Saying goodbye to Lima was difficult. I have really come to love it there, to the point that it feels like my home away from home. I think that this was one source of my feeling so sad during my first week in Cusco. It is now sunny and warm in Lima while here in Cusco it rains everyday for variable amounts of time and it is COLD... I know I shouldn't be complaining since all of you at home are up to your red, runny noses in snow, but I was so ready for summer break! And now its difficult to spend too much time outside.
But Cusco is a beautiful place! In the central plaza there are 2 colonial style cathedrals which sit on cobblestone roads that spider around the districts of San Blas and Central- the main tourist districts and the most beautiful that the city has to offer. There are Incan walls that still stand at the base of several of the white walls that make up the structure of most of the city buildings. The Incan walls can be distinguished from the ones that are newer because the rocks have been formed into blocks and sit one on top of the other without any kind of cement holding them together. The Incas were famous for having carved their rocks and placed them to fit together perfectly, as well as for having developed an anti-seismic strategy in which the edges of the blocks are not exactly square with one another but slanted slightly.
Notice how the sides of the windows are also turned slightly inward...this is a classic Inca structure that has been the reason that the Inca structures have outlasted both colonial and modern structures through the years which have seen several devastating earthquakes.
I took advantage of this moment in the central plaza to snap a picture of what it looks like on a sunny day. This is a spot where lots of backpackers gather to sit around on benches, on the ground, on the steps of the fountain to chat, meet, play music, kill time before departing to other parts, and in the case of the young Argentinians (of which there are many) sit and drink mate.
But usually it looks like this.
Here are a couple of views of the street and hills from the top of the stairs that lead to my hostal. These stairs are killer at this altitude! I get a few workouts each day hiking up them.
And there are spiders in Cusco... something I had not experienced much of in Lima. This one was HUGE and was crawling along the wall in my room. I had to swipe a broom and sweep the sucker out the door... a feat which took a great deal of mental preparation on my part including several deep breaths and positive self talk... "you can do this... it's probably not poisonous... it's more afraid of you than you are of it."
Here are a couple of girls from a province of Cusco. They come into the city everyday to hold their goat and offer to pose for photos in exchange for a fairly large sum of money. They are only one group of many people who do this. I usually walk by them as they call out, "una foto senorita? One picture?" but today I stopped and took their photo because I wanted to chat with them. I sat down beside them to pet their goat (whose name is Josafina) and talk to them about what they do. They told me that mostly tourists like to take their picture. They say they use the money for their schooling - to buy notebooks and pens. This made me wonder if they were telling me the truth as the number one complaint from most tourists when they see these children working this way in the city is that they are not in school.
I also spend a good amount of time here at this central market. Here you can buy fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, bread... and if you are brave, meat, fish and cheese which sit out all day in the muggy marketplace. I often sit on one of those stools sipping a freshly squeezed juice of any type of fruit while writing observation fieldnotes or interviewing foreigners. Ok I'll be honest I have only interviewed one foreigner and two locals but I am making progress!
So thats life in Cusco! Pacing around markets, wandering the streets when they are dry and exploring the different dynamics of the ancient city of Cusco.