Leisurely strolling through this narrow village perched on a narrow ridge we discovered far from narrow-minded people. Life is tough and relentless, but the communal spirit shines. Trolleys laden with all manner of goods are pushed up very steep inclines by sweating men, while tourism has spawned countless market stalls and a sea of plastic water bottles………..please someone find a natural alternative soon! Yet the many, many hotels thrive alongside little street food outlets catering to globally diverse foreigners and Peruvians seeking to discover their history and heritage.
The Plaza wraps around the school, and the Catholic Church with its dark–skinned Christ and the civic infrastructures. A very peaceful spot away from the buses and construction sites in tbe main street.
So it was back on the Vistadome train with its evil devil and classy fashion show entertainment for the return trip to Ollantaytambo, then the car for the 2 hour grip (I mean trip) to Cusco up to 3400 metres. The Andes rise majestically along the route and the fertile valley produces some of the 1,000 varieties of potatoes, grazes tbe alpacas and tne turkeys run wild on the local soccer field.
As we neared Cusco the poverty and hopelessness of the arrivals from the countryside seeking jobs just boiled over the hills. There are now about 645,000 people in Cusco, but it is having trouble keeping pace with the influx. Apparently if you build, though ‘build’ sometimes looks like structures thrown together by children, you don’t pay taxes until it is completed………so of course most are unfinished deliberately. Traffic is horrendous and there are many homeless street beggars. Quite a sad place really.
The city tour was under threatening skies and with a patch of blurry photos of the main cathedral in the main square Plaza de Armas and the Temple of the Sun about 15 minutes south of Cusco. The amazing stone construction techniques, forged by skilled stone masons brought as slaves from the north, are huge, on an incline to produce the pressure needed to maintain the structure without any mortar, and were not destroyed by the Spanish. The round rocks above are thought to have been used to roll the large pieces from the quarry 20 miles away. The rather spooky cave-like image is the sheltered cave where animal sacrifices were made to encourage plentiful harvests. If the alpaca, sheep and guinea pigs didn’t so the trick, then children up to 15 years were taken to a different location and sacrificed.
The museum and textile centres were very informative and LSM found the back weaving technique of the women very interesting – so now we have a beautiful woven table runner to enjoy back home. Food has been typical Peruvian, with a special meringue thrown in as a Mother’s Day treat, and market stalls are all much the same, but the old Incan capital and significant Spanish seat of commerce and religion has much to offer for the walking tourist and the traditions and hopes can be seen in the chronological mural above.
Farewell Cusco and best wishes for a future which hopefully finds a way to build an infastructure to cater for such an expanding population.