About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Friday, November 2, 2012

Exploring Cuzco

 We´ve been enjoying our stay in the city of Cuzco.  It really is a unique place.  Nestled high in the Andes mountains at an elevation of around 3,400m (11,200'), the city was originally the capital of the Inca people, until the Spanish conquistadores took over in 1532.

The city is also the gateway to Machu Picchu tourism.  And we do mean TOURISM!!!  Although a World Heritage site, retaining much of its colonial and even Inka architecture, the name of the game here is tourism, from all over the world.  A city of around 400,000 people (3 times the number of 20 years ago), the main source of income for the entire place revolves around the over 2,000,000 tourists that visit each year.  While the city certainly retains much of its visual charms, we find the constant barrage of vendors hawking trinkets, paintings, coca leaves, tours, etc., can be oppressive.  How many times a day can you say "no, gracias"???  And, of course, if you want a photo of a local in native dress, it'll cost you.  Although we certainly visited some touristic places in Ecuador, it was nothing like this.

Casa Grande hosted a Brazilian bike touring group.  Our room in the corner
But like many places on the world tourist circuit (Katmandu, Taj Mahal, Egyptian pyramids, etc), the popularity is deserved.  The city clearly works to retain its original look, with even the US chains (Starbucks, KFC, MickyD) all having discreet signs which don´t overpower the locals.  Our hostel, Casa Grande, was built in the mid 1800´s in the colonial era, and retains its original courtyard design, surrounded by the rooms.

All in all, we like Cuzco.  It has a terrific public market, with Quechua native people selling everything imaginable to eat or wear.  Llama and alpaca are key critters for food, transportation, and wool in the Andes, and the market has lots of all categories.  There´s a whole zone of the market dedicated to "INNARDS" according to the sign.  They mean it.  Stalls specializing in alpaca and llama lips were common.  We gave 'em a miss.  Maybe next time.  The cuy (guinea pigs) are also popular, but the rascals are a bit pricey, compared to chicken and various other carnes.

Coca leaves in many forms are available everywhere.  They're an important part of Inca and Quechua culture even today, with all of the local folks growing their own for personal consumption. It supposedly works wonders for altitude acclimitization, and all sorts of other ailments. We've now tried it in tea, candy, and cookies, as well as tucking a healthy pinch of dried leaves in the cheek.  Maybe we weren't using enough, but we didn't get much effect.  Too bad!!!  Pisco sours seem to work quicker for us...

Tough to be a cable guy in this town!!!

It's amazing to come across remnants of the original Inca buildings still remaining from the 1400's.  Although the Spaniards destroyed much of the Inca civilization, they used some of the bases of the original architecture to build their new city.  The Inca stonework is truly amazing, built without mortar, with the masonry crafted with incredible precision. 

Large stone in the middle has 12 corners

Kids are kids everywhere, and they don't charge to take a picture!!

Local weaver, working with alpaca wool.

We'll spend the next four days trekking to Machu Picchu.  Stay tuned!!!

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