Food and Ruins

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Although we loved every minute of our jungle adventure, the oppressive mugginess and the constant battle against a gajillion bugs proved to be a little exhausting for our fragile city-slicker nerves, and we both breathed a sigh of relief when our plane touched down in Cusco for some much needed R&R.

Cusco from the rooftops

As tends to happen on the gringo trail, a group of fellow travellers we had befriended during our Colca trek were also in Cusco at the same time: our Canadian friend Lars Eric Erickson, German and Mexican Jaime and Katja, and Patrick and Anna Katrin from Hamburg. Incidentally, most of them were also staying at our hostel, including our converse-clad buddy Johannes. That night, after very long showers and an afternoon nap, we met our friends for dinner in town.

Three Stooges reunited

Cusco is, in fact, in addition to being the capital of the old Inca Empire and surrounded by great, sprawling ruins, the gringo capital of South America. This means that there are an endless number of businesses catering to the Western traveller. As soon as you leave your hostel, for example, you will be pounced on by at least three girls offering you a massage to soothe your sore muscles, five guys offering you happy hour at their British pub, and four Quechua women with bowler hats offering you to take a picture with their llamas on a leash.

This can be good or bad, depending on what you are looking for. One thing that we definitely enjoyed, however, was the food. (If you know me for more than 15 minutes you will not be surprised.) By the time we had reached Cusco, all we had been eating was an infinite variation of chicken and rice. So we were very glad to eat a little bit of something different. Some highlights: real Indian food at Maikhana  run by an Indian lady whose husband is an architect working on a local 5* hotel; a great sandwich joint, Juanito’s, where you can make your own amazing sandwich (my fave: burger with pineapple and cheese) and the manager learned my name within one visit; a fantastic vegetarian place called El Encuentro where we could get a filling three-course lunch for the equivalent of €1.50 and that we visited three times.

Other than gorging ourselves on food, and despite Machu Picchu’s continued closure, we still managed to do our share of ruin-viewing. If sacred rocks are your thing, Cusco is the place to be.

Digesting.

In all seriousness, the Inca architecture on display within the city as well as a short bus ride away was awe-inspiring.

These are big rocks...

Huge rocks, weighing up to 300 tons, cut and fit into walls like they were perfect pieces of a puzzle – the grandiose Spanish colonial architecture usually built on top of original Inca structures paled in comparison.

Cutler marvels at Inca engineering prowess

Some sites we visited and enjoyed, if not necessarily understood: Saksayhuaman (or “Sexy Woman”, as tour guides like to suggest for tourists to remember its name), built in the shape of a Puma’s head and a breathless, uphill 30-minute walk from the central Plaza de Armas;

Eye of the tiger, teeth of a puma

Pisac where thousands of Inca nobility were buried on the side of a mountain;

Like true Inca warriors...

and Ollantaytambo, a temple with some very steep stone terracing which was witness to possibly the only battle between the Incas and the Spaniards where the latter were forced to retreat;

Sun-god making an appearance

a small but beautiful early 17thcentury church in the village of Chinchero built by the Spanish on its surrounding Inca walls.

Sundown in Chinchero

This short tour of the Sacred Valley ruins only whet our appetite and made us want to see Machu Picchu all the more. Just another excuse to return when we’ve saved up again after this trip…

P.S. We also saw lots of alpacas!

100% Alpaca, test it with a lighter

P.P.S. We figured it was the altitude, but the light and the CLOUDS in Cusco were amazing.

Cusco clouds

P.P.P.S. We even saw a proper, full rainbow, from end to end. Did not check for pots of gold.

High-altitude rainbow

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4 Responses to “Food and Ruins”

  1. cynthia cutler Says:

    Wow you continue to amaze me with your wonderful descriptions of the sites you are experiencing. On a motherly note its good to see how well you both look.

    Take care and missing you like crazy.
    Mum xxxxx

  2. lyn Says:

    It does not get much better!! you annoying pair of jammy good times!
    Im still at Crewise! Still in flat! Still raining! Still single! Sales have been great! week-ends I mainly chill with friends!
    Can we swap!! pleeeassssseee!!!! xxxxxx miss ya 🙂

  3. lyn Says:

    AGU !!!! XXX

  4. Jaime Says:

    Hey Guys,

    I send to you a lot of good vibe, and hopefully see you in Berlin.

    P.D. I love your Blog. well explained and nice Pics!.

    j.

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