From Trujillo we took a ten hour bus ride on Cruz del Sur back to Lima. This time everyone had their own movie screen and headphones!!! There were several films to choose from. So much more enjoyable! The next afternoon we flew to Cusco.
Because the altitude is well over 11,000 feet, we took medication the day before and the day we flew. The first pill bothered both of us, me in my stomach, but at the time thought it was just remnants of the issue I had earlier. The second pill, which we took the day of the flight, gave me diarrhea which was worse during the night. I was thankful the flight was just over an hour so I had easy access to bathrooms, and that the hostel bathroom was certainly pleasant enough.
Cusco seemed really cold when we arrived though perhaps we adjusted quickly over the next few days. The only part I remembered from 33 years ago was the main plaza. Back then the sidewalks at night were packed with locals selling their wares. Now that isn’t the case. A few struggling artists hawk their efforts but little else is happening.
One such artist, after we purchased a few small pieces, was very generous in helping me find and get to a lab for blood work. I have been taking a medication for a month and needed to know if my liver was being affected. This kind young man, who spoke a bit of English, offered to go by taxi with us to the lab and even checked with the driver if this was the lab we should go to. He waited there for us and accompanied us back to the plaza! He didn’t want any money for his efforts, though we did give him some spare change. The lab emailed me the results that evening and all is well. I did note that the phlebotomist was very gentle in taking the blood sample, which is rather in contrast to the ones in Costa Rica I have met!
We ambled about the city for a couple of days getting used to the altitude before heading to Machu Picchu. There are artisans everywhere in buildings and haggling is expected. We did ok breathing, just took our time.
School kids are the same….they flock to the vendors after school to buy cheap trinkets and snacks. I asked a taxi driver about hats being a standard part of the uniform, though generally worn by the elementary students. It’s because the sun is so strong in Peru, which it is! Glad they are trying to protect their citizens from skin cancer!
There are also markets with hundreds of women, mostly, selling whatever they have outside the market while the ones inside have a more established merchandise that most everyone else has. Alpaca items abound, and I was glad that I could truthfully say it was too hot in Costa Rica to buy them.
There are Inca ruins within Cusco, and the street walls are not to be touched!
Qorikancha, whose ruins are the base of a church and convent of Santo Domingo, was once the richest temple of the Incan empire and literally covered with gold. About 700 sheets of gold, each weighing 2 kg, covered the temple walls until the greedy conquistadores plundered the place. There were even life sized gold and silver replicas of corn “planted” in agricultural rituals as well as solid gold altars, llamas, etc. Qorikancha was also an astronomical observatory. The curved wall below has withstood earthquakes which crumbled other buildings.
The last day we were in Cusco we took a taxi to see ruins just outside of town, Sacsayhuaman. We hired a young woman who spoke English to explain what we were viewing, other than a bunch of rocks! These Incan ruins were likely a temple to the sun and afford a panoramic view of Cusco.
The stone work remains amazing. The quarry was some distance away so hauling those megaliths was no easy feat! And then they had to be placed!
This old woman makes a few coins by asking to have her picture taken. Her feet are soooooo tiny!
We were taken into a twisty tunnel that was completely dark! The only way to safely proceed was with head down and keeping our right hand on the wall. Passage through was a way to gather energy from the Earth. Was I then ready to haul rocks? No!
Afterwards we paid extra money to walk several minutes up the road to another site where sacrifices and mummies were made.