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Cusco, Peru

20th-22nd Nov

Sat found us arriving in Cusco dizzy, short of breath and both with headaches. Cusco is 3300 meters above sea level, something that we weren’t prepared for. We had the understanding that Machupicchu was the high place, when actually its a lot lower than the city of Cusco.

We stayed in a hostel very close to the main plaza. It was smelly and had no natural light. We had a little look around the centre of Cusco and grabbed a small bite to eat, having been warned that too much food is not a good idea while getting used to the altitude. We had soup and Coca tea, made from the coca leaf which helps eleveate symptoms of altitude sickness. Yes, its also the same plant that is used to make cocaine. We sat in the restaurant and looked out over the Plaza de Armas, a beautiful square with a big cathedral, water fountain and surrounded by hills with houses and statues. Because Cusco is located in the mountains it’s a very hilly city, you're not able to walk anywhere without encountering some type of up or down, which leaves you more out of breath than normal gasping for oxygen.

Sunday morning we woke early for a bus trip to see the Sacred Valley. I was feeling very sick and couldn’t eat anything for fear of throwing up, and my headache still hadn’t gone away. We hoped on the bus and I hoped that I would be ok.

We started at Pisac, a small Inca sight on a mountain range that had large terraces flowing from it. There were remains of buildings that were once used as storeage sights, small rock huts where all the harvested crops would be stored until transported to Cusco, and also hundreds of tombs which were the Incan famer's used as grave sights. Most of the bodies were robbed, those that were spared are now preserved in museums.

The next stop was a market place where locals were selling alpaca and lama clothing, jewellery, leather goods and woven bags. All pretty much the same, all trying to bargin with you to buy from them, calling out, ‘please! Over here! Beautiful clothes!’ You could also buy a photo of locals in traditional dress with llamas (see evidence to the left).

After looking around, it was on the bus to stop at another town (the name has escaped us) were there was an even bigger market than the last. Pete got fed up with all the looking and waited by the bus, I too had a wee look and went back before the end. It becomes very much the same thing over and over.

We stopped for lunch at a buffet place in a small town, where we had rice, beans and chicken again, then it was off to Ollantaytambo, an Inca town that has survived over 700 years and has a remarkable steep terrace that guards the complex. It was a small feat to get to the top, but the view of the town and mountains were beautiful. There was a temple on the top also(Temple of the Sun), with huge blocks of stone that are still there. These things were huge and would’ve been a mission to transport with ropes and logs underneath.

Our final stop was the town of Chinchero, 3760 meters high up on a mountain. The headache and dizziness returned with its high altitude but it was a lovely spot. We were treated to a demonstration about how the locals pull, clean, dye and weave the lama wool. It was a local girl in traditional dress with a great sense of humour who gave the talk and it was really interesting to see the processes.

It was a big day with a lot of driving, but interesting landscapes and villages to look at. What I loved about the trip was getting to see the little villages and seeing how hard working but very happy the locals were. They work the land and barter a lot and all the wares for sale to the tourists were hand-made. The countryside was filled with great majestic mountains and crops, beautiful really.

Monday found us chilling out and getting ourselves ready for the four day Inca trail treck we were about to embark on. We found a new place to stay for when we got back that didn’t smell, organised to leave some stuff there and had pizza and played blackjack at a restaurant before heading to bed for the early start that was required the next day.
Next entry- Machupicchu!!! I'm almost up to date, I think I need to hire someone that we can dictate to and get them to do all the frustrating and tedious computer stuff! xxx

permalink written by  Pete+Rochelle on November 29, 2010 from Cusco, Peru
from the travel blog: Round the world!!!
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