Red roofs, llamas and hidden symbols ...
Even though I am backtracking to the past 2 weeks, thought I should still write about this fabulous place called Cuzco.
From Arequipa and the Colca Canyon, Brel and I set off to Cuzco. My Lonely Planet says that Cuzco is the heart of what was once the mighty INCA EMPIRE (Cuzco actually means NAVEL OF THE EARTH in Quetchua). It is a beautiful colonial city (with its famous red roofs) built on hefty Inca stone foundations.
Check out the view from our hotel with the Main Plaza in the middle:
All the churches are built on top of old Inca temples (thanks to the Spanish who wanted to colonize the indigenous and therefore get rid of their temples). The streets are of cobblestone (you can feel that each stone was placed precisely) and they twist all over the city and always seem to be climbing up and up and up. Soooo steep!
We puffed and puffed our way around the narrow passages and mysterious streets, climbing up and up ... all the way to the CHRISTO BLANCO who sits on top of the mountain, protecting the entire city. Check out the real llama who happened to be there when I passed by ...
Brel did some horse backriding up here (of course!).
The view of Cuzco from here up is quite amazing (definitely worth climbing all the stairs):
The indigenous are the majority here but still must constantly fight for their rights. We arrived in the middle of a demonstration (seems very common in the big Latin American cities).
I am of course, as always, fascinated by the women ...
and the llamas that are all over this city. Women bring them along , with their kids (dressed in traditional costume) so as to make money with the tourists who want to take pictures. Nothing is free in Peru, evrything has a price.
And one night we were walking and walking and found this wall of cactus. Anything is possible here. Lots of surprises ...
I'm sorry, but more roofs. Ok I am obsessed!
There indigenous women and children in full costume. Yes, they actually wear these incredible "clothes" everyday. And you see them working their piece of land, walking their animals and doing everything they do, dressed like this.
Could not resist this pose:
And coming down from the mountain we had an encounter with a llama. He was running away and I was able to catch him. Such funny animals.
Even the llamas (females) wear big earings! The indigenous make up most of the population, the tourists the rest I think. Lots of tourists here!!!! The street names are being switched back from spanish to Quetchua spelling. So great! (The Spanish had changed everything to Spanish, of course).
There are still Inca walls present all over the city and they are really incredible!!! Large stones that fit into one another (like puzzle pieces). They didn't use any cement of any sort. The stones were just fitted into one another.
We have read so many legends and stories of the Incas and their gods, the sun (Inti), the mountains and la Pacha Mama that it almost feels like they are still present here in Peru. There are traces of them everywhere, walls, stones, hiden symbols. Those are my favourite. Something called SINCRETISMO which is the fusion of two cultures, the Spanish and the Inca, indigenous. When the Spanish arrived in Peru, in Cuzco, they wanted to catholicize the people and so aside from building churches to cover all Inca temples, they asked indigenous artists to paint saints, the Virgin etc. And so these indigenous artists did it but always managed to insert their own symbols...SO GOOD!!!! I took a tour of the Cathedral in Cuzco where there are a lot of these paintings, the most famous one being the LAST SUPPER. If you look at it carefully, you can't help but notice the big plump guiney pig in the center of the table. The guiney pig, or CUY is part of the indigenous people's diet (still today. All indigenous kitchens have live guiney pigs roaming around). There are a lot of CYUERIAS where you can eat the little rodent.... I tried it. They like to tell us tourists, that there is no cholesterol!!!
Also in the Cathedral I saw the virgins always painted in the shape of a mountain (their Pacha mama), traces of corn in the decorations and even the red crest of the condor disguised as ribbons....
Cuzco is also the place where I have had the best Capuccino. I know, i know it sounds crazy but Brel and I mostly go local when we eat but once in a while a good capuccino can't hurt. The yummiest, with lots of foam (heavy enough that it doesn't sink) sprinklled with chocolate and served in a gorgeous handmade ceramic cup ....ah the little things ....
Hasta luego Cuzco.