"Finding Nirvana is like Locating Silence" Jack Kerouac- Dharma Bums
Cusco is a lively, friendly, colorful and amazing city. It is not very big in terms of land area, but every square inch is packed with potential. I loved it right away and felt like I could spend days there just meandering around the different plazas, or people watching on a park bench. The blend of Quechua and Spanish Colonial cultures is truly unique. Cusco is also full of a multitude of culinary delights, so bring your eating pants.
Plaza De Armas
The view from our hotel room
Quechua culture is still very strong in Cusco. While you find many women dressed up for tourists, you will also learn that many Cusquenas' first language is Quechua.
Qorikancha or Santo Domingo church is a very impressive ruin. The church was built using the foundations of Incan ruins which is typical of most of the buildings in Cusco. You can see the Incan stone work behind glass in several places. While there wasn't much in the way of photo opts, it was one of the most interesting tours we took. This and the tour of the Cathedral of Cusco really highlighted the combination of cultures in the area.
If you look closely you can see where the stone work is original Inca and were it was redone...the Inca didn't use mortar.
Yellow flowers were being sold for their petals everywhere. This particular bunch was at San Pedro market, which was one of the coolest markets we went to. It has everything from food to flowers to the trinkety tourist stuff to real clothing (not just I heart Peru shirts). There were whole pigs and fish (with very impressive women carving them up), as well as more kinds of grains and potatoes than I had ever seen in my life. Another plus-- it's only a 15 minutes walk from the Plaza De Armas.
New Years Eve in Cusco was an experience like none other. Fireworks and fire crackers were going off literally everywhere. Everyone had something that was on fire, and it was phenomenal. You definitely have to be aware of what is happening, and be quick to duck, but it is 100% worth it. The vibe in the square was so friendly and celebratory. The band played a song and sounded horns to remember every month of the year. Every time they would remind the crowd to be grateful to the Pachamama (mother Earth) and the Gods for all that they had done to allow them all to be in that square together. Then the horns would go off, the crowd would cheer, and more music was played.
These three pictures pretty much sum up the scene. After midnight things started to get a little bit more intense. I'm talking huge cannon style fireworks going off right on top of us. We saw a group of policemen over in a corner and thought we might head over there for a safer view of the activities. The police however, were simply blocking off an area for some folks who were firing those huge things out of champagne bottles. Everyone celebrated with our friend in the white hoodie when they actually went up. haha.
The Cathedral all lit up. The buildings in the square took their fair share of hits from fire works. I'm sure historians would cringe, but it was pretty cool watching them "bounce" off the walls.