Our prearranged taxi driver was waiting for us at the airport. Raindrops began to fall as we made our way to the taxi in the airport parking lot.
As we started driving through the city the skies let loose. Cusco is built on the side of a mountain and the water was rushing down the roads like a river. It was crazy. Then it started to hail heavily. The sidewalks were covered in hailstones.
By the time we arrived at our accomodations, Hostal Comarca, in the San Blas area, it had turned back to rain.
The streets in San Blas are so narrow that pedestrians have to walk close to the buildings to let cars go by. There is a intersection of these streets that is so tight that the cars have to go a bit into the square and do a very tight three point turn to turn right into another narrow street. This is quite a spectacle to watch when there is a lineup of cars doing this.
In our short jaunt from the taxi to our hostel, our backpacks and hiking boots were soaked. Even our supposedly waterproof day back packs got damp inside from the deluge.
We waited for an hour in our room till the rain had stopped, then we went to check out the area. We walked around the San Blas Plaza where many street vendors had already reset up their booths.
We went to eat at a highly recommended Peruvian food restaurant. I cannot say how much I enjoy the food in Peru. After a satisfying meal, we went back to our room.
Most places in Peru have no heating- none of our accommodations have had heating despite temperatures as low as 4 Celcius at night. Our room was chilly but when you were in bed under the covers it is very warm. They have a heavy wool blanket between the sheets and duvet that really keeps it toasty.
We had breakfast at our hostel...you guessed it, scrambled eggs, but there were a lot of other options available.
It was still cool but the sun was out at 9am when we left to meet up for our free (pay what you want) walking tour with Inkan Milky Way.
On our way to the meeting point we passed a parade in the main square- Plaza des Armas. Every Sunday they have a flag raising ceremony with the Peruvian and Cusco flags accompanied by a military band and parade. Everyone in the parade was doing the goose step, even the little kids in the parade The women in high heels looked especially challenged with the goose step. The Cusco flag is the same as the gay pride rainbow flag, both were created the same year but with no knowledge of its counterpart.
Our walking tour lasted 2 1/2 hours and was a great introduction to the main historical and areas of interest the city. There was a large group in our English speaking tour, between 40-50. The groups aren't normally that large but our tour guide said that it is hard to get people to work on Sunday.
Some people were suffering from altitude sickness. I am happy to say that the prescribed altitude pills have really helped us...no headaches but we were a bit breathless with all the stairs you need to go up and down to get anywhere in this city.There are some really cute ads around town for altitude sickness medication.
By 11am the sun had heated things up so much that I had stripped all my layers down to a t-shirt. We had gone from a mere 4 degrees Celsius to mid 20s in a few short hours.
The tour highlighted many large churches that were built on the sites of Inca temples. Many buildings used the immaculately cut Inca stone foundations and built onto of them. We also went to the San Pedro Market which was designed by Gustav Eiffel (the same one that designed the tower in Paris).
We saw llama embryos in the market which are used for goodluck and buried under a new house or in some places hung outside the front door.
After the tour, we went for lunch at another Peruvian place. It was good but not exquisite like the place we ate at the night before. And the portions were huge. John and I could only eat half of our meals.
After lunch we hailed a cab and went to the Inca Archeological site of Saqsaywaman (pronounced sexy woman). It was quite large with a great view of the city below. There were also a number of llamas chewing grass on the site. I found that I was breathless doing the stairs and it was downright hot.
This site was right next to the Cristo Blanco (White Jesus) which is a large white statue similar to the one in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately to get there you had to go down a number of stairs then up a pile more and John and I felt we just couldnt do it.
We did however hail a cab and tour three more Inca sites: Qenko, Puca Pucara and Tambopachy. I must admit that they are all starting to look a little similar to me.
The cab dropped us back down in our neighbourhood and after a short rest we went out to the Plaza des Armas to get some night photos, We stopped into the main cathedral to listen to a bit of the mass and on our way home we grabbed a few light snacks for supper (because we were still so full from lunch).
TIPS & COSTS
Comarca Hostel - $34 per night
Taxi to Sacsaywaman - $8 Cad
Taxi from Sacsaywaman to the other three sites and back- $24ĺl