A warmmm welcome from Cusco, Peru, a place that’s nestling itself nicely amongst my top five favourite places. A quirky hubbub amongst the rocky terrain that hums with life both day and night. The cool temperatures make it perfect for a cuppa hot coca tea (a brother leaf of the cocaine plant that is grown in the surrounding areas and is amazing for helping with altitude sickness) and a cuddle with a lamb or baby goat which you will find being carried around by the local grandmas. If you’ve ever been to Pai, Thailand then you can imagine that Cusco is just a grander version with better infrastructure- but still has that cosy mountain feel with everyone bundled up in hippie clothing and woolly hats. If you haven’t been to Pai then just imagine a town with half Inca half colonial buildings and little side streets that lead to quirky little cafes/restaurants and shops selling everything alpaca from hats, gloves, scarves, jumpers, leggings, shoes, bags— pretty much everything you can think of. I have somehow managed to acquire a ginormous and super heavy Alpaca rug/throw that definitely doesn’t fit in my bag and probably uses up my whole weight allowance- but yano treat yo’self and all that? As for the altitude- you can DEFINITELY feel it. We are currently at a height of 3,399m and it makes even the smallest tasks feel strenuous; dressing, showering, even laughing leaves you feeling a little breathless. It is recommended that you arrive a few days before you trek so you can acclimatise and not going to lie I was feeling all kinds of odd yesterday morning, shaky, a little dizzy and just generally out of sorts. But after a bit of food (well, actually a lot of food… the food here is pretty amazing) and a well enjoyed bit of shopping I felt all dandy again.
Now for a brief bit ‘o’ learning — (Only a little bit, but feel free to scroll past it if you’re hungover and can’t be dealing with ancient history right now)
As for the locals, they average at about 5 foot and potter around this incredible town here, there and everywhere knowing everything like the back of their hand. Some of the children are remarkably Inca-looking and it’s so fascinating to see that although we are in modern times the culture still remains somewhat intact- despite a lot of the town’s history being buried beneath the paths and roads that we all walk upon today. It is easy however, to distinguish the Inca from the Spanish style as the Spanish technique for wall building will always include mortar between slabs of stone, whereas the Inca walls are built with stone with perfectly flush edges that slot together like shapes in Tetris. The way in which the Incas managed this is an unanswerable question that has confused officials for years, as is how they actually managed to manoeuvre the rocks in the first place; some of which are the size of cars and weigh tons. Their superior architectural and engineering abilities continue to marvel to this day and this is why Machu Picchu is considered one of the seven wonders of the world.
Interesting stuff hey!!! We learnt a bunch of golden wisdom from our free walking tour guide Diego who provided a super fun and and light hearted trip around the town whilst incorporating the necessary info to enable you to fully appreciate the uniqueness of your surroundings. We started the tour in the Plaza De Armas, learning a bit about the city centre before moving off down a little side road and arriving in a grassy square where we listened to a beautifully dressed native play the most amazing meditational music on a number of weird and wonderful instruments. After grabbin’ a few of his CDs we continued on our way, it was learning and sightseeing galore until we finally finished up at an awesome rooftop bar with a free shot of Pisco sour (a local shot consisting of pisco alcohol, syrup, lime juice and an egg white) super delicious and a perfect steady to the weird effect the altitude was having on my body.
We are staying at Atawkama hostel which averages out at about £4.20 a night- yassss just the type of price I like to pay. It’s incredibly cosy, adopting a no bunk beds lay out which makes you feel you’re having a sleepover in your nan’s attic. Creaky floorboards, low ceilings and little windows, rickety walkways and balconies that look out onto the surrounding mountains all help add to the charm. They provide a (pretty poor but) filling breakfast of eggs or pancake, bread and spreads– but for a gluten freedo like me there’s supermarkets all around that sell oats or quinoa flakes and the hostel has a kitchen including a fridge and a microwave so porridge is an easy fix. The wifi is strong unlike the showers, so there’s a mix of things to be said about this hostel, but it’s fulfilled its purpose so that’s all that matters and I’m an easy gal to please.
I’ve got The Lumineers on repeat and I’m nibbling on some soft salted corn kernels (try and say that 5x as fast), theres actually 3,000 varieties of corn here and I’m all over it.
Anyway, enough rambling from me!
Sleep well loves