When one arrives in Cusco, the traveller is cautioned about altitude sickness. To combat that, Diamox is recommended as well as the tea immediately offered made of coca leaves…Becky is a bit nervous to try it…but we were both absolutely fine. Off to explore Cusco, we walked up the steep streets to the San Blas area, the artist’s neighbourhood! and ventured in the Iglesia de San Blas Cathedral with the most gorgeous wooden carved pulpit. Lunch at our new favourite “Greens Organic” and time to sketch the main square of Cusco…
We loved the feeling of Cusco. It reminded me of a “Peruvian” Florence in Italy (where I had stayed for a month for a solo show in 2010) with it’s winding streets full of surprises and colors and cathedrals and art.
In the centre of Cusco is the Convent of Santo Domingo, which houses some of the most important temples of the Incan Empire, mainly the sacred Qorikancha Temple, or “enclosure of gold”. Inside were the wonders of Inca construction, and their beliefs in cosmic and terrestial gods were explained- that the Inca King was descended from the sun, and that the stars, the moon, lightening, thunder and rainbows were worshipped as Gods too. The Temple of the Stars was constructed for the adoration of different constellations. The stars in the sky would predict certain events.
Onto the archeological site of the Sacsayhuaman complex, the first being Tambo Machay where I was greeted by my new Peruvian grand-daughter (after giving her a candy!). And we met our new llama friend too.
The women impressed me the most, all in their respective village’s outfits…painting worthy!! One braid means you’re single, two; you’re married.
All over the complex the structures mimic the features of the surrounding country side, or “organic architecture”. Here Incan astronomers observed the sunrises and sunsets during the summer and winter solstices. They could determine the time to plant and harvest and know when the rains were due to arrive. Throughout, seats and windows carved into stone, and even rocks that form the shape of a puma with eyes that flash brilliantly when the first rays of the sunrise hit it during the winter solstice. Huge rocks of limestone weighing from 90 to 130 tons form the excavated temples, esplanades and fortresses. One can also see a magnificent panoramic view of the city of Cusco.