|Today is Phil’s birthday. We breakfast in the Hotel, drop off a large amount of laundry to be washed,still only (PEN12=A$5) and then head to the Square. It has been 14 years since we have been to Cuzco and whilst it does seem familiar a lot has changed. The traffic is a lot heavier and Cuzco seems more “refined”, not so much a hick little town.
We spot a café with a balcony overlooking the square so make our way there to enjoy a coffee and people watch. There are many marquees set up in the square this weekend for a book fair. Whilst enjoying our coffee we decide what we shall do today and tomorrow. I wanted to do a 4X4 quad bike and we thought we should do a city tour as it has been such a long time since we have been here.
We make our way to the Llamapath office to book our city tour. It starts at 1.20 so we eat a shared lunch at a cafe on the corner. The tour group is about 20 people and we start in a bus to the Basilica (one under the Vatican) in the main square. This impressive building built after the Spanish conquered the Inca in 1533. Construction of the building began in 1560 and took 98 years. There are many alters inside, cedar wood carved and then some decorated in gold leaf or silver both of which are found around Peru. Many beautiful paintings adorn the church. Some bishops are buried underneath the floors.
We then walk to the Qorikancha which are the Incan ruins that form the base of a colonial church. When the Spanish arrived and conquered the Inca, they converted the people to the Catholic religion. Then the Spanish destroyed parts of their temples but used the bases to to construct the new Catholic churches. There have been two major earthquakes in Cuzco 1350 and 1950 and each time the colonial structure has fallen down, but the Inca bases remain intact. Here are several rooms for worship, the sun, mother earth etc and the construction is very clever. The doorways are trapezoid to give strength. The walls are not horizontal but lean in slightly to give more strength. The corners stones are usually one piece and a sliver of paper cannot fit between the joins, which do not have any lime or cement to bind them.
We rejoin the bus to visit some outer sites. Firstly to Saqsaywaman of which only 20% remains. 50,000 people built this Inca city and the Spanish tore it down and the used the stone to build houses in Cuzco. It used to have 3 towers but none of those remain. However the terraces are magnificent and the stone work amazing. Some of the larger stones weigh 130 ton and yet the Incas had no machinery, only man power.
We then travelled a short distance to Q'enqo which was still an Incan temple but there are no stone walls here. However there is a natural cave which has a huge stone alter that was used for rituals. It's amazing as the alter stone is one rock and it's freezing to the touch.
We drive past Puka Pukara which is called the Red Fort. It was probably a guard post or a lodge for travellers. The stone it was built from has a red hue.
Finally to Tambomachay a water temple for the Incas. The water flows all year at the same flow and to date no-one has determined where the water originates. But it is sweet and clear.
Met a nice guy from Canada who lived in Melbourne and knew all about Aussie rules. Fun to chat to!
The bus drops us off near our Hotel and we walk up to get the washing. At 6pm we wander to Los Perros bar in a side street near our Hotel and I have a wine and Phil a beer and we have some yucca chips with mustard, blue cheese and avocado sauce. Yum!!!
We decide to eat in the square tonight at Inka Grill. A very professional mob, service is top class, although a bit rushed. I have Aji chicken with rice and Phil alpaca with a port sauce and veggies. A good night and he is definitley 66.