Cusco and the Puma

Coordinates: 13°31′30″ S 71°58′20″O

After our trip through the southern route, we were exhausted. We arrived at Hotel Casa Andina Catedral where we were welcomed with more Coca Tea. We had already been in Puno, where the altitude is higher than in Cusco. In fact, we had been in La Raya, which is even higher than Puno. Perhaps we didn’t need the Coca Tea and Sorojchi Pills® to avoid mountain sickness anymore. Wrong!

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	mso-ansi-language:ES-PR;}    The streets are steep and narrow. Photo by: Javier Vélez Arocho

The streets are steep and narrow. Photo by: Javier Vélez Arocho

Mountain Sickness

We searched for a nearby place to dine; we wanted to go to bed early and discover the city in the morning. I was already feeling a little dizzy and thought it was due to tiredness and the long journey, so I decided to stay in the room and ordered a fruit salad for dinner. Although I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t want to go to sleep on an empty stomach. I spent the entire night in the bathroom with digestive disorders, tremors and chills. I’m not sure whether it was the altitude or the fruit, but truth be told, I was very dehydrated the next day. My husband went to the botica, as they call pharmacies, and bought me a concoction similar to Pedialyte; which is an electrolyte solution. I stayed in that day with hopes of recuperating before the long awaited trip to Machu Picchu. So in addition to electrolytes, I started taking the Coca Tea and mountain sickness pills again. 

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	mso-ansi-language:ES-PR;}    All of the edifications are of one or two stories. Photo by: Javier Vélez Arocho

All of the edifications are of one or two stories. Photo by: Javier Vélez Arocho

The Puma

The next day, once hydrated and relieved, I joined the Cusco tourism. It was impossible to miss the chance of touring a town of extreme gallantry and feline strength. This city, declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO, is shaped like a puma. Furthermore, Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and one of the most important cities of the Viceroyalty of Peru

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	mso-ansi-language:ES-PR;}    Part of the exhibition at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. Photo by: Javier Vélez Arocho.

Part of the exhibition at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. Photo by: Javier Vélez Arocho.

The Rome of the Americas

Cusco has such a historical richness and variety of monuments that it is known as the Rome of the Americas. With six museums and eleven churches they can easily fill the quota of an extensive historical collection. The most important religious monument of the city is the Cathedral of Cusco; which they have preserved in very good condition. This impressive temple is divided into three naves built in stone. We continued our historical journey to reach the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. The exhibition, of great elegance and good taste, presented art pieces made out of clay. The amount of gold used in many of the works was amazing; I don’t even want to imagine how much was taken during the colonial era.

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	mso-ansi-language:ES-PR;}    The wooden balconies are carved to detail. Photo: Javier Vélez Arocho

The wooden balconies are carved to detail. Photo: Javier Vélez Arocho

Through the City

Most of the old houses are on two levels with wooden balconies carved to detail; we only saw an occasional three-story building. Gabled roofs in terracotta contrast with the green of the mountains surrounding the city. The streets are steep and narrow, and also very clean.

We were struck by the regulations of the banks. To switch to the local currency, the Nuevo Sol, the dollar had to be immaculate. They do not accept dollars with the most minimal mark or fold, much less damaged; only those in perfect condition.

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	mso-ansi-language:ES-PR;}    Families also posed for our lens in Cusco. Photo by: Javier Velez Arocho

Families also posed for our lens in Cusco. Photo by: Javier Velez Arocho

Beautiful People

The scene of the Raqchi Town was repeated in Cusco. On the streets, we were stopped by families asking to be photographed in exchange for a few Soles. However, unlike in Raqchi, we didn’t see many people wearing traditional costumes, most of this urban center’s population carries contemporary clothing.

The city tour ended with a dinner at the restaurant Incanto; where bread and pizza are made in a clay oven. We kept eating light to avoid mountain sickness, so the Peruvian pisco was not served at our table that night.

The attack of, which I understood, was altitude sickness could not overshadow the interesting cultural tour of the city of Cusco. That night I was able to rest and get ready for our excursion to Machu Picchu the next day; the reason for this entire trip.

(This article is the sixth in a series of stories of Perú.)


Conscious Travel Practices:

1. Learn about the art, history and culture of the country.

2. Support the economy by sponsoring the local lodgings and restaurants.

3. Enjoy the historic places without leaving trash behind.


Places of interest:

Churches:

The Catedral

San Blas

San Cristóbal

San Francisco

San Pedro

Santa Catalina

Santa Clara

Santa Teresa

Santo Domingo

Compañía de Jesús

La Merced


Museums:

Museo de Arte Precolombino

Museo de Arte Religioso del Arzobispado

Museo de Arte y Monasterio de Santa Catalina

Museo Arqueológico de Koricacha

Museo Histórico Regional (Casa Garcilazo)


Dinning:

Incanto