Cusco – The Search For Baby Llamas

It’s been a while since we came back from Peru, but I finally got some time to work on the blog!

We arrived in Lima to just spend the night and meet up with Hanna and Thomas who were brave to join us on this very packed itinerary. We did have a sightseeing day in Lima at the end of the trip, so that blog post will be the last one.

The next morning we took an early flight to the city of Cuzco. The undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, Cuzco is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city and the gateway to Machu Picchu.

The hotel was excellent, the bed size was something we have never seen before!

This was the view from our hotel.

We started sightseeing in the city almost immediately after arriving. We prioritized our (mostly Hanna’s) main objective for this trip…. take as many photos with Llamas or Alpacas as possible.

Women with their cute animals are EVERYWHERE! They, of course, will ask for money for the photos.  Hanna did not discriminate and took a photo with every Llama in existence in Cusco.

We found a really cute baby Alpaca and a baby goat!

Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th-century Spanish conquest. In 1983, Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO with the title “City of Cuzco”. It has become a major tourist destination, hosting nearly 2 million visitors a year.

Buildings constructed after the Spanish invasion in the 1500s have a mixture of Spanish influence with Inca indigenous architecture. The Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of a new city. Father Vincente de Valverde became the Bishop of Cusco and built his cathedral facing the plaza.

Known as the “Square of the warrior” in the Inca era, this plaza has been the scene of several important events, such as the proclamation by Francisco Pizarro in the conquest of Cuzco. Similarly, the Plaza de Armas was the scene of the death of Túpac Amaru II, considered the indigenous leader of the resistance. The Spanish built stone arcades around the plaza which endure to this day.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, also known as Cusco Cathedral, is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cusco. The cathedral is located on the Plaza de Armas. The entire building was built between 1560-1654.

There was a nice art flee market on one of the streets. The paintings were beautiful!

We stopped for a nice lunch at one of the best restaurants in the city. The beautiful thing about traveling to cheaper countries is that we can afford the best restaurants!

As capital to the Inca Empire, Cusco was an important agricultural region. It was a natural reserve for thousands of native Peruvian species, including around 3,000 varieties of potato cultivated by the people. Fusion and neo-Andean restaurants developed in Cusco, in which the cuisine is prepared with modern techniques and incorporates a blend of traditional Andean and international ingredients. We tried a couple dishes, including Alpaca steak which was not that good.  At least we now know that no more Alpacas have to die in vain.

We continued walking around the city and stopping at souvenir shops. Somehow Sarah looks more Mongolian than Peruvian with this hat.

Cusco is a hybrid city, with Incan and Spanish colonial history constantly coming into contact and mixing in truly unique ways. One way in which the Incan legacy is still visible is with the Inca walls that are scattered throughout the city, structures so strong and masterfully crafted that they have endured for centuries and multiple earthquakes that have destroyed the city!

The wall on the right-hand side belongs to Amarucancha, or the ‘Courtyard of the Serpents.’ Its haunting name derives from the pair of snakes carved at the lintel of the doorway near the end of the enclosure. Amarucancha marks the site of the palace of the 11th Inca, Huayna Capac, and the church of La Compañía was built here after the Conquest.

The Incas did not need to use cement firstly because the adjoining surfaces between two adjacent blocks fit so perfectly together, and also because stones were interlocked in a combination that could not be budged. The construction of Inca walls is one of the many fascinations you can discover visiting Cusco.  Inca stone masons would work the stones until their shape fit exactly alongside all of the other blocks that would be positioned alongside that block. More on these walls in the next couple posts where we visit archaeological sites!!!!

We continued walking to our next destination, the San Pedro Market.

We got there a little late so most stands were already closed. But we still got to buy a couple crafts like Alpaca wool blankets (that we later discovered are really not made out of Alpaca)

Sarah was obsessed with Peruvian children.

We made a quick stop at the supermarket where I was a giant! We stacked up of snacks for our tour tomorrow, we separated from Hanna and Thomas for a couple hours before dinner.

We were visiting during the Corpus Christi festival.  Among many religious festivals in Cusco, this one is also a mixture of Catholic and Inca traditions. It is celebrated 60 days after Easter. From the Catholic side, it is a time when it is believed that 15 saints and virgins come to “greet” Christ’s body, and for the ones who still celebrate Inca tradition, it is the time of harvest and the time when 12 different local dishes are prepared and eaten.

It was very interesting and we got in the middle of the crowds to experience it closer. The whole town was participating in carrying the saints back to the church.

We met again with our awesome travel couple to get some foot massages before dinner. The massage was not really that good. It was more like foot torture, but for a couple bucks each, we can’t really complain.

Hannah, Sarah, and Eitan sat down for dinner while Thomas went on an adventure to find a Shaman Massage. He was able to book it for the next day!

It was time to sleep, tomorrow we will be visiting  the Incan Sacred Valley for the first time!




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