Cusco is quite high in altitude, over 11,000 ft above sea level. I was quite worried that there may be some type of altitude sickness, but luckily I’ve had none. You’ll see some people huffing and puffing throughout walking around the city, but other than that, I’ve had no effect from being at altitude.
Today, we spent walking around the city taking in the sights of this significant ‘navel’, or center of Inca nation. The native Quecha language named Cusco as such to signify that this city was the center of the inca nation, so many things center around the existance of this city. From the hostel, we walked down towards the main Plaza de Armas that has beautiful cathedrals and churches. After visiting the square we headed to look through the recommended Inca Museum. For a country with a wealth of history, I was surprised that the Inca Museum was not better presented or thought out as a major tourist attraction. Walking from room between room, you could view artifacts that had been uncovered from the Inca nation, along with the historic time periods of Peru’s past.
After visiting the museum, we headed for the San Pedro market place. It was a huge market with everything fresh from meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. We stopped and took a picture with a woman selling some fruit juice, and I had juice from a tiny little fruit that looked like an oblong tomato. She said it was kin to tomato, but Ill have to look up and see exactly what it was. It was a nice juice, and we drank two glasses full, while chatting with her.
After this market, I headed down to check out the Artisan market for a bit since I wanted to look for some ceramics or pottery that might be nice to bring home. On my way down the Avenida del Sol, I saw a cafe that looked like a french bakery, so of course I stopped in. I had an afrijole with dulce de leche, and it was so good. When the lady walked up to me to take my order, she said what beautiful blue eyes. Sometimes I forget that when you go to a place that doesn’t have many blue eyed people, that it can stand out a bit :) After chatting with her for a while, we took a picture and I was on my way down to the market.
Arriving at the market was a maze of handicraft stalls all selling things from Alpaca wood shawls, mittens, hats, sweaters, ceramics, masks, very colorful blankets etc. It was fun to look through things and see what handicrafts represented Peru. I then headed to the Plaza of San Blas which is well known for artists galleries and such and saw some great shops with art and crafts.
We then met our guide in the evening, and after being told he’d arrive at 6pm, we waited for a little over an hour before he showed up.. which of course made me nervous. However he sat down and told us about the next day which we would join a tour to see the Sacred Valley. He talked a little bit about the trek that we signed up for, but didn’t give us much details, so he said he would come back the following night to discuss the hike with us in the evening. We were excited because it sounded like there might be just 2 of us on the trek, so it would become a private journey!
We’ve met some nice German girls in the hostel, and we have been hanging out with them. They are traveling throughout South America, and the world for that fact for 12-18 months. So we went to dinner with them and enjoyed a nice meal, but I was so hungry after we walked and searched for food, that I was crashing fast. We ended up at a nice Italian restaurant, but I had overextended myself for the day literally walking since morning, and the sun was hot, my face red, and my feeding time about 3 hours past. After the first pizza came out, i was starting to feel so badly, that i had to leave dinner and head up to the room to rest. Lesson learned! Maybe there are some effects from the altitude that were subtle, but after a good night’s rest, I was back to normal.