Today is a free day, but we still have Marco's guide service, so we visit a few more places in this beautiful city. We go the Qorikancha--an ancient Incan temple that was ransacked by the conquistadores--as well as to the local market, with its pigs' feet (and heads!), and meats and fruits and vegetables of all kinds. We buy a couple of large round loaves of sweet bread and thick slabs of cheese. We stop by the shaman's shop, where dried llama fetuses dangle above our heads. Marco takes us to a bookstore so I can buy a Peruvian cookbook, and the rest of the afternoon we have to ourselves. Brenda, Diane, and I sit in the Plaza de Armas to eat our bread and cheese and watch the people.
This evening is Brenda V.'s birthday celebration. We all head over to Marco's wife's restaurant, A Mi Manera, for a sumptuous dinner. I've eaten so much meat on this trip, and tonight is no exception! I order an alpaca steak and dig in. A local band comes in to play "Happy Birthday" to Brenda, and a chocolate cake is brought out for us all to enjoy. This is our last evening together. Bill, Beverly, and Brenda V. are flying to the Amazon tomorrow. Brenda D. and Diane are flying home. And I am taking the bus out to Puno and Lake Titicaca. We say goodbye to Marco (surreptitiously slipping him generous tips), who has become a good friend in these past days, and opened up Peru to us in a way that none of us expected.