Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cusco – Peru – May 6 – May 10, 2012

En-route to Cusco via the Inca Express we had numerous stops along the way.  These included stopovers at archeological places such as Pukara, La Raya, Sicuani for a delicious traditional buffet lunch, and Racchi and Andahuaylillas.  This tour was very worthwhile and made even better by our guide a young Peruvian man who aspires to be President some day...and given his knowledge and personality it might just happen.

We arrived in Cusco, the 7th largest city in Peru.  This city was the capital of the Inca Empire, the most extensive and powerful state ever to exist on the continent of South America.  The original name of the city was “Qosqo”, which the Spaniards changed to Cusco because they were unable to pronounce correctly the language of the Incas.  The original name means “navel of the world”, which is the significance the Incas wanted to have associated with their city as they extended their territories. 

The Incas gave their city the shape of a Puma, which was an Inca deity.  The head was formed by the hill of Sacsayhuaman (Sexy Woman), the torso by the rivers Tullumayu and Saphy and the tail by the confluence of those two same rivers, where the Huatanay River is formed.

We found the city of Cusco, a world heritage site by UNESCO, to be full of culture, vibrant colorful and friendly peoples.  Our tour included visiting the Plaza Mayor, Cusco’s Cathedral, and the Koricancha temple, of colonial architecture constructed over an Inca temple.  We continued on a short drive outside of the city to admire the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, with its gigantic rock walls, some slabs cut with tremendous precision standing more than 20 ft tall.  We also visited Quenko, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay. 

The Highlights of Cusco

We enjoyed an evening at the theater where a variety of folklore dances were presented.  Gary & John found the offering of local musical instruments to hard to pass up and Gary purchased a replica pre-Columbian flute in the shape of a Puma (guess which end you blow in).  As well, a Charanga which is a handmade 10 string instrument favored by local Peruvian musicians.  John purchased a very unique, locally made (the only we ever saw in all of Peru) beautiful 12 string guitar.

We depart Friday for the sacred valley including Ollantaytambo, the piece da resistance Machu Picchu and then a 4 day trek in the Amazon Jungle before heading back to Lima and finally back to Panama and KaijaSong on May 22.


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