Pirhana fishing, Sacha Lodge (Yvonne Smith)
We start a busy day with a visit to the church and convent of Santo Domingo. This may initially sound a little dry except that the Spanish built this on top and around one of the most important temples of the Incan empire. The architecture is an interesting mix. The Spaniards could not move many of the massive stones used by the Incas so they attempted to plaster over them. The archeological restoration reveals the underlying construction and the history is very interesting. Our next stop is the main market in Cusco. This is a large building where the locals shop and it is an incredibly assault on the senses! Ayul takes us through and shows us many of the unique Peruvian foods including many things with natural medicinal properties. The butcher section is of particular interest to the boys (and my revolution) as one can see pig heads, cows mouths, hooves, brains, penises, tongues, etc. etc! It's a regular week day in Cusco and the market is packed with locals, many in traditional Peruvian dress out doing their shopping. It is quite a sight. From the market we grab a taxi and take a drive to the outskirts of town to see another important archeological site called Saksayhuaman. One of the most striking features of this site are the enormous stones used to build the wall. it is something of a mystery as to how the Incan were able to shape, move and fit these massive blocks together with such intricate precision without mortar and that they have been able to withstand centuries including many earthquakes. We head back into town for a nice lunch before heading to the Incan museum. We do a quick run through to view smaller artifacts which reinforce what we are learning at the ruins. After this we have a look inside the cathedral on the main square. It is unbelievably ornate due to the fact that Peru is a large producer of gold and silver, everything in the building has been slathered with it! When we leave the chapel around 3pm, we say goodbye to our guide Ayul for the final time. While we have only been with him for 5 days, we have really come to like him and he has been amazing with the kids. Perhaps not surprising given that he has 2 children the same age as ours but he has been a perfect fit for our family along this journey. As if we haven't done enough already today, we decide to take a look into a little place called the chocolate museum which is part museum, part cafe and part store. We celebrate by tasting Peru's finest (which is fine!) We complete our day, what amounts to the end of the Cusco/Machu Picchu leg with a dinner at one of Cusco's finer restaurants. With everything it has going for it, Peru has just recently been receiving international recognition by foodies as the next big thing. Our experience bears that out. Good-bye Cusco!
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