The Sacred Valley, Part I: Cusco

I love Cusco.  Way way more than anticipated.  First off, the city is huge.  We didn’t even realize how huge until we schlepped up to Sacsayhuaman [pronounced “sexy woman”] and saw the very small area we had actually covered.  Minds blown.

The first day we flew in I was immediately feeling the altitude.  I was short of breath and in general felt like crap.  First order of business:  find cocoa tea.  It’s important to note that, yes, this is the plant used to make cocain, but cocoa leaves are not cocain!  The actual leaf is used commonly in the region to help adapt to the altitude by reducing nausea, and giving you energy, and vitamins.  Totally legal.  Still, I hope I don’t get a drug test anytime soon because that will be difficult to explain…

Anyway, cocoa tea and food helped me immensly and I never had a problem again.  Until I got a cold and a fever on the third day of hiking…

Cusco reminded of an old European town- the streets were narrow, had cobbled streets, the buildings were low- no more than two or three stories beside the Cathedral and churches.  No building looked the same- each was outfitted with unique moldings, colors, doors, everything.  There were numerous textile, food, and clothes markets.  Sure, the constant haggling can get annoying [if I had another woman asked me if I wanted a massage I might have flipped], but it adds to the experience.  That is their lifestyle- they buy from markets just how we buy from department stores.  Same concept, different culture.

I never had a bad meal or pisco sour here either.  These people mean business with their food, and you certainly wont go hungry.  They also like to party.  At first we thought they didn’t- we were wandering around at 11/12 o’clock and things seemed to be closing.  Little did we know the real party starts up around 1/1:30 and goes all night.  Cusco is a party animal.

We were in Cusco for about 3.5 days total and I could have used another day.  There were still areas I hadn’t explored yet, and museums I wanted to go visit, but we certainly saw our fair share.  Some highlights for me would be:  The Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman, San Pedro Market [delicious fresh fruit and vegetable juices and a delicious lunch of soup, rice, beans, and fish for 4 soles, aka $1.50], Chocolate Museum [need I say more?], and the San Blas area- very ‘hipster’, if you will, with lots of great cafes, bars, and shops.

Now, for some pictures:

 

 

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