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Published: September 27th 2007
Blog 25 September - Cusco to Arequipa
The day after we finished the Inca Trail we were off on a tour of the Sacred Valley. Unfortunately, Rachel was not well but she struggled along. We visited SaqsyWaman ruins which are in the shape of a puma head. We saw a natural slide which was used in Incan times and we all had a go. We also walked through a little tunnel in the ruins, in complete blackness which was a bit of fun. Also on the tour we visited an alpaca/llama touristy place where the girls fed the animals. Llamas and alpacas, like most animals, are only interested when you have food. We visited more ruins and also the markets at Pisa. Then a stop at a Cheecha place. This mildly acholic drink is made from red corn. It is drunk by farmers after a days work. Local houses with red plastic on the end of a pole sell Cheecha. You can go there to drink and play ‘Inca darts’. The girls love this game and have played it several times. You need to try to throw heavy coins into a brass frog’s mouth. As we were the only ones
Our hotel in Cusco
Not a straight wall in the place.
on the tour, we called it a day after the Cheecha and went home to Cusco.
Cusco is a lovely city. Very pretty with lots of Spanish influenced architecture. The main square, Plaza de Armas is very attractive. The girls fed pigeons there which is becoming a favourite pastime. Sarah took three salsa lessons over three days. She loved it. Fortunately, Rachel managed one lesson whilst she was recovering. The teacher, Janice, was a Scottish lady with a Cuban restaurant, and she pushed all the tables and chairs out of the way to make a dance floor in the centre of the restaurant. The restaurant stays open during all this so Sarah was dancing amongst the other customers. Janice gave us some salsa music so hopefully they can have another go at home.
Our hotel in Cusco was very pretty. It was about 200 years old and not a straight wall in the place. All the walls and floors were sagging. Very nicely kept though with lovely pots full of flowering geraniums and the staff were lovely. We spent a total of 5 days in Cusco and got to know them, bringing them cakes for afternoon tea. We
also hooked up to the wi-fi internet from the hotel across the street and skyped my mum and dad in Buderim a few times.
We went to a couple of museums in Cusco, mostly full of religious paintings and artefacts from Spain. We had a great time in Cusco, nice and relaxed which was good for Rachel to recover. Tim and I managed a dinner out on our own, which was nice, however then I got sick.
We had a really early start leaving Cusco, up at 4.00am for our longest bus day. We drove to a small town called Chivay. On route a 4,900 metre pass, very barren. Snow along side the road. A lovely hotel there with llamas out the front of our door. We also visited some hot springs there. Really lovely, swimming in there with a full moon shining down on us. We had another early start the next day to see the condors in the Colca Canyon. Terrible roads, but truly spectacular seeing the condors. Our guide, Matt, told us the condors would fly at 8.30 and sure enough on the dot they appeared. There were heaps of tourists there. I got some
great photos. We also saw more mummy graves in the hillside. Inca buried their important people in foetal positions in holes and caves in the hillsides with offerings. Most of these graves were raided by the Spanish and still today grave robbing is big business.
Off to Arequipa which is a city of approx 1 million. Very dry and barren. In the city centre it is quite nice. The Plaza was super busy with people everywhere. When we asked what was going on, we were told it is just an ordinary day. That’s what you do. Hang out at the plaza. We saw Juanita, who was a 12 year old human sacrifice. She was discovered 10 years ago when a volcanic eruption melted some snow caps. She is approximately 500 years old and an important discovery for Incan research. We actually saw her frozen in a perspex case. We saw a short video about her life and her journey to the sacrifice site where she was struck across the head and offered to the gods. We also visited a monastery in Arequipa, Santa Catalina. It was the largest, most fanciest monastery in Sth America. Only the rich could get
a position there. We had a guide and the whole history of the monastery is very weird. Rich nuns spent their lives there with up to 2 or 3 servants each. They had their own houses, complete with kitchens and servants quarters. Very pretty monastery with lots of lovely gardens. We took heaps of photos there.
Today we are off to the coast, and have thus finished living in the high altitude. We are looking forward to our flight over the Nazca Lines and finishing our tour in Lima on Friday. Then off to Argentina. Adios.
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