Around Cusco and, school

All around the central area the professional Cuscans and their llamas sit, or stand, collecting money from tourists wanting photos. 

Tourists everywhere.

Narrow streets and, llamas. A unique sight.

The llamas are adorable. Many have cute little knitted hats. True! Obviously they start as little babies and are brought into town by their owners. What a great life. Nursed all day, fed with bottles and a lifetime of being treated like a baby.

Getting this pair cost me. I loved the different babies. One black with a little hat and the other, not as dark with its little red hat, almost lost among the coloured clothing of their owners.

Each group wears different clothing. Llamas being the common feature.

Typically tourists sit beside the llama and woman for a photo. And it doesn’t make everyone happy!

What is it about the Kiwis? How do they get their flag carried along with a few other select ones in a parade here? How do they do it? Coincidentally a lovely Kiwi was sitting a few along from me as it passed. Only one I’ve heard here and she had the broadest accent at that!

Feeling fit and well after arriving in Cusco took me 3 days! Sunday was the first day I truly believed again that life is good. And four days after I arrived I was no longer breathing hard and sweating heavily every time I dragged myself up stairs. I even helped a woman carry a pusher with kid in it up stairs.

Started on Monday morning walking a couple of laps up and down a hill behind my apartment each morning. ‘Cos I could! Success. And I’ll try and increase the number of laps as the days pass. Up to 4 now! A triumph given how I was a day or so after arriving. 
From a little higher in town Cusco spreads out through the valley and up the nearby hills. Beautiful. Where I live looks down, directly over the main plaza. From my front door, down some stairs and the view is, wow!

And around town, hills, narrow streets, houses built of stone and different materials. 

Narrow alleys, usually with stairs.

The new is built discretely in behind older walls. 


Next first for this trip, a museum. The Qoricancha (or Coricancha or Qurikancha or Korikancha, depending on the spelling you favour) Museum and the Santo Domingo Church are a central point in Cusco. 

Once a significant Incan building the site was given by the Spanish conquistadores to one of their own. When he died it went to the Dominicans. They of course rebuilt for their needs, and incorporated some of the original Incan building into their new church and monastery. Somewhat like the Mesquite in Córdoba, an ‘other’ religious building was taken over by the Catholic Church. 

Would I recommend visiting this site? No. Save your S/15 and buy a couple of coffees!! Yes, I liked seeing more evidence of the phenomenal skills the Incans had with stone. They made 3 dimensional stones fit so tightly they didn’t fall during the two major earthquakes here the invasion, unlike the colonial buildings, severely damaged both times. A mortise and a tenon, each very cleanly cut, lie on the floor in the Incan part of the building. Astounding craftsmanship. Absolutely astounding.

Not much else to see though in the so-called museum. Some posters in Spanish and english with a cursory history of the Spanish invasion, some paintings celebrating the contributions and history of the Dominicans and a number of generally strange religious paintings fantasising about various saints and angels. Lots of symbols and imagination there! 

The exception was a painting picturing the Dominicans, the conquistador Francisco Pizzaro Gonzalez and the Incan ruler, Atahualpa. This was a little more interesting. Also full of symbols but more inherently interesting and not just imagination. Otherwise, not much.

Sure, you can visit the church. Lots of nice dark wood. Hmmm. All in all, not recommended. A few more museums to go. I’m only bothering with those recommended on some websites as I’m getting cynical. There are lots of tourist rip offs here – a ticket for this, one for that. A national park and ruins up the back of here, for example. Entrance costs S70 ($U23, ~$A32). One walk! I’d like to do it but not at that price. No wonder a trip to Peru is so expensive. Getting into Machu Picchu and the various ruins we will visit on the way is likewise very costly. Hopefully the money goes into maintenance and upkeep and not the pockets of the corrupt! Think other world heritage sites….

Yes, I end up resenting tourist prices. You can only keep getting milk while the cow wants to give it. And I’m choosing not to visit a lot of places. Like most churches. You have to pay to go in! Ha! Not me. Or museums with few contents. Nah! 

Started school Monday afternoon. Not at the place which was my first choice. However, I am lucky with the one with a vacancy! My teacher is from Barcelona and has a university degree. A ‘refugee’ from Spain where youth unemployment is depressingly high.  

I like school. Sometimes I think I’m never getting anywhere but it’s not true. Each time I have to relearn a lot but each time I’m a little better. I don’t kid myself, I’m never going to be a fluent speaker or able to understand a higher education level of Spanish. I want functional Spanish and I’m getting there. 

Back to D, my teacher: somehow we talked about religion, almost inevitable in a hispanically focussed country. I was astounded by her views, so similar to mine we could have been singing from the same hymn book! It being a broad based exploration of my strengths and weaknesses we moved on quickly. Still, interesting!

I’ve decided to stay with the same school if I can have D for the week. Yes,apparently. She is smart and working with her pushes me. You know how it is, not wanting to be shown up. 

June 24

Tomorrow is a very special day here, winter solstice and a festival of the sun. 

More coming soon. Every day since I arrived there have been parades, building to this most important day in the Cuscan calendar. 

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