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March 20, 2006

Cusco

An alpine start brought us to the airport at 6am, but as is typical for Cusco, our flight had a weather delay—the windows of good flying weather over the Andes are limited and delays are common, especially later in the day. We were lucky to have gotten an early flight and only were held up for about an hour.

We kicked around Cusco, checking out some markets and cafes Margaret had recommended and toured the church of San Francisco (no photos allowed inside), which really was incredible.

Cusco historically was the Inca capital, literally the Center of the World, until the Spaniards busted through—turning sacred temples into churches and luxury homes, and sending relics back to the king. He became increasingly aware that he was destroying a rather advanced culture, and rather than have the world discover this, he instead melted all of the gold artifacts and put his own seal on them, destroying all evidence of the power of the Inca civilization.

Lunch was an adventurous prix fixe meal at a local vegy place—fennel vegy soup that Greg liked but I didn´t much care for, lentils, beans, rice. Dinner was pizza since my stomach was a little off—you can find pizza anywhere in Peru, it seems.

We topped the night off with a trip to the MAP museum of pre-Columbian art, at Margaret´s suggestion. Beautiful examples of timeless artifacts like bowls, staffs, plates and jewelry.

Cusco overall is quaint, ancient, dated—and yet, modern. Streets are narrow and cobblestoned. Taxis are all Ticus, which are wannabe cars about the size of a rollerskate—but nothing larger really can navigate the streets, although they try. Doors in the city could date back 400 years. And still, like Lima, everything is locked. You don´t see into people´s homes, the outer wall of the compound is on the street and generally opens into a family courtyard. Even the payphones are behind bars, with the receiver chained to the base. One has to wonder whether the Incas had to worry about theft before the Spaniards came?

Posted by sedda at March 20, 2006 07:17 PM