On your way to Machu Picchu, don’t miss Cusco

I want to do a couple of blogs on Peru, because all though Machu Picchu is the big draw there is a lot more to see.  When I travel I like to see everything I possibly can.  There are so many places to go and, all though you always talk about going back, it is more likely you only get one chance to see what is there.  After our long morning in the Lima airport we fly over huge mountain ranges to arrive at our destination of Cusco three days early. Our original plan to go into the northern jungles of Peru had to be canceled due to unrest in the area. The flight film was a documentary on touring Peru which I was having trouble paying attention to,  as I was drawn to the unending, spectacular mountain chain outside my window.   They had very high peaks with trails making loops around the sides of them.  DSCF0095

As we begin our descent, we see some villages and even some animals grazing on the mountain sides.  Soon it seems we are descending with towering mountain peaks all around our plane.  My thought was, we were weaving down and fast, through a small channel, to finally touch down safely.

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The airport is small and we are greeted by a small Peruvian band with the familiar flute sounds.  These music makers are everywhere, at tourist stops, in restaurants, and on the streets.  The music is haunting and begins to sound the same after a while.

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Cusco is not a modern city.  The streets are crowded, narrow and are paved with brick.  We bounce along in our nice van, looking at rows of houses very close together, and costumed sellers any where you looked.

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We are on our way to our first hotel and it is the one I liked best of all. Inside, away from the busy crowded street, we have a beautiful courtyard with a balcony all around.  Our rooms are small but comfortable. This is where we had our first meal.  It was basically chicken soup and bread, was on nearly every menu, and became what I ate most of the time we were there.  With that diet and all the climbing and walking we did, I was down five pounds in two weeks.

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Next we set to the tourist task of seeing the sites of Cusco. The city was considered the center of the Inca Empire.  When the Spaniards came in they conquered the Incas and, as was prevalent in that time period, basically forced Christianity into their society.  The people and the conquerors mixed the religions, each compromising a lot, for a long period of time.   We see one picture of the Last Supper where Jesus is sharing the bread, the wine and the guinea  pig, as the guinea pig was sacred to the Incas.  Even today it is the go to party food.

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This picture is taken outside the temple/museum looking out into the terraces and the busy streets of the city. We were not permitted to take pictures inside the ancient building.

Out of  town with its noisy crowded streets, we climb a long low grade hill to have a look over the vast city of red roof tops, and the inscription on the towering mountain just outside Cusco.

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Next stop Saksaywaman. (sounds like saxaywoman) Until we saw it spelled out we could not get a hold of what the guide was telling us about the elusive saxaywoman.  These are Inca ruins that were put into preservation in the past 50 years. Our guide pointed out the paw of a puma and a snake woven into the rock formation made thousands of years ago.

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There is a top to this hill and we climbed a long way to look down.  In Peru I don’t think you can really reach the top of any thing.  It seems there is always, like life, one more hill to climb.

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Fun to explore and amazing to see the craftmanship and wonder how and by what means it was accomplished.

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It was also a joy to gaze on the beautiful Christo Blanco statue on a nearby hill that can be seen from much of the city. An unmistakable symbol of the Christian worship that is now predominate, and I understand growing with sincerity and becoming free of  compromise in Peru and many South American countries.

More to come as we continue our tour in another blog with a wish called Wanda.  My way of wishing you could have been there with us.

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