So....vacation of a lifetime. Stateside. Lima, Peru. Cusco, Peru. Inca Trail. Machu Picchu. Aguas Calientes. Quito, Ecuador. Galapagos Islands. Equator. Stateside. and it was AWESOME!
A little city of slightly less than 1/2 million people in southeastern Peru, in the Andes mountains. It sits at approximately 11,200 feet (3,400 m). Cusco served as the capital of the Incan Empire from the 13th to 16th century until the Incas were defeated by the Spanish Conquistadors....all 167 of them. After defeating the Incan Empire, the Spanish were determined to erase all memories of the Incan Empire.....to which they were only partially successful. Today Peru is known for tourism, silver, alpaca wool and agriculture including barley, quinoa, corn, tea and coffee. Probably one of the more known teas is coca tea, which is used both by brewing from the leaves as well as chewing on the leaves directly to ward off the effects of altitude sickness.
|Handicrafts are plentiful|
We took a city tour during our first day in Cusco to help us acclimate to the high elevation. We visited Saksaywaman complex which was build by the indigenous people of the Killke culture and improved on by the Incas. Cusco is the former capital of the Incan Empire, its name meaning "navel" in Quechua, fitting for a city that remains at the center of Andean culture.
|Sacsayhuaman; Elevation 11,152 feet|
Plaza de Armes, known as the "Square of the warrior" in the Inca era, but after defeating the Incas, the Spanish built stone arcades around the plaza that are still there, the main cathedral and the Church of La Compañía.
Cusco Cathedral, is an impressive building that symbolizes the superiority that the Spanish Conquistadors felt they had over the Incas once they had conquered the Incan Empire. Much of the Incan infrastructure was destroyed by the Spanish, to be rebuilt in Spanish architecture. The catch? Although the Spanish conquered the Incas, there weren't very many of them and they hired Inca to build the new Spanish buildings. The Incas, having a sense of humor (or just hating the Spanish that much) often incorporated their own symbolism or "jokes" into the architecture.
I wanted to try a few new food items while traveling because, well because I love food. Guinea pig is the delicacy that is served for big celebrations. I was a little nervous about eating guinea pig before embarking on my 4 day hike and I actually missed out on trying this delicacy this trip. I guess I'll have to go back...darn! I did try alpaca and Cusequena beer, which is brewed right there in Cusco. I really liked both.