Cusco, wish I had the stomach for you…

You know there’s something not quite right when I have no desire to drink wine or any other alcohol for that matter.  Cusco’s altitude has been tough to manage.  The very second I got off the plane, I thought I would fall I was so dizzy, as did Heather.  After checking in to the hotel, I took one picture of the church outside our hotel, ate lunch with our group then took to my bed for pretty much the rest of the day.  Not fun at all.   Lunch consisted of water, Coca tea, papaya juice, salad and chicken soup.

We are very fortunate to have a Physician in our party and Dr. Chris has done an excellent job of running around our rooms taking care of us over the last 48 hrs, generously dispensing medication and advice.  I know I’m not super fit but when you are out of breath after climbing 1 flight of stairs, it’s not good!  I’ve never felt anything quite like it in my life.

At 7am we were awoken by what sounded like gunfire right outside our room…. was a coup taking place?!  Were people being shot?  Funnily enough in the 5 different hotel rooms being occupied by our party, unbeknownst to each other, we all declared it being just like home.  At 7.42 it happened again!  Turns out, it was fireworks (in the morning?!) that preempted a religious parade/festival in the square.  It’s Sunday after all…

We had plans to do a tour for the morning so we got in our private van and headed up the hill.  Aaagh, to a higher altitude.  Our first stop was to the archeological sight of Saqsayhuaman, that everyone likes to joke about it sounding like “sexy woman”, a beautiful sight that afforded us a stunning view of Cusco but also required us to chew on Coca leaves due to more altitude issues and my poor mother really felt it and had to keep sitting down.  Our British stoicism has been no match for the altitude.

So, in full disclosure, this blog is never going to be a history lesson.  I’m the type of person whose eyes glaze over when things get too historically detailed.  I may even bring in a guest blogger, Lucas, to add that dimension to the chronicling of this adventure.  However, our guide did a good job of pointing out interesting details and when I wasn’t too busy marveling at the cloud formations, mountains and amazing views of Cusco, I did pick up some fascinating facts.

At the site entrance, then a picture of Cindy finding out the hard way that alpacas spit when you get too close!  The last picture is of a map showing that the city of Cusco was laid out originally in the shape of a puma:

Exploring the site:

In the bottom two left photos, can you spot the layout of the stones in the shape of a llama and a guinea pig?

At the top!  Our view over Cusco…(it was Derek’s turn to take a rest)

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Our next stop was an Alpaca factory/store where we learnt about the different types of wool.  I was too busy trying things on to take pictures and they were successful in their attempts to help me part ways with my money.  Enough said….except to say that my new Baby Alpaca poncho is quite lovely.

Our last stop was to another site, Q’uepa.  The one part of it that really stuck out for me was seeing the sacrificial altar where the Incans sacrificed llamas and virgins between the ages of 4 and 12, to help prevent “calamities”.

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Back down in Cusco, we split up for lunch.  Whenever I’m planning a trip, the first thing I usually research is where I’m going to eat!  As I finally had a bit of an appetite we went to Morena Peruvian Kitchen and it did not disappoint.  A lovely fresh minimalist decor punctuated by vibrantly colored cushions and delicious Peruvian food served with a contemporary flair.  We enjoyed Ceviche, Nikkei kebabs, Fried shrimp Causa, Trout with Quinoa and Pork Belly with fried Rice.  We couldn’t resist dessert sharing fried banana fritters with honey caramel sauce and ice cream.

After this lovely lunch, which we declared very reasonably priced only to quickly remind ourselves that we had lemongrass lemonade instead of alcohol, we headed out to wander.  The sunny hot day had disappeared and rain had set in only to be interrupted by sunny spells again, particularly towards sunset.  We visited various shops and every time we came out of one the square looked different.  It was so beautiful!

Whilst browsing the shops, I channeled my late grandmother Apple and picked out a “statement” ring as my birthday present from my mother.  Apple would have got a kick out of that as she typically did the same thing on her travels around the world.

Dinner took us to La Manka and unfortunately our too brisk walk there rendered me nauseous and breathless once again.  Dr. Chris to the rescue again!  A pill for that was produced and I was able to eat a quinoa salad despite wanting something more than that.  I was a bit too out of it to take pictures but simply have to include some of the entertainment including Lucas joining in the dancing as well as Dr. Chris having a well earned local cocktail and DJ celebrating Rajun Cajun being named as one of the top new restaurants in Virginia!

Walk back to the hotel after a busy day!

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