait until I get home to see them.
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