Cusco and the best-spent Sol

Added on by Bill.

All the advice says take it easy on your first day in Cusco. At about 3600 meters physical activity can be taxing. As we had come from Arequipa and Colca Canyon we expected the transition to be negligable.  Wrong.

Linda and I arrived about 9:00AM; Olga and Yesid arrived about an hour later. We finished a light lunch at 1:00. Our city tour started around 1:15. This was a public tour which included about 15 people in total.  It started at Plaza des Armes with tours of the Cathedral, a Church and some remaining Inca structures. Inca remains in Cusco are generally limited to the foundations of buildings.  Apparently when the Spanish arrived in this form Inca capital they levelled most of the buildings and built their own structures on top of the foundations.  Yet what does remain is what our guide told us was the smallest rock found in an Inca wall. Following the city portion of the tour we visited some other Inca remains at Saqsayhuaman located on the edge of Cusco.  These were quite impressive; the engineering and specifically the stone work is incredible.  Visiting this site was a lot more interesting to me than visiting local churches and cathedrals. Those latter monuments are imports from some conquering agent; I'd prefer to see those that are indigenous. If churches and cathedrals are what you want to see, go to the source: Europe.  They're better there. If you visit the churches in Madrid you can also see much of the gold the Spanish imported from South America.  

The tour was pretty fast-paced, on a tight schedule and involved a fair amount of walking and worst of all climbing. It was all too much so after the Saqsayhuaman site we left the tour.

We found ourselves outside of Cusco city. There were no taxis available, only the local bus service.  The bus or more accurately a van, would normally be considered a 10-12 seater. It looked to me they packed in a few extra.  The fare was 1 Sol (30 cents) to ride into town (about 15 km). The bus was true to most of the images of South American buses (excluding wild animals). It was battered and rickety. On board there was a driver and a "conductor" who collected fares and solicited business.  There are no bus stops; people just stand along the route and wave and the bus stops.  The conductor hangs out the side door asking passers-by if they want a ride.  People get on, and off. People talk and laugh; everyone seems to know each other. They took no notice of us.   At the maximum I counted 28 people including the driver on board. It was pretty snug.

This turned out to be the best part of the tour and may be the best-spent 1 sol.

Chef preparing our pizza lunch in an outdoor oven

Street in Cusco

A view of the city of Cusco from Saqsayhuaman

Inca wall at the Saqsayhuaman site

Atop Saqsayhuanman one can see the immaculate cross of Jesus clashing with the ruins of the Inca empire

The Temple of Coricancha in Cusco built on top of the foundations of earlier Inca Structures