When I first arrived at Cusco I felt a horrible headache, and an immediate short of breath. Well not so strange perhaps considering the city is in the middle of the Andes and its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft.). I did not expect the altitude sickness to influence me that much, but it did. So I as the rest of the travelers I met, rushed to the pharmacy to get the miracle cure. I chewed coca leafs until they perked out of my ears, and I drank the tea. But nothing helped and the first day was therefor spent in the hostel, in on of their many beanbags.
Cuzco is a beautiful city with well preserved colonial architecture, evidence of a rich and complex history, and the capital of the inka empire. The city itself represents the center of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes, and by merely walking the streets one sees the layers of the history.
To really experience the local culture you will have to move out of the tourist areas. The difference on the city centers where you will see most of the tourist and to the more local parts north of the city, is immense.
The marked in Cuzco (San Pedro) is a must see.
There was very little that was not to be found on this marked. We are talking different penis sorts, llama fetus (that was used in some ritual), bowls and all type of tongs. The lady in the picture above (right) is peeling frogs. And the most interesting part is that it was all used for some type of food. They absolutely make use of all parts of the animal.
The Easter festival is the big event in Cuzco
Cuzco is a very clean city. So after each parade the cleaning crew followed. It was extremely effective, and not even a piece of paper was left. The parades continued for 4 days and the entire city was in celebration.
The Military had a big part of the parade.
It was strange to the see the coffin with Jesus being protected with machine guns.
Nightlife, food and the people
The nightlife is a backpackers fantasy, and ekstreemly good. And so is the atmosphere of the city. I ended up staying there for two solid weeks while I took trips to Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley and Manu.
The food is really good. Both Guinea pigs and Lama is on the menu, and you should try it. I thought it was really good, and the guinea pig tasted chicken like.
The Animal shelter!
It was a touching experience to go the animal shelter at the cuzco university. It was also with a bitter taste, because it did feel strange that it was so many animals there, and I could not get a clear answer if they where to be put out to the wilde again. As we walked between the cages it did feel more like a zoo. And if that was the case, then it was a zoo where the animals did not have enough space. What was stated is that these are the animals that was rescued by customs, and eligibly tried smuggled out of the area.
Some of these animals like the Tayra which is in the weasels family (the middle picture) and the Brown Capuchin monkey, totally broke my heart.
(The cat in the pictures above is an Tigrillo Ocelot, and oh boy was he a beauty)
All in all it is a fantastic city and absolutely someting one must see in a lifetime. If you have not been there before, please book your ticket!