Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 1: Sabado – Cusco

For Thanksgiving three friends (Jenny, Tom and Destiny) and I went to Peru. We were going to spend some time in Cusco, go on a three day hike through the Andes, spend a day at Machu Picchu, then end in Lima. After the trip was over we traded pictures and had more than 3,200. The pictures in the following come from all of us. I'm going to blog each day separately.

We had a Friday afternoon flight, flew through Bogota, and landed in Lima around 12:30 Saturday morning. Our flight to Cusco left Lima at 5:40 am, so we stayed in the airport. We couldn’t find seats and couldn’t check in and so we slept on the airport floor as best we could.

We then hopped on a little plane and made it to Cusco, the capital of the Incan Empire before the Spanish conquered it. The hotel where we stayed sent someone to pick us up. The hotel was a nice little place. Our hotel door was shorter than me (I’m 5’11’’) but the showerhead was almost seven feet high. Nearby was a restaurant named Jack’s where we had an amazing breakfast. We then walked down to the Plaza de Armas, which was about a five minute walk total from our hotel.

Along the way we passed all sorts of people trying to sell us paintings, massages, shirts and random knick-knacks. We got to the Plaza and sat down in front of the Cathedral by some elementary school kids from the Lake Titicaca area and started talking to them. We chatted for five to ten minutes, and then when they had to leave they all wanted pictures of us.

After walking around for awhile at the Plaza we decided to go to two archeological sites by Cusco. We walked to them to try to get acclimated to walking at high altitudes. We all live in DC and Cusco is more than 11,000 above sea level. It was slow going up hill. Along the way we saw some women washing their clothes in a creek.

The first site we visited was Sacsayhuaman (pronounced sexy woman). It’s 3,600 meters above sea level and means satisfied falcon. It has massive stone walls, and foundations of some buildings that the Spanish tore down to build the churches in the Plaza de Armas. The Incas built Cusco and the surrounding area to be in the shape of a puma, and Sacsayhuaman was the teeth.

Here you can kind of see the zigzagging of the walls for the teeth. The wall is a thousand feet long with three levels. The largest stone is 28 feet high and weighs 360 tons. At the top there were temples and storehouses that the Spanish dismantled. After the Spaniards overran the Incan empire they occupied Cusco. Manco Inca, the puppet emperor who escaped, led a revolt. There was a massive battle here and the Spaniards overran the natives with their horses and superior armor, securing Cusco.

There is a plant called muña or mint that the natives use to help them breath better at the higher elevations. This is what I’m smelling in the first picture. I used it some more later in the trip, and I feel it helped some. It smelled good at any rate.

We then went to Q’enko, a short walk from Sacsayhuaman. Q’enko means maize with lots of returns is much smaller than Sacsayhuaman. Supposedly it was a ceremonial center and place for rituals. There is an amphitheater at the top that has 19 windows that were used to worship. There was a group of Peruvian high schoolers who wanted to take their pictures with us, so we took at least 20 pictures with them.

There were two stone walls next to each other that Tom and I tried to climb The Emperor’s New Groove style, but it didn’t work as well as it did in the movie.

On our walk back to Cusco we saw these people were playing soccer next to some other ruins.

We made our way back to Cusco, huffing and puffing due from the elevation. We ate dinner at a little place that wasn’t bad, although their avocado salad was basically an avocado with a few pieces of lettuce thrown in.

Here is Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6 Part 1, Part 2, Day 7, Day 8


JennyW said...

This looks really interesting Warren—thanks for the travelogue!