Cusco, Peru
3° 16' S 72° 25' W
Jul 22, 2007 22:14
Distance 1102km

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Cusco, start of the trek

Got to Cusco at 8 in the morning.  Back to altitude (3700 M).  I can feel that I am used to it, but I am pacing myself and going back to the zen walk method of mindful breathing and walking.

Cusco is town of 500,000 dating back to 1550.  It is at 3700 M (like highlands of Bolivia).  The town is totally geared to tourism.  The streets are clean; the structures are in excellent condition having been re-stored to their original style.  The centre of the town is a wonderfully restored and attractive court yards with an open plaza, two churches (one from 1550, took 100 years to finish and a second started in 1650).  It is so wonderful to wander around as the sky is blue, the temperate 20 and the feel of the town so inviting.  I have never been in such a tastefully restored old city before which maintains its original character and spirit.  As the locals are still in relative poverty, the combined feeling is that you are really back in the 1800´s. Cusco is right up there with Tailin (Estonia) or Rega (Latvia) and China in the 1980´s.  Absolutely charming and yet real. 

Cusco is famous as it is the start of the Inca trailand gateway to Machu Picchu.  Every day 500 trekkers are allowed to do the Inca trail, others can do Lana´s trail or take the train.  City churns a serious number of  foreign tourist everyday, making for a very prosperous economy.  Cusco itself is a very hilly town which just adds to the charm.  I rememeber when Lorna and I were in Ireland and we met anolder man that did a trip aboard once a month and I asked him what was his favour and-or most impressive destination and he said Machu Picchu.  At that time I had never heard of it.  Well, guess what, I am now there-here.

 There are two churches on the courtyard in the centre of the town.  I have never had such liberty in wandering around in a church, nothing was out of bounds.  I was told that I could go up stairwells to second floor balconies. Some tourist were walking around the altar at the front of the churches, was taken a little aback by this lack of  reverence. Let go, let God. 

Today is Sunday and there was a parade in the centre courtyards.  Thousands of proud locals in their Sunday suits parading around banners.  Not sure what the occassion was but they sure were passionate.  July 28 is the national day of independence and I will just have finished the trek and will be in Lima that night.  Guaranteed to be a major party, the Peruvians are extremely proud of their country and times right now are very good- never been better (as mineral prices are at all time highs and mining is the most important source of income in the country).

 As I was wandering around I came across a steep set of steps.  Decided to give it a try.  116 steps, 3 minutes later and out of breath I was at the top.  It is experiences like this that make travelling to challenging and adventurous places so real and complete. Feels so good to be up-to-date on the blog.  Will be signing off for five days as I will be in the wilderness.  Would appreciate feedback or inquires, the internet does keep me somewhat grounded.  Further the net is soooo much faster compared to Bolivia and I have figured how to multi-task why makes matters so my faster. 

Looks like strikes will not affect the hike.  There have been several obstacles which have evaporated as I have moved about.  Someone (Lorna) sure is look after me and blessing this pilgrimage, I am so blessed and fortunate.  Retirement and travel seem to agree with me; just have to invent a role to fit the travel into (why am I going into the future and out of the present).  All I can say is that tomorrows will be joyous.


Totally pumped 


Photos / videos of "Cusco, start of the trek":

Cusco centre courtyard Narrow streets of Cusco, not really designed for cars Buttom of 116 steps Top of 116 steps, 3 minutes later.  Accountants countor measure everything.  Some aspects of me will never change PTL View from the top of the steps Different view from the top of the 116 steps Another view from the top of the stairs Street merchant Cusco is hilly Hills around Cusco Centre court yard Bought a water colour painting of this scene Side of church on the courtyard Interior of one the two churches in the centre of city.  This is the less beautiful one beleive it or not View from the second floor balcony of the newer (1650) church Main church photographed from the balcony of the other church another balcony shot.  This morning this square was full of locals in their finest attire.  Perhaps one of the other courtyard shots shows the parade and crowd