Monday, September 8
Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep
Dear Alarm Clock, I realize your going to be haunting me for the rest of my life, but please I am on vacation, give it a rest.
We wake at the Airport this time, in an effort to sleep in, all we have to do is walk across the street, is 5 a.m. sleeping in? Breakfast then off to the airport, there is not much to tell you about our hotel, it’s just a hotel in front of a big airport, a Ramada Inn to be exact. This morning we are leaving for the city of Cusco, Peru, we should arrive around 11 a.m., good flight, very efficient, of course I believe every flight that takes off and lands safely is a good flight.
As I am sure you already know, Lima is basically at sea level, not Cusco. Cusco is approximately at 11,200 ft. And I felt it immediately upon deplaning. Seriously, we were told that the elevation in Cusco would affect us, but I didn’t really believe it. Wow, was I wrong, just walking off the plane onto the jetway, I felt dizzy, light headed, you could definitely tell the air is thinner. In fact, in the baggage area, they are booths selling canned air for those who are having a hard time breathing. We are going to be here for a couple of days specifically to get acclimated to the elevation. From what I can see so far, it is a beautiful city, sort of like an old run down Florence, Italy
We are met by one of our guides, his name is Edzel. Edzel works for Tambo Tours a tour company that we worked with to put out trip together, they are located in Houston, Texas. They did an excellent job in putting our trip together. Edzel, is a very friendly guy, a bit older and clearly knows all about Cusco and it’s history. He escorted us to our hotel and took time to ensure we were all checked in, then a briefing. I know it sounds all cloak and dagger, James Bondy sort of stuff, but it wasn’t. It was nothing more than to share with us the days plan.
Before I go on, lets have a little Cusco history lesson…..
Cusco (often spelled Cuzco); and in Quechua it’s written as Qusqu. Is a city in southeastern region of Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cusco Province. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cusco, its altitude is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft).
Cusco was the site of the historic capital of theInca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. It is a major tourist destination and receives almost 1.5 million visitors a year. It is designated as the Historical Capital of Peru by the Constitution of Peru.
The Killke occupied the region from 900 to 1200, prior to the arrival of the Incas in the 13th century. Carbon-14 dating of Sacsayhuaman, the walled complex outside Cusco, has demonstrated that the Killke culture constructed the fortress about 1100. The Inca later expanded and occupied the complex in the 13th century and after. On 13 March 2008, archaeologists discovered the ruins of an ancient temple, roadway and acqueduct system at Sacsayhuaman (Pronounce it like “sexywoman”) This find plus the results of excavations in 2007, when another temple was found at the edge of the fortress, indicates religious as well as military use of the facility.
Cusco was the capital of theInca Empire (13th century-1532). Many believe that the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal in the Incan culture. Under the Inca, the city had two sectors: the urin and hanan. Each was further divided to encompass two of the four provinces,Chinchasuyu (NW),Antisuyu (NE),Qontisuyu (SW) and Collasuyu (SE). A road led from each of these quarters to the corresponding quarter of the empire. Each local leader was required to build a house in the city and live part of the year in Cusco, but only in the quarter that corresponded to the quarter of the empire in which he had territory. After the rule of Pachacuti, when an Inca died, his title went to one son and his property was given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives (the process was called split inheritance). Each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire, in order to own the land his family needed to maintain after his death.
According to Inca legend, the city was built bySapa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cusco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tahuantinsuyu. Archaeological evidence, however, points to a slower, more organic growth of the city beginning before Pachacuti. The city was constructed according to a definite plan, and two rivers were channeled around the city. Archaeologists have suggested the city plan was replicated at other sites throughout the empire.
The city fell to the sphere of Huascar in the division of the empire after the death of Huayna Capac in 1527. It was captured by the generals of Atahualpa in April 1532 in the Battle of Quipaipan. Nineteen months later, Spanish explorers invaded the city.
Cusco after the Spanish invasion
Wall bases of the Old Incan Buildings
The first Spaniards arrived in the city on 15 November 1533. /Francisco Pizarro officially arrived in Cusco on 23 March 1534, renaming it the “Very noble and great city of Cuzco”. The many buildings constructed after the Hispanic invasion have a mixture of Spanish influence with Inca indigenous architecture, including the Santa Clara and San Blas neighborhoods. The Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of a new city. Cusco stands on layers of cultures, with the old Tawantinsuyu built on Killke structures, and the Spanish having replaced indigenous temples with Catholic churches, and palaces with mansions for the invaders.
Cusco was the center for the Spanish colonization and spread of Christianity in the Andean world. It became very prosperous thanks to agriculture, cattle raising, and mining as well as the trade with Spain. The Spanish colonists constructed many churches and convents, as well as a cathedral, university and Archbishopric. Just as the Inca built on top of Killke structures, Spanish buildings were based on the massive stone walls built by the Inca.
A major earthquake on 21 May 1950 caused severe localized damage in Cusco. The Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of the impressive Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun), were among the colonial era buildings affected. The city’s Inca architecture, however, withstood the earthquake. Many of the old Inca walls were at first thought to have been lost after the earthquake, but the granite retaining walls of the Qoricancha were exposed, as well as those of other ancient structures throughout the city. Restoration work at the Santo Domingo complex was conducted in such a way as to expose the Inca masonry formerly obscured by the super-structure without compromising the integrity of the colonial heritage. Cusco had also been the center of a major earthquake in 1650, and again in 1950 many of the buildings had been damaged.
Back to the days events…
Note the stone size and that they are carved to fit
We have about a half a day left and we are on our way out for a 4 hour private tour of the locals ruins and archaeological sites of Cusco. We met our Guide for the day, Betto. A very friendly guy, and clearly knowledgeable about the city and it’s history. Our first stop was Sacsayhuaman (Pronounce it like “sexywoman”), we also visited Qengo, Puk Pukara and Tambomachay and each of these for the purpose it was built right down to sacrificial purposes. Sacsayhuaman, is an awesome site, and much bigger than you can imagine or that the pictures actually show. The immense fortress was built using huge stone blocks. The Incas told the Spaniards that they weren’t the ones who built it, but “the giants” built it. In their mythology there were huge people living in Cusco area and they carried the huge stone blocks and put them together. The size of these stones range from 50 tons, up to 120 tons. Hard to imagine how the Incas would have done this, and don’t forget that the Incas did not know the wheel, they did not write either. There are ruins all around Cusco and it is fascinating to tour them, I hope I get a chance to come back some day.
Well it is getting late in the day, time to go back to our Hotel, The Casa Andina, which by the way is a very nice place. We only have about an hour, so what to do, well the Bar of course, there must be a pisco sour waiting for me. Tomorrow, we have a long day, River Rafting down the Urubama River. Our guides for the rafting trip joined us at Casa Andina to brief us on what is expected. More on this trip tomorrow. It is now about 8:30 and we are starving, off to dinner.
Countdown to Guinea Pig ~ Day 4,
UPDATE ~ GUINEA PIG ~ UPDATE
Well as it turns out, we only made it to day 4 before someone did it. Now if you don’t know, Guinea Pig is a signature, specialty dish in Peru. Also called Cuy. We knew this before we left and joked about eating Guinea Pig, and I was determined to try it. In Cusco there are guinea pig farms, raising all these little critters just so you can enjoy eating them. When it was delivered to the table, it was plated very nicely, you might not even realize what it was until the unveiling. The head of the Guinea Pig was covered with a Tomato, once the Tomato was removed you could see it’s little head, with it’s teeth bared like a little rodent. My god, all the girls at the table shrieked and were a bit freaked out by it, it was hilarious. The plate was removed from the table, taken away to make it appear less like the animal it was, it was returned all chopped up to enjoy. I will say it is an acquired taste. And not one I wish to acquire, it was gamey, oily, and tasted dirty to me. I wonder if that is just my perception of eating a rodent, wouldn’t all rodents taste dirty? Boun Apetite.
|Guinea Pig, also called Cuy|