Cusco, the storied capital of the incan empire and gateway to the imperial city of machu Picchu, has been one of the undisputed highlights of south america and even my trip. Stone streets and building foundations laid by Incas more than 5 centuries ago. Cusco is one of those rare places that seems to preserve its unique character and enduring appeal despite its prominent over abundance of tourists and tour companies. The Spanish conquistadors understood that it was essential to topple the capital city to take control of the region, a feat they ultimately accomplished after an epic battle at sacsayhuaman. The Spanish razed most incan buildings but in many cases, they found the structures so well engineered that they built upon the very foundations of incan Cusco.
Apparently, the Incas designed their city in the shape of a puma, (although I cannot see this for the life of me), with the north side being the head. I've tried looking at a map but I guess with huge amount of growth it more closely resembles a city rather than a puma. The center of the city is plaza de armas. Jam packed with travel agencies, shops, restaurants, bars and hotels. I was often offered some obscure art by a local who would then offer some cocaine, marijuana or other illegal substance. After saying no to everything, I would often get the reaction, 'well what DO you want?!'
I have spent a huge chunk of my trip in Cusco and that's no coincidence. Its a developed city where anything you might want is readily available as well as not being a dirty, dangerous city which some people may consider Lima to be. (My next destination funnily enough). Throughout my trip in Cusco, I've been staying at dragonfly hostels. Just 4 months old and managed by a ridiculously nice and quirky Frenchman. You can often find me at the bar spitting out broken French while he fixes up pisco sours on their 2 for 1 nights.
The markets in Cusco are great, regardless of what you're after. I bought a dozen eggs for a dollar and then turned the corner and picked up a llama fetus to aid me in my future endeavors. I'm just kidding but the fact is, I could have if I wanted to. Almost everyday I would head down to the markets with a friend for a freshly squeezed fruit juice. We made friends with a woman who despite having a seemingly endless supply of customers, never had any change for us. It was all quite a laugh. Change is half the battle. The other half is figuring out what the Spanish word is for basil, coriander or soy sauce.
I will try to keep on top of my blog from now on. Finding wi fi in the valley on my day trips can prove difficult. Next stop, grande mala sucio Lima.