Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cusco, Peru

After picking Dad up at the airport, the next morning, we boarded a flight to Cusco. Cusco is in the middle of the Andes moutains, so therefore, is at quite an elevation, 11,000 feet, so we were a little concerned about how our bodies would handle it. It was also the center of the Incan empire when the Spanish conquistadores conquered Peru. The whole city demonstrates the power of that empire and everything that the Spanish did to change its people. The dynamic of the city was quite amazing.

We went out to lunch at a restaurant with a balcony overlooking the main square. Here, Dad and I are enjoying our first meal in Cusco. Jesse decided to go adventurous on this first meal- he ordered an alpaca dish. It was absolutely delicious! We all tried a little bit.
Here is a little bit better picture of the main cathedral of Cusco. This was an original Incan temple that the Spanish turned into a Catholic church. We toured this church the next day. A few interesting things about the chuch: there is a rendition of the last supper where instead of a fish on the table, there a guinea pig; there is an altar with a black Jesus on the cross, it was stated that during an earthquake, some people grabbed the cruxifix and once they started taking it outside, the earthquake stopped, so then people started burning candles underneath it and it turned black, like the Andean people.
After lunch, we huffed and puffed our way to Koricancha, which was the Incan temple of the sun. The Spanish took over every Incan temple and turned them into Catholic churches, but this church still has original Incan walls and follows the original design.
Here's an up close shot of the walls. There is no mortar, no caulk, there is nothing between the stones. Its amazing how they were built; they are earthquake proof as well. Many of the Spanish built churches have suffered structural damage due to earthquakes, but the Incan built walls still stand.
The next day we took a tour up to Sasquaywaman, which was though to be a fortress of some kind, but now, archaeologists think it was another temple. We saw a woman in traditional Andean dress with a llama. I had to cry out- llllllaaaaaammmmmmaaaa! And then take the pictture. I really like llamas.
The cool thing about Sacsaywaman (besides the name which sounds like sexy woman) is how its built and its location. Its built like the picture above, but with huge rocks!
Here is Dad and me, standing underneath the largest Incan doorway still standing.
To show the size of some of the rocks, here is Jesse to help with dimensions. The rock is huge! Our guide told us that some of the rocks were moved to their current spot, but others were already there, and the Incans left the large rocks where they were as a sort of worship towards mother earth.
Here is the location I was referring to earlier. Sacsaywaman overlooks Cusco.
We also visited two other major Incan sites around Cusco that same day. One of them showed us how the Incans used aquaducts to supply water to their cities. It seems pretty awesome that those aquaducts are still working today, after 600 years. On our last day before we started the Inca Trail, we went on a rafting trip. Dad really wanted to go because he'd never done it before, and me personally, I love rafting! Our friends Amy and Sara met up with us in Cusco and they joined us for the trip.

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