Naya’s relations turning up was the alarm clock we needed to rise and shine after hitting the sack at some ungodly hour of the morning.
Surprisingly, we awoke with no hangover considering all the abuse we had given our bodies over the past 60 hours – jet lag, altitude, coca tea, forgetting undies, pisco sour, Alpaca and dancing like no one was watching!
It was Naya’s actual birthday and they had turned up with a Pineapple cake to share and, cooked us another local dish of chicken, stuffed chilli, and yuka (a potatoe root from the jungle).
A couple of young Canadians rocked up for the airbnb hospitality in-time and “happy birthday” was sung again.
The remainder of the day was spent recovering, napping and, mapping out the next days activity – exploring Cusco.
The next day, Bronty escorted us to her favourite eating place for our second breakfast. We didn’t give it a second thought as the day of exploration involved a bit of ground under the boot soles.
Sidewalks and roads are cobbled and rubbed smooth from the centuries of wear. We happened upon the spot where thousands of pics have been snapped, the Inca stone with twelve sides. The craft of yesteryear at how the Inca people mastered the art of construction is mind boggling considering how old the architecture is.
Care was taken as we navigated the narrow sidewalks. Size of midriff does matter as to who gives way. Being mindful of the traffic is also important as a wing mirror can easily bruise a butt cheek or groin. Depending on the direction of the vehicle. Smaller steps were taken so as to ascend the step upward direction we were stepping. Breathing became rapid.
Cusco is just an unbelievable crisscross maze of streets and alleys. As is the wiring to electricity and the many different establishments standing shoulder to shoulder. Signage dangled from above. Hawkers peddling their wares for a sol or two were temperamental compared to Thailand – they weren’t in your face.
We wandered through the old quarter of Cusco, San Blas with colonial houses built with walls of Incan stone. Up up up we went. The orange half round shaped roof tiles became more prominent and widespread, as far as the eye could see. Bronty’s escort transitioned into accompanying us as it wasn’t her intent to have joined us on our little meander. She was quickly becoming familiar with what a ‘Ruru’ meander was, inspiring her with “one more set of steps”. We reached a point where she said “stuff it, we might as well go to the Sexy Woman” … it was always our intent, we just hadn’t communicated such.
They refer to the site near the big Jesus statue with arms extended overlooking Cusco (a smaller version of the one in Brazil) as the Sexy Woman. It’s real title is Sacsaywaman. And, the view standing under the big J of Cusco was just spectacular. Just a sea of orange.
Returning back down, we descended down steps with a larger gradient than on the way up. Some of the residences certainly were shanty type abodes. Walls made of mud; roofs held down with blocks; washing hanging from anything as long as the sun’s rays could be absorbed. Being grateful for what we have at home wasn’t hard to swallow.
We were soon back in the Cuzco city centre, the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. It used to be the Inca Empire capital before the Spanish conquest. They basically decimated any remnant of the empire to re-construct the circumference with temples, churches and mansions.
Today, tourist restaurants, jewelry shops and travel agencies occupy the lower buildings. Cafés and bar the upper.
We rested the legs rehydrating above the multi-cultural crowds. Children in school uniform dotted the plaza and we made the decision to walk home. Bronty continued to accompany us, versus taking a taxi. Still holding confidence in my ability even after my map reading had us back track a couple of streets a couple of times!
We arrived home having explored.
But it didn’t stop there. We ended up going out for a cheap and cheerful dinner with Naya, Bronty and the Canadian lads Adam and Nick. Then Naya drove us up to the Big Jesus again to view the city at night. The colour of orange glowed from the city light noise. And it was just as spectacular as the day light view.
Cusco is a city to be placed on your list of destinations to visit if thinking about pointing your nose towards South America.
Whether to holiday or … to live!