Cusco, Peru: Not everyone who lives in the Andes Mountains crashed their airplane.
At 4,300 miles long, the Andes is the world’s longest continental mountain range. Running North to South, it cuts directly through the middle third of Peru, separating the county’s interior rain-forest from its coastal desert. The Incas thought the Andes was the perfect place to build their capital city.
Cusco, Peru is a city of almost 400,000 light-headed people living at 11,200 feet in a valley plateau. It was the original capital of the Inca Empire for hundreds of years, and it’s easy to see why. It’s hard for enemies to attack a city they can’t find. Plus, enemies would
Yet even if you somehow found Cusco and lay siege to the place, YOU’D probably starve long before the citizens of Cusco would. It has everything you could want (except maybe oxygen). Being near the Urubamba Valley, Cusco is almost an entirely self-sufficient ecosystem, with almost limitless glacier-fresh spring water, llamas, guinea pigs, fruits and vegetables — it would be years before they needed something from the outside world. So the Incas no doubt thought they were safe from most any threat. Sadly, they were wrong.
Rather anti-climatically, the entire Inca Warrior Nation got taken down by a Spanish force of about 400 (it took only 40 to take Cusco, itself). The Incas were
Our flight on LAN left late, but since we didn’t crash into the Andes mountains and have to resort to cannibalism, we called it a win. Stepping off the plane, we
Everything was so exhausting that it made us seriously weigh just how badly we needed to something before exerting the required effort—breathing we decided, was worth it, but not much else. Ordinary activities became optional, such as eating while sitting up, or doing anything while sitting up. Had it been an option, we would
To be on the safe side, we’d been taking altitude sickness pills yet, except for getting more winded than an asthmatic bulldog, we
At 11,200 feet, Cusco
The city quite resembled a European city, with narrow cobblestone streets, wide, open plazas, and beautiful fountains. Our hotel, another Casa Andina Private Collection — not to
We had a tremendous lunch of alpaca tartare (or was it carpaccio?) at the
Following the meal, we shopped for something made from the llama-like Alpaca we’d just eaten. While Amy shopped for a woolen sweater, I hung out in the sunny, cool mountain air getting propositioned by young Peruvian girls offering me massages for $10 an hour. Unfortunately, they seemed like legitimate businesses, so I said “No” (but in Spanish). Back at our hotel, we literally passed out from the exertion of being upright.
The next day, we took a tour of Cusco and saw Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus. Built on the indestructible foundations of an Inca palace and packed with beautiful Renaissance-style art that local artists of the day
The Cathedral of Santo Domingo, built on top of the Inca temple
We next drove up to an ancient fortress/temple overlooking Cusco at
Back in the plaza, we got to witness a parade celebrating