Day 2 in Cusco dawned a little overcast and grim, quite like my mood carried forward from the previous evening.
A breakfast sandwich loaded with avocados and olives and Cusco cheese plus tomatoes improved my outlook a little bit. Souvik and I walked down to the Plaza de Armas to meet a colleague over a coffee in a particularly cheery cafe, by which time the sun was out in full force and my gloomy spirits had lifted too.
Some quick research over the internet had thrown up a few options for me to explore, and I picked 2 sites – Qurikancha and Sacsaywaman, both within walking distance of the plaza.
Qurikancha, at its height of glory, was an opulent Temple dedicated to the Sun God, with walls of gold and solid stone masonry. After the Spanish invaded, they demolished the temple and built a church over the site, incorporating some of the Inca stonework. Those stone walls stood the test of time, through numerous earthquakes, while the church was damaged. I found little to see for my 10 soles ticket; and left largely disappointed, except while reading about the Inca theories of astronomy and such stuff. To give you an idea, the Incas observed not just the stars, but the dark spaces between stars too, and their constellations were a combination of the two (see the astronomy photo below).
The outdoor was more fun.
Even the llama managed a little smirk.
Señor San Roman, Souvik’s colleague, had offered to walk to Sacsaywaman with me, and I was glad to have a local expert to hang out with. Off we went, trundling along at an easy pace, all the way up the hill, catching interesting sights along the way.
The combination ticket for some 10 different attractions is quite a bit, but I opted for the partial ticket of 70 soles to enter Sacsaywaman. If you think this is a tongue twister, say ‘sexy woman’ and you’ll be very close to the correct pronunciation. See, the Incas were visionary – with all these names for future generations to remember easily.
This site is a fortress, started by a pre-Inca culture, but expanded by the Incas. The stonework is breathtaking, even if it is just a ruin, after the Spanish tore down most of the structures to build their own city in Cusco. I learnt that the Inca method was to cut the stones to the perfect size, and stack them in a precise manner without the use of mortar to bind them. Amazing! And the size of the stones, especially the lowest ones!! The mind boggles thinking about how they must have transported and constructed such buildings.
Since this is built on a hill, I was able to get some beautiful views of the historic centre of the city.
And some words of wisdom:
I obeyed, and was rewarded with some alpaca sightings. Had to follow them around for a few minutes to allow them to get used to my presence.
Here is a ‘working’ alpaca – will pose for money, but the ladies were on a break and I took advantage.
Coz nothing is cuter than an alpaca with tassles, right?
Señor San Roman owns a beautiful B&B near the Plaza de Armas, called Rumi Wasi, where we stopped on our way back, for a traditional afternoon snack of choclo con queso and mate de coca.
After a long day, it was time to catch the last rays of the sun at the Plaza, and a quick self-timed rare photo of Souvik & I together.