Saturday, February 2, 2013

Peru - last day in Cuzco, Part 1

  Since I'd been at this little hotel for almost a week the staff preparing breakfast had figured out 1)coffee, not tea.  2)Make a small pot (strong) then cut it with hot water to ease their trend to make it strong enough for a spoon to stand up.  3) 2 raw sugars.  4) that I would drink about the whole pot if I had time, but would take a travel mug with me for the rest of it.  5)I don't like yak milk. Yak milk is pink!  6) Breakfast for me was fruit, yogurt and cereal.  No cooking required.

 My last full day in Cuzco started at my hotel where my new tour guide arrived at 8 a.m.  Maria is a native of Cuzco, speaks English, Spanish, and Quecha fluently.  I was really surprised to find that my day was just the 2 of us and a driver.  It was a beautiful sunny day when we departed the hotel ready for another adventure.

 Cuzco was the ancient capital of Peru and dates back to Incan times.  I had walked a bit of the old city (where my hotel was) but having Maria with me for the day was great.  She knew the history, the legends, the new city, and all the places I asked about.

The old town square dominates ancient Cuzco and this is where the best examples of Inca construction is to be found, except for the ruins in Machu Picchu.  The forts and churches there were built on top of the Inca stonework and today is a major attraction.

 From the city square 7 different churches can be seen, representing multiple religions.  While Catholic seems to be the most prominent, a multitude of  others are there.

The churches are open to the public at certain times, but not the day I was there.  

The fort built over the Inca ruins dates back to the days of the Spanish conquerors.  The conquerors couldn't believe what they found when they invaded and the construction was so massive they couldn't see any reason to destroy it and rebuild.  Plus the blocks of stones were so massive the invaders didn't know how to move or destroy it.

So they incorporated the Inca buildings into their own.

The forts were turned into the administrative center of Cuzco then into the center of the tourist industry. 

The lego type construction used by t he Inca.

As the conquerors tried to build in and around the Inca stonework attempts to dismantle it revealed how the stonework was put together.

Like Lego building blocks, everything fit together with stone pegs and holes.  The next generations moving into the area left it alone and just built on top of it.  Even a large earthquake that hit in the 20th century didn't budge what had been built in ancient times. 

The connections have the appearance of being precised machined.  I'm sorry, a human hand with a copper chisel and no math did not do this.

In one of the fortifications this gold sheet tells of the people and their lives.

Sitting on a perfect rock wall looking over modern Cuzco.

The modern city of Cuzco sprawls into the distance.  Compared to the elegance of Inca construction it looks clumsy and disorganized.

Mid-day and I was hungry.  I asked Maria for a local restaurant after she rattled off several 'American' selections.  She led me through a shopping area in the old town, then down, down, and down again until she opened the door to this tiny little eatery buried almost 4 floors under the city streets.  The menu was on a chalkboard with today's selection. There was a tiny bar in one corner.  It was bustling with business people and students. 

Today's choices included spaghetti, pumpkin soup and a fish dish.  I had the pumpkin soup and fish.  Pumpkin soup is served cold!  Maria had never heard of pumpkin pie. The meal came with lemonade and water.  It wasn't bad and inexpensive.  According to Maria it was a family business passed through the generations.  The menu gets put up every day and everything that is served as much as possible was local grown or caught.  At night the bar is opened and it was a local favorite.

Our driver dropped us there and returned an hour later for our next adventure.

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