Day 7 – 5/28 – Cusco

7:00AM – After waking up at 5AM two days in a row, 7AM sure felt like sleeping in. The included breakfast was nothing to write home about. We’ll probably just skip breakfast tomorrow. A Cliffs bar will suffice.

9:00AM – Natalie and Ganita picked us up for a city tour of Cusco. Qorikancha was our first stop. Qori means gold, and Qorikancha used to be ornated with gold before it was stripped by the Spanish. It was a place of worship for the Inca before the Spanish conquisition. It wasn’t until an earthquake in the 1950s that the Incan walls were revealed. The Spanish had actually plastered over the Incan walls and built on top of them.

10:00AM – Our next stop was the Catedral Basilica. It’s a Spanish cathedral that took one hundred years to build. A lot of Incan blood and sweat was spilled during its construction. It houses more than 300 oil paintings. The altars are usually carved from cedar wood with intricate details and then coated with a layer of gold or silver.

11:00AM – Next, we visited Saqsaywaman. Yes, it sounds like “sexy woman.” It was most likely a temple but could have also been a fortress. The most impressive part about it was the enormous size of the rocks used in its construction. Every year, during the winter solstice (June 21), the festival of the Sun is held here. One thing we saw here that most visitors do not get to see was a live condor. We even got to take pictures with the three-year old condor.

12:00PM – Then we proceeded to Q’enko. It’s kind of like a labyrinth because of the way it was hollowed out. Religious rituals probably occurred here. In one of the caves, there was an altar where priests would perform the mummification of the deceased.

12:30PM – Our last stop was Puca Pucara. It was most likely the very first hotel in Cusco because of the number of rooms in the structure.

1:30PM – The guided tour portion of our day ended, and we returned to our hotel. Climbing up the stairs to our room, I was getting pretty winded. Maybe it’s the altitude or the lack of food. Or maybe it’s because I’m so out of shape.

2:00PM – Based on recommendations from Frommer’s, we decided to have lunch at Pacha Papa. One of their house specialties is guinea pig, so we had to have a taste. We ordered half a guinea pig. Not much meat on the thing; so it’s kind of like eating squab in that sense. But the crispy skin made it taste like fried chicken. It’s not bad; I’d like to try it again.

3:00PM – After lunch, Alice and I roamed the streets of Cusco. We tried to find a few sites listed in the guide book, and soon discovered how much we missed having a tour guide. On top of that, it began to rain, but it only lasted for maybe thirty minutes. Then we met this young local named Ruben. He began acting as a tour guide and began spitting out facts about the Inka Wall that was in front of us. And he showed us where the 12-angle stone was located; which Alice and I were having a difficult time finding on our own. Finally, here was the catch. He was selling postcards and wanted 20 soles for four postcards and to be compensated for his time. I was going to tip him approximately that much anyways, so I ended up giving him 15 soles (US$5) for two postcards and his time.

7:00PM – We had dinner at the Inka Grill. Alice had the aji, which was shredded poached chicken in some kind of light cream sauce. I had the tuca tuca, which was probably the best meal I’ve had in Peru so far. It’s a breaded alpaca patty with a fried egg on top. It’s definitely a must try if you go to the Inka Grill.

10:00PM – There was no hot water to our shower! It was finally fixed, but it delayed our bedtime. Good thing we are sleeping in tomorrow.

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