Day3; Saturday April 3, 2010 First Full Day in Cusco
The day started with a wakeup call at 5:30 a.m. Once we were ready we went off to a surprisingly well-stocked breakfast buffet in the hotel. As planned, we met Ayul at 9 a.m. in the hotel lobby and started a full day of tourism. Our first stop was the Temple of the Sun and our initial exposure to the architectural stone work done by the Incas. The temple was originally an old Inca palace that was built using only cut stones, no mortar. The palace was partially destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadores and later rebuilt by the Dominicans using colonial style architectures. The original foundation of the palace was left in place when it was rebuilt but the upper walls were rebuilt using bricks and mortar. It was an impressive piece of history. Our next stop was a walk to the St. Pedro food market.
The St. Pedro Market was one of the most interesting stops on our adventure. This is where the local farmers bring their crops from the fields to sell at the market. You could find fruits and vegetables of all kinds at this market. You could also find medicinal herbs and mixtures that have been used for centuries to cure arthritis and other disabling diseases. There were potions that had claims to increase one’s sex drive, a love potion, divorce potion, and a liquid that, if you drank it, would make you hallucinate. I did see the bottle of this liquid and I think it would do more than make you hallucinate, I think it would probable kill you if you drank it. It looked like it came out of the bottom of a squatty potty. The most interesting part of the market was the meat section. You could buy a freshly amputated pig’s head, the whole torso, just the feet, a cow’s lips or tongue, or a Llama fetus. But the most highly coveted purchase would be a bull’s penis. There was also a local lady skinning frogs inside the market. After we left the market, Linda went outside and vomited…only kidding.
Our next stop was Sacsayhuaman or as Ayul pronounced it “Sexywoman”. We took a taxi from the main plaza to Sacsayhuaman for 10 Soles. We toured the ruins than went to the alpaca factory were they made sweaters, scarf’s, hats, blankets and other clothing items. They showed us how to tell the difference between baby alpaca, adult alpaca and almost alpaca fur. Most of the vendors selling alpaca clothing in the market will usually tell you it is baby alpaca but in actuality it is almost alpaca, which is a combination of adult alpaca and synthetic materials. The best way to tell is its pure baby alpaca is to feel the material. If it feels cool on both sides of the material it is authentic baby alpaca. I purchased a sweater and Linda purchased a poncho, with flower embroidery, for 700 Soles. They were so grateful that they gave us a complimentary ride back to town.
We then went for a tour of the main cathedral located in the Plaza De Armas. We were amazed at how well they cared for the large paintings and other statues inside the cathedral, especially because the cathedral is still used for services; no pictures allowed in the cathedral. We had lunch at the Inca Grill in the main square. It was another great meal. I hade alpaca fetus on wheat bread and Linda had vegetable lasagna.
Our last stop of the day was the Inca museum. It was very interesting to see the tools they used to build the massive stone structures. I still wonder how they could chisel these exact angles to fit the humongous boulders together like a puzzle. I find it hard to believe the design and engineering of these buildings is so precise that they have withstood several major earthquakes over the past centuries with minimum or no damage. We finished our day and went back to the room for a short rest. Our plan for the next day was to meet up with Ayul at 7 a.m. in the lobby of the hotel. That night we walked downtown and found a nice coffee shop with a 2nd floor balcony overlooking the Plaza De Armis. I had an American coffee and Linda had a cappuccino and we each had a piece of apple pie with ice cream. We went back to the hotel to pack our bags because we were leaving our hotel in Cusco and moving to Ollantaytambu for our last night before we start trekking the Inca Trail.