|Cusco in it's valley at 11,200 ft|
Right: The Plaza de Armas, main square. I've discovered why all Peruvian towns/cities have Plazas de Armas. It's to do with the Spanish conquistadors basing there soldiers in the town centres and having their HQs there.
On arrival in the outskirts of Cusco, 1.30 pm, the first thing I noticed, as around Lima, was the grey dust which seemed to cover everything. The second thing was the lack of oxygen. The town is 11,200 ft up and it felt like it. Any effort resulted in breathlessness and feeling a bit lightheaded. I was told you got used to it. It also gets very cold when the sun goes down.
Right: A creature of the night. I think they started to go to bed around 11.00 pm. Well past my bedtime.
Left: Another colourful performer.
Left: Self explanatory.
Right: Inside. The TVs were showing rugby when I first went in. Wales v. Argentina. This was the most genuine looking and feeling 'pub' I have been in outside Ireland or UK. It changed somewhat on the Sunday night before I left when the place was invaded by a pack of Americans who insisted on watching one of their 'netball' matches.
Right: All over the town there were girls and women dressed up in the Quechua costume carrying or dragging their livestock to provide a 'photo-opportunity' for us tourists, and to expect a few 'sol' for the priviledge.
There are 3 sol to the dollar.
Cusco ( Cos'quo in Quechuan ) was Inca HQ between 1430 and 1536. It had some imposing buildings which the Spanish proceded to plunder and wreck. I went on a couple of excellent tours, most profesionally organised, of the city and the so-called 'Sacred Valley' to the west leading to Machu Picchu. The Incas did not tend to live in towns, they lived up the mountains in scattered small settlements. The low flat ground was kept for agriculture, and maybe the odd palace. One of their great skills was building and architecture, much wrecked by Senor Francisco Pizarro and his boys after 1536.
Right: A better pic of Saqsayhuaman. Understanding the Inca civilisation and what all their magnificent constructions were for, and how they developed the expertise that went into making them sufferes from a major drawback. The Incas, unlike the Maya, left no writing. They used the form of record involving knotted and beaded lengths of string. I can't remember what it's called. So, any 'authoritative' description of what they were up to is, more or less, conjecture. Even the tour guides admitted that most of their marvellous graphic descriptions were based on guesswork.
Left: A herd of alpaca for sale at the market in Pisaq. So much there and so little sold. Lots of clothes made from '100% baby alpaca' were always being touted. We were told that the other unsung animal hero in the area was the timid and rarely seen acrylic which lent a lot of it's wool to supplement the hard pressed alpaca.
Right: Some of the terraces. I don't think I would volunteer to work the tractor on that. There is a drop of about a thousand feet off the bottom edge.