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Published: February 11th 2007
This massive figure overlooks the Cusco valley
1999……….6wks SOUTH AMERICA-ARGENTINA, PERU............
In Cusco there is a ticket (US$10 for 10 days) that allows you into a variety of sites, Cathedrals, Monasteries, and Museums etc. I first went to the Cathedral which commenced being built in 1559 and took 100 years to complete. The Cathedral is actually 3 churches in one. The earliest dates back from 1536. In the Sacristy there were several people doing restoration work to restore the wooden carved statues. There are many splendid side chapels etc. There are many paintings from the 16th/17th cent. This church was an over the top experience of religious fervour with blood and guts everywhere, self flagellation, Mary dressed up like the doll on top of the Christmas tree with tears rolling down her cheeks and that guy on the stick everywhere looking very miserable and unhappy with his lot, blood everywhere and not a lot of love and forgiveness abounding. It didn't inspire me to give up my life to Jesus. The domed ceilings, frescoed arches, elaborate woodwork of the choir, absolutely huge paintings etc etc was really too much to take in. I also visited a couple of museums on religion and regional history and an art gallery-
all housed in magnificent buildings with central courtyards.
The weather in Cusco seems fairly constant at this time of the year: cold about 4-5pm and in the mornings until the sun comes out, which can then be quite intense because of the altitude. It is not that hot that you need shorts but you can easily get burnt. The city looks uniform because of the tiled rooves of the adobe and stone buildings. The old part which is all you see basically while walking is quaint with the streets mostly cobbled except where the tyres of cars go where they are paved in stone. Today after my Spanish lesson, I made my way up to the Inca ruins on top of the hill behind Cusco, called Sacsayhuaman. (Pronounced “sexy woman” I am told). The Inca walls are magnificent and hugely impressive because of their size and the skill of construction. Some rocks weigh up to 130 tons. Three walls run for over 360 metres. It was thought to be a fortress but the layout and architecture suggests a great sanctuary and temple to the sun. From 1536 with the fall of the Incas to the Spanish, to the 1930s,
Beneath the Christo Blanco. A nice place to work and sell her weavings
the site was used as a way of getting ready made materials for housing etc in Cusco.
I also visited the Christo Blanco- white Christ figure that stands in protection over Cusco and is lit up at night. The walk was good practice for acclimatizing. There was a woman doing some weaving by the cross and graciously allowed me to take her picture without demanding money. I walked away and then came back and gave her a kangaroo badge which she promptly put in her hat. She was very pleased.
Spanish lessons continued with visits to the SAEC. I finally got some response from two guys doing the Salakantay trek who would be happy for me to join them. I had wanted to do this trek which joins up with the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. It was too late though, as I had just decided to do the trek around Ausangate with an agency which were organising a cook, guide and horseman from Tinqui leaving tomorrow. The cost is US$95 for transport, guide, food, horse, tent and mattress. SAEC kindly lent me another mattress for comfort & insulation.
On Friday night while I
The Battered Christ
This is actually in the Santa Catalina Monastry in Arequipa- but you get the point.
was in the Plaza there was a noisy celebration promoting education in ’99. Lots of cars, buses and trucks decorated with balloons and filled with people- Police escort and firecrackers
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