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Saturday, 28 June 2008


21st - 28th June 2008

After the white knuckle bus ride with Expreso Power, we arrived in Cuzco, by far the most touristy place we had been to so far.
The ancient Inca capital is said to have been founded around AD1100, and since then has developed into a major commercial and tourism centre of 275,000 inhabitants. Almost every central street has remains of Inca walls, arches and doorways; the perfect Inca stonework now serves as the foundation for more modern dwellings.

After finding a place to stay, we set out to explore and eat. At the tourist information office, we first bumped into Gustavo and Annie who had been in the Jungle with us. They had just managed to get the tourist office to divuge the secret cheap way to get to Machu Picchu! We turned round as someone came through the door, and to our surprise it was Steph who we had met in Sucre, Bolivia!!!

We arranged to meet up later on in the day and spent the next couple of days both exploring Cuzco and working out how we were going to get to Machu Picchu. The Into Raymi festival was also happening this week, so the city was particulary busy! The train to Machu Picchu had also sold out for the follwing few days... what were we to do...?!

Food was a highlight in Cusco, especially a small kebab shop that also sold falafal wraps... I think we ate there 3 times, but it might have been more... It's a must visit place if you are in Cusco, shame we can't remember what it's called!!! It's shown on our google map, the location is there but the name missing! There were several other cool bars, recommended especially is Indigo for it's Pisco Sours and Jenga!

Inti Raymi, or the festival of the Winter Solstice is enacted at the Incan ruins above Cusco, at a place called Sacsayhuman (pronounced Sexy Woman!!!). On Tuesday afternoon, we hiked up the hill along with thousands of other people to catch a glimpse of what was going on. Unfortunalty, the american dollar had yet again proved too tempting for the Peruvian authorities, and the whole thing had been turned into a stage show for the rich tourists.

Instead of being able to stand on the ruins and watch the ceremony, the local people along with us were shepherded to a field far away from the action. Several hundred rich tourists had paid $90 US to get grandstand seats for the show. In previous years, this had been a festival for the people of Cusco, but greed had got the better of the powers that be, and the locals were no longer able to see or hear anything.

To our amusement, after 30 minutes of not being able to see or hear the action, a few brave people tried to break through the police lines that were holding the mass croud back. They were soon caught and returned, but this had got the crowd excited and soon chants of 'Vamos, Vamos' drowned out any of the real show. Without warning, the crowd surged and broke through the police cordon, thousands of people flooded onto the ruins and were able to see what was going on! Another victory for the people! You can see more pictures of the enactment here.

The following day we set off for Machu Picchu. You can read more about that mini adventure here. Needless to say, we didn't quite take the traditional route to get there!

On returning to Cuzco, we spent one more night to recover from the adventure (and the endless flu) before taking the night bus onwards to Arequipa.

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