SSHH….says a lot.
One will understand completely when one has to go.
Qosqo (in Quechua, a vanishing ancient language) to the Incans is what Cuzco (in phonics, haha) is to the Spanish. Cuzco city is synonymous with altitude sickness. Over 3000 meters above sea level, almost anyone who was not acclimatized would feel, at minimum, a bit of discomfort. Particularly those who fly in from areas at sea level…which is everywhere. So we prepared ahead and took Diamox to get it out of the way. But even then, I had tingly fingers and toes when the meds started to wear out as the next dose was due. I didn’t find the coca tea they said could alleviate symptoms to be particularly helpful, but drinking liquids to keep hydrated certainly was.
Cuzco is also the gateway to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and 3000 species of potatoes as well as the largest corn kernels I have ever seen! But I never expected it to be little Prague, albeit with clear Spanish influence in its architecture. So pretty. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site too, one of many in Cuzco.
The Spaniards took full advantage of the sturdy stone walls that the Incans built, and restoration works helped us see clearly how the buildings were forced to blend into one another. But I have to say that the masonry skills required of the Incans to carve out precise pieces of stones that fit together perfectly without modern tools are astounding. With locking systems too. Neat. That said, this was the 15th/16th century we are referring to. Many centuries before this, the Egyptians have already proven themselves fine craftsmen and architects. I didn’t think there is great improvement there.
But the food has certainly evolved from Egyptian times. They eat Alpacas and Guinea pigs. Of course, there is no way I’d have a guinea pig for lunch or dinner, but I did try Alpaca. Tasted like chicken…like every other strange pieces of meat. And their trout ceviche! Yummmmmss!!!
Clockwise, from top left:
Chicha Morada, a drink of purple corn. Similar to Ribena but fresher and more flavorful.
Pisco Sour, a local alcoholic drink made from white grapes, egg white and dash of cinnamon
Corn and flava beans, an appetizer
Ceviche, a Peruvian concoction and speciality. Not French as I had thought.
Alpaca steak, with salad, rice, potatoes. Carbo overload.
Trout steak, as above.
Local soup of the day, made with veggies, potatoes and innards. Delish!
Cheese, locally made from cow’s milk to be had together with the appetizer of corn
I am sitting in an airport lounge in Josef Chavez International in Lima, Peru waiting for our flight to Miami. We had just flown in from Cuzco in what I believe to be a concord because the plane went so fast – we arrived here in two-thirds of the time it would have if it had flown normally, my fingers and toes still tingling from the altitude changes. The WiFi at the lounge is fantastic, and free. After 4 days of expensive (therefore used very little) WiFi, I latched onto this like a hungry wolf on an alpaca.
But I could have done without the internet for longer, and a non-tether would not have mattered because a world wonder beckoned.
Glorious Machu Picchu.
Thank you for traveling with PeruRail. We wish you a magical and memorable time.
That was the parting message from staff of the Vistadome train when we finally arrived at the station a bit over 3 hours later. I could hardly sit still. I was as excited as when I was about to see the Pyramids of Giza. But this one made me work for it playing peekaboo in an obscure place in the mountains.
The final ascent up the steep mountain to the entrance took another 30mins by bus. At this point, I felt like I could run to the entrance faster than Usain Bolt.
We did all the necessary paperwork and finally, we were in. (You actually needed your passport to enter and you can get a Machu Picchu stamp afterwards. Do it after because there’d be a momentary swell of pride and happiness to see your accomplishment validated.)
I got a glimpse of it as I rounded the corner, but our guide told us not to get excited yet and to climb higher to see the whole thing instead. When we got to the top, he said with a big smile, “Welcome to Machu Picchu.”
And what a welcome it was.
I was gasping at the top. For air or out of awe? I think both. We sat along one of the ledges to listen to our wonderful guide tell us the stories of the how it came to be, how the Incans planned and strategized, their religion, how they lived, how they died, how to tell importance of a person by looking at architecture of the building he/she lived in. Incans also had ‘commandments’ they lived by : To Love, To Learn and To Work. The last two reminded me of my government. Ha!
My heart sang the whole time – chatting about Incans while munching on biscuits (not actually allowed, but do not leave anything behind and you should be fine) and sipping water. The pleasures of life. 🙂
And we met with a friend too – Biscacha, a local Chinchilla.
6 is a number I plucked out of thin air. Which also happened to be the optimum template for me to conveniently squeeze images into without having to squint to recognise a picture. 😛
We are making preparations for our upcoming trip to South America (to be precise, Buenos Aires, Cuzco, Iguazu, Sao Paolo) and wanted to see which sights are a must-see for us (mostly me, heh, cos it is my experiment). Some are pretty obvious since they are on our bucket list, but what if I had to narrow down to 6, including those on the bucket list. What others would wiggle their way in?
Of course, there is the option of doing 6 per place which would be more realistic but then I wouldn’t be consciously making choices. So I did it, and it became very clear what my preferences were. History, Books, Window Shopping. In that order.
Can’t wait !!! 🙂