Day 106-107: Cusco and trying to relax before Machu Picchu

I very much prefer travelling by land. As much as an areal view of cities is amazing, you just do not see the countryside and nitty gritty bits that connect each town from that tiny window on a plane. In Peru, travelling by bus gave us the opportunity to see behind the curtain of tourism and into the real living situations of people here. Some cities were pretty spaced out, so we needed to stop and find food in some of the smaller towns.

In one particular town, the bus pulled up next to a lady in her fifties, who was sitting next to a shop door. All she said was ‘mama’ and ‘papa’ with a croaked voice and her hand outstretched. When she was given money, she didn’t seem to understand it and looked confused when I gave her a chocolate bar. In the UK, we LOVE to assume homeless people have drug and alcohol habits, as it eases our conscience when walking past them. Where was this woman going to get smack from?!

As far as the homes go, if all four walls and roof were sealed together, then that seemed to be a win. We travelled past them mostly at night, and I didn’t want to be caught taking pictures of peoples homes, so again I’ll use the internet to give you an idea.

 

Remember, we were travelling anywhere from 2000-4000m above sea level on average, so the temperatures here would get cold! Apparently it’s not unheard of to get down to –15 degrees C!

For this leg of our journey, we had an amazing tour guide names Nilo. He was one of the first employees of the PeruHop business and is one of the highest rated tour guides – with good reason. The guy didn’t stop talking. As soon as we got on the bus, he explained the rules of the bus in as much detail as you could imagine.

“Please, do not poo on the bus. I have put cameras down there to check. If you have an emergency, like the poo is coming out right now, we’ll stop the bus so you can do it round the side. Sorry to be graphic, but I will name and shame any shitter on this bus!”. He then went on to call someone who worked in his company retarded for not sorting out someone’s pick-up properly. He was full of passion when talking about Cusco and surrounding areas, and demanded that we go on at least one walking tour. So we did the next day.

The walking tour was more than worth it! The first thing our tour guide, Markos, did was show us his calf muscles from walking up and down the streets all day. I don’t have a better picture of him or his calf muscles, but there he is below.

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He then marched us up some streets to show us some of the typical steep and narrow streets to show us some of the Inca architecture. It is pretty impressive to know that these stones are not only from as early as the 15th century, but are not cemented together in anyway and are cut to fit in a way that is superior to building techniques even today.

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To add to how impressive these stones were, they were sometimes enormous! I hope these photos give you an idea, using the people in the background for scale. DSCF6719DSCF6714

We were then taken to see some alpaca clothing in the making. There’s a type of bug that clings to cacti here that, when squished and mixed with different ingredients, makes some vibrant and permanent colours. Most of the traditional Peruvian clothes are coloured this way, and definitely do look bright!

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Our last stop was a view of the city of Cusco. It impressive to see the city climb up the walls of the hills nearby! The last photo is something Dan took – I have no idea where he saw it, but it was somewhere during this walking tour!

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This was an awesome day, but slightly overshadowed by the fact that Machu Picchu was the next day. I know that thousands of people do Machu Picchu every year, but it didn’t stop me from feeling incredibly nervous for most of the day about it.

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