We walked the city, as we usually do, but this time, we thought we would keel over. The altitude in Cusco was a killer, and even a few stairs left us breathless. Thankfully, we planned a long stay here, so with nearly two weeks to use, we didn’t feel rushed.
Our first few days, we took it VERY slow. Day 1, we managed to arrive and collapse into bed at the hotel. Day 2, was an improvement, we dressed and got out to a nearby restaurant to meet up with another traveling family. We had lunch and a great chat while the kids played in the plaza. Afterwards, it was back to bed to rest. By day 3, we were ready to see things, and took a quick side trip to Machu Picchu, returning to Cusco the next day.
Then, we were finally ready to explore! From our apartment, it was a short walk to the main plaza, Plaza De Armas. The square is home to not one, but TWO large churches, built atop Incan buildings. Inside, each church tried to impress with more gold than the other. Nothing like the European churches we have seen, with stained glass and lots of light, these Spanish Colonial buildings are gilded, top to bottom with Incan gold collected by the conquistadores and melted down.
The Plaza de Armas
La Compania Church in the main plaza
Later, after our feet hurt from touring churches, we visited the Choco Museo, a museum of chocolate. The exhibits were fun, and the tasting exciting, but Boy begged for a chocolate class, so we signed up for a three hour cooking and history class, which took us through the different historical recipes for chocolate from the ancient Mayans through the conquistadores, to modern candy. None of us were hungry for dinner after that day!
The Choco Museo
A cocoa tree
After that class, schoolwork seemed less exciting, but we continued with our Incan and conquistador studies, supplemented by field trips to the Spanish church, built atop the Incan palace at Quoriconcha, the Museo Inka, the Museo de Arte Precolumbio, the Incan ruins of Moray Moras, and Sacsaywayman. Boy even did a compare and contrast exercise of the conquistadores Pizarro and Cortes.
Quoriconcha, notice the church built directly on top of the older Inca wall, in gray
A good example of an Incan wall
Our hard copy books on the Inca were supplemented by a lot of ebooks this week:
We worked in some fun as well. A day trip out to Piscac gave us the chance to see more Incan ruins, before we met back up with the traveling family from Cusco for lunch and a swim. The kids had a great time.
Our final day in Cusco happened to be Dads birthday, a big number, and he wanted a challenge, so after fortifying ourselves with American style burgers and milkshakes at a local restaurant, he was ready to do some mountain climbing. It felt like mountain climbing, anyhow, as we walked the steps through the neighborhoods, up to the top of the hill above the city, where the statue of Cristo Blanco overlooks the city. We rested on a bench at his feet for a long time, before taking a taxi back to the apartment.
The city of Cusco from Cristo Blanco
From here, we leave Peru and head to Ecuador.