Yes, that’s right. After countless airport stopovers and marginal inflight meals, my GLG (German Love God) Tim and I finally touched down in Peru late last Saturday night. We were keen to high tail it to Cuzco as soon as possible, so only lingered in Lima for a night (long enough for me to be able to recount a memorable taxi ride from the airport where I freaked out and shoved all my bank cards down my knickers in case we were hijacked at the traffic lights on our way to the hotel). Arriving all in one piece and feeling a little less paranoid and sleep deprived the next morning, we were ready to begin our adventure.
Sitting at a lofty 3,300m above sea level, Cuzco is one of the most important archaeological cities in the Americas. Steeped in history, it was once the heart of the mighty Incan empire. Today, its huge Incan built stonewalls; narrow cobbled streets, and busy plazas are the setting for modern day hustle and bustle. It also serves as a convenient stepping-stone to Machu Picchu, making it a hot spot for travellers.
Completely by chance, Tim and I arrive in this charming city the week before Easter – one of the most holy weeks of the calendar for this staunchly catholic community. What does this mean I hear you say? Crowds, festivals, parades – you name it. My only comparison is that an Easter parade in Cuzco is like the shores of Sydney Harbour on New Years Eve. Seriously. You can feel the energy pulse through the city as women in colourful traditional wares sit on steps selling palm bouquets, men dress in their best suits and boys shine their shoes in doorways before running off to join the throng of the crowd.
We enjoyed exploring the city and wandering the streets for a couple of days as we acclimatized to the altitude. We visited the Incan ruins of Saqsaywaman (yes, you read right) and enjoyed a Pisco Sour or two. We also sampled some of Peru’s traditional dishes. My only regret is that I couldn’t bring myself to try the grilled Guinea Pig, a delicacy of the region (I blame the fact that my first pet was a three legged Guinea Pig called Toffee that ran away!). All in all, a great beginning to our South American adventure.
Next stop…the lost city of the Incas.