10 February 2014
Day 1 Today our tour manager advised that we had a pretty long day on the bus as we were travelling from Puno to Cusco. Surprisingly we had slept as the festival and the marching band underneath our hotel windows only lasted a short while. Jem and I managed to make breakfast which is a feat all on its own because by the time we get up and both manage to pack and use the bathroom we are well and truly out of time for breakfast. Some of the hotels in Peru have very basic breakfasts (fruit, eggs with chopped up sausage, hard bread rolls). Every now and then though you will hit the jackpot and there will be eggs and soft bread (my tube of Vegemite is getting a good work out!! – thanks to my wonderful boyfriend 🙂 ).
Coming down from altitude as we made our way from Puno down to Cusco was almost an immediate change in terms of the sinus and head pressure from the altitude. My ears started to unblock. We stopped not too far from Puno, maybe an hour or so out of town and we visited a small town and just about wiped out one shop of all it’s water and medicine. Some medicine purchases were legit, some medicine purchases involved 300 tablets of Valium equivalent. Good luck getting that back into your country mate :).
We hit the road again and we were on our way to Cusco. The town we stopped in was a village called Pukara, named after a pre-Inca civilisation. The village is renowned for artistic ceramic bulls which are symbols for protection and prosperity, they adorn the roofs of houses in the village. I was lucky enough to win a twin set of these bulls – which sadly did not make the journey home in my luggage. But for a good two days I felt pretty protected ;).
We had a stop at the sign for the third and highest point for our trip. It was called La Raya and it marks the border between the regions of Puno and Cusco, it is surrounded by the Andes and is absolutely stunning as you can see the Peruvian altiplano (the widest point of the Andes). We then visited some Incan ruins after our delicious lunch of bread rolls with avocado and cheese and play time with vicunas and llamas.
The town was called Sicuani and then headed onto Raqchi. Raqchi was an important ceremonial site for the Inca’s and it is famous for being the home to the only remaining two-storey Inca walls. It also possesses one of the larges single structures of the ancient incan empire, the Temple of Wiracocha.
We spent a couple of hours walking amongst these structures and then for the sinners among our group, we were ‘blessed’ and ‘cleansed’ with this pure water. Not enough water in the world, hey Jem? ;).
We checked into our super adorable hotel, with gorgeous views from our rooms out over Cusco, went and had delicious dinner – loaded this poor lady full of laundry etc and slept!
Day 2 This morning we had a walking city tour of Cusco. Not everyone made the tour due to their partying the night before ;). We started off with a museum which, although structurally interesting as it was the original inca buildings, I just could not concentrate.
Our guide was not someone who was entirely engaging and museums bother me when I have to go at a group pace. Especially with questions etc. I like to (when I go to museums) go in at my own pace and look at what I want to look at. I stuck around for the start where we went to San Blas, Calle Hatunrumiyoc and visited the Plaza de Armas. Adorable pedestrian streets with Inca walls where huge stones were precisely carved to fit together without any mud or concrete, it is actually amazing! The elite lived in this stone houses and there is barely a gap to be seen.
In an interesting twist, the Spanish that seemed so hell bent on completely wiping out this culture of people, actually kept some of these walls as the foundations for their buildings (post-conquest of course).
I started to crave a bit of alone time, I get really claustrophobic, so…being really anti-cultural, I ducked out. I needed a coffee and some quiet time. You know, drink coffee, people watch – write postcards. It’s a rare occasion that I forget to write or send postcards two weeks into a trip! After the museum we were taken to a little place to eat empanadas, which I skipped because I was full of coffee.
They looked a bit samosa-ish though. A few of us mentioned that it felt like beer o’clock. Our tour then took is through the San Pedro market and Monica, being worlds GREATEST tour guide took my poor one arm missing sunglasses and had them fixed and basically refused payment.
We would have been completely lost without Monica, I love her. The markets took a great turn through cheese and bread and then a very bad turn through the dead animal section. There was no warning and about four of us steamrolled our way through the rest of it. One minute you are wondering in the many varieties of “corms” (corn) and then – pow! animal heads and carcases for days! Hooray!! We had a couple of unsuspecting vegetarians and I tell you what, I happily eat meat and I almost passed out. Different strokes for different folks….
Next stop was a chocolate “factory” (shop) and we sampled chilli hot chocolates and cocoa plant infused tea. We were meant to head over to the llama factory (wool not meat thankfully) but it was all starting to feel a bit rushed and less holiday.
So four of us decided on staying on at the chocolate place. Ate brownies and then went on the hunt for postcards and stamps for said postcards. A search for a burger for one of us led to a wonderful five our girl chat overlooking the centre square. It was nice and relaxing and made it feel like vacation. Way to be awesome at sangria Cusco.
We had an included dinner which was in this Italian / Peruvian fusion place.
We had quinoa soup (officially obsessed with it now), vegetable quinoa risotto and tiramisu. Along with some pretty tasty Peruvian red wine. We picked up a bottle of red wine on the way home and Jem even held my hand on the walk home. Simply because I had a bit of the case of the home sick Sads.
I’m someone who is always hugging my mum and stepdad when I’m home and my dog and of course being so far away from them kind of made it worse. It was like a friendship recharge button though :). Early bed for next day! I love Cusco – I would go back in a heart beat.
Our group really had developed its own heartbeat, we had a really good energy and it was amazing to share all these amazing experiences with each other. Unfortunately our tour group would be split twice over the course of our 4 week trip and would lose some amazing personalities! All part of travelling though 🙂 and memories to last a lifetime.