23rd to 26th January Cusco
23 Jan 2008
After the trip to Machu Picchu we started a little later this morning and spent an hour or so on the internet before we went into town to look at the markets.
The place was absolutely packed as it was a strike day to protest about the governments moves to sell off Machu Picchu and other archaelogical sites to overeseas private enterprises. There were thousands of protestors, very noisy and with burning tyres very smelly and smokey. Quite colourful as many were in national costume but that's the tourist speaking. Unfortunately all the shops were closed in case of riots with lots of police all over theplace with riot shields. It was a bit threatening but apart from shouting and firecrackers it passed off very peacefully and everything was back to normal by the afternoon.
We went on a City tour in the afternoon and saw the cathedral, Qoricancha, a monastery that was an old Inca temple originally and several archaelogical sites which involved quite a bit of climbing around. One of the sites was Sacsayhuaman pronounced "sac say woman" not to be confused with Christine!
Today we went on a day trip to the sacred valley of the incas climbing to over 4,000 metres and then descending to around 2,600 metres. I would not want to have been driving as some of the corners were a bit tight, the road surfaces appalling and overtaking manouvres risky.
We visited the town of Pisac where they had an artisans market and also more Inca sites. After lunch we visited Ollantaytambo where visiting the site involved climbing over 200 steep steps which at high altitude is very tiring but we made it which is more than several other members of the tour managed. We felt quite young compared to the others.
The weather during the day was even more changeable than England with the need for sun screen lotion one minute only to need the wet weather jackets the next as the showers became heavy.
We went to one place where the local community send their men folk off to the farms to work while the women folk dye and spin the Alpaca and other wool and make the various knitwear and shawls and table mats and carpets etc. We felt by buying there we were supporting the locals directly and bought a throw for the settee. I just hope we were right. Christine didn't think my bartering skills matched up to another in the group but I was satisfied with what we paid. I'm just not sure how it will fit in the case and we are only two weeks into the trip.
We had this last day to finish seeing the sights of Cusco and talked with Peggy, the owner of the hotel, about things to do.
Having been dropped in the upper part of Cusco we were able to take a walk down through the Artisan area and found some lovely places where locals displayed their art. We were particularly impressed with Aztec design pottery and place mats.
In need of a rest and refreshment we found the Monasterio Hotel Peggy had recommended for coffee. As you will guess from the name it is a converted monastery, probably the most expensive hotel in Cusco with the sound of monks chanting in the courtyard as we enjoyed coffee on a silver tray service and best china. A peaceful respite from the busyness outside.
The Inca museum was also on the list and was an impressive history of Inca and pre Inca times in Peru.
After an enjoyable lunch and walk round a couple more museums we realised how tired we were and called the hotel to come and pick us up.
In the evening we went to a local native dance show at the theatre and enjoyed the various dances and costumes and music.