There's nothing pretty about this part of the town, rapidly deteriorating old buildings line the streets, their looks might have at best been described as spartan when newly erected; they weren't even cute as a babies.
Traffic is surprisingly heavy, with roundabouts being assaulted from multiple directions by aggressive drivers playing a primordial game of chicken to see who will yield first, puffs of exhaust from their ancient cars floating upwards like the breath of an agitated dragon.
|a placard to the city of Cusco|
My head aches, a symptom of minor altitude sickness, which my host immediately tries to remedy with coca-leaf tea. While the natives swear by coca (from which cocaine is derived,) most tourists believe it to be merely a placebo. For me, the jury is still out.
video: coca leaf tea preparation
I'm doused in cold water. Taking heed of the wires sprouting in seemingly random directions, like stems from a potato, I gingerly reach up attempting to change the settings on the electrical shower-head, my prayer for warm water only earning me punishment via a quick jolt of electrical current.
Stepping outside the building's gate, I find an elderly native woman with a tiny fruit stand. For two soles (57 cents) I purchase three bananas and two Andean fruits whose name remains a mystery.
Incan descendents one and all, with seemingly no foreign intermingling, Cuscenos' features are dark, and the majority are short and squat. At 178 cm, I am a walking tower.
The streets narrow, the buildings increasing in both value and charm as I near the center of this touristy town. The gateway to Machu Picchu reveals itself, travel agencies line the streets, interspersed with restaurants whose prices far exceed the Peruvian norm.
|Peruvian handi-work I purchased|
|the puma fountain of Cusco|
|church in the Plaza de Armas|
|central fountain of the Plaza de Armas, Cusco|
Continuing up the street, the Plaza de Armas, (the central plaza in all Peruvian towns are named such) opens before me. I walk around admiring every inch.
While by no means tout free, compared to other tourist centers in poor countries, the area is surprisingly chill.
video: the plaza de Armas of Cusco
|artwork outside the center- the puma is a spiritual animal |
for the Incas, representing the earth
Further from the center, the buildings begin to revert back to their spartan like ancestry, which, along with the darkness and cold downpour, cue me to head back to my gracious AirBnb host who has a coca-leaf tea waiting for me to help combat my throbbing head.
I'm actually glad to have been rained on. I'm not exactly keen on re-entering the shower.
video: some of the highlights of Cusco, including the puma fountain