Cusco, Peru (2)

When we got back to Cusco after the Ayahuasca ceremony, Murray had already secured our apartment—she went straight back to the city after the Machu Picchu trek and met up with the owner of a place we found on airbnb. It was adorable! Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen, living room with cable TV, 24/7 security, etc. (for $45/night.) It even had a jacuzzi that we never ended up using.

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We all definitely needed some time to decompress after two massive experiences: the Salkantay Trek and the Ayahuasca ritual. It felt especially comforting to have a home in which we could settle down for a week, cooking, reading, writing and relaxing. It was also great to know we had extra time to explore the city of Cusco as there was so much more to see and do there!

Qorikancha was once the most important temple in all Inca civilization. In Quechua, “qori” means gold and “kancha” means enclosure. This building, now considered the city’s Temple of the Sun, was once covered in gold—walls, ceilings, floors—and had a courtyard full of gold statues.

When the Spanish colonists came to Cusco, they stripped the temple of its gold and built the Santo Domingo church over its ruins. The difference between Inca and Spanish stonework and masonry is blatant:

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Murray and I took a nice tour of the temple, which is still beautiful today due mainly to its strong base. You have to use your imagination to picture what it was like back then, but its easy to appreciate the history and culture behind the building!

Another Cusco hot spot we enjoyed was the Centro Mercado Artesenal. This indoor market is teeming with vivid textiles and traditional crafts. We spent hours wandering through the lanes, considering the variety of sweaters, purses, headbands, slippers and trinkets in each stall. It was hard not to go crazy and buy everything, but I managed to get out of there with just a few gifts for my family (and maybe one or two things for myself!)

IMG_0446One morning, Murray, Kyle, Meghan and I got the itch to go horseback riding. We hiked up 500 steps to Saqsayhuaman and found a boy who would rent us four horses for 20 soles each (about $8.) We had such a nice time riding through the fields and forests!

Other than that we spent the remainder of our time in Cusco wandering around and chilling out at the apartment. We found a hidden gem of a restaurant called Roma Mia, where we celebrated Meghan and Jason’s birthdays our first night back in town. The food was delicious and Kyle went so far as to say that it was the best meal he’d ever had in his life! The chef is Italian and when we started ordering from him it turned into a full-on shouting match while we collaborated on off-menu items. We ended up going back to Roma Mia several times over that week and he and Kyle became close friends!

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In our search for a live music venue one night we came across another local joint: 7 Angelitos. Murray, Meghan and I arrived way too early for the night scene (probably around 8PM,) but decided to chill at the bar and wait it out. We ordered a round of mojitos, which the club is supposed to be famous for, but they were sickeningly sweet so we switched to beers. After a while the place filled up and we were able to get a table right in front of the makeshift stage. The band rocked! They played a mix of local folk music, pop, reggae and rock. At one point, the lead singer picked Murray’s glass off the table and played his guitar with it, then took a huge sip before slamming it back down—it was awesome!

We all felt very at home in the city (despite the cold,) and I honestly hope to return one day. There is so much bright culture and interesting history! The people are welcoming and there is always something to do. Cusco will always hold a special place in my heart..

Posted on by Erica Duncan in Peru

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