2 weeks in the magic of Cusco

Trip Start Aug 28, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

So we planned to take some Spanish classes in Cusco and l wanted to acclimatise in time to tackle the famous Inca Trail with a buddy from work, Matt (who was due to fly out to Cusco in a few days). Lou had done it three years ago so this one was just for me! Cusco stands at 3,310 meters above sea level and on the first day we went against all advice in our quest for food and tucked into a big pork sandwich for a late lunch (to combat the effects of altitude, they have a saying in Peru, eat a little, take things slow and sleep a lot). It was either that or the re-heated pastry at the airport which came back to hit us with vengeance at around 1am the next morning with both Lou and l vomiting from bits of our body that we didn't even know we could vomit from! ....horrid and exhausting, especially as we didn't have a private bathroom...just the shared one with a saloon style door... you get the picture! But after one and a half days, we were pretty much over it and it was then just a case of regaining our former strength and enthusiasm!

A few days later, we decided to move to a more lively and cheaper hostel closer to the main Plaza De Armas. We signed up to Spanish classes at a not for profit school, Fairplay, that trains single mothers as spanish teachers. If they pass a year of exams and training the program then employs them to work as Spanish teachers in the school. The daily classes started at 8am with 2 hours of grammar in class, and 2 hours of practical with another teacher where we would walk around town (all classes are one on one) Wow, after two hours of my first spanish ever, talking to local market people proved a tough challenge, but it was the best way to force us to use the lingo!
Lou continued classes whilst I was on the trek and got taken to lots of the museums and great Inca sites. It was for Lou, like having a free tour guide...only hitch being everything was explained in Spanish...didn't seem to pose too much of a problem though which was great! We also had cooking classes at the school on a Wednesday where students could come and help prepare a traditional Peruvian dish, and then we'd all eat 4 hours later! Hahaha! But it was good , and sociable and we met some great people.

Matt arrived on the Saturday and we were soooo excited to see a friendly face from home...we
had a great night of a few beers, food and catching up. The next day, we all climbed many steps to some Inca ruins that sit above Cusco called Saqsaywaman... we then took the long path back into town, through the hillside houses and spent the evening chilling in one of Cusco's many western style cafes (we even had a cup of PG Tips with milk!...a novelty after 4 months away from the UK!... not so muc for Matt who had only been away 3 days but he couldn't have been any happier to see his 4 o'clock cup of tea!) The next day we did some more tourist stuff in town, and then visited Cusco's main market - San Pedro, which serves the most delicious freshly squeezed fruit juices of whatever fruit you can think of, and some that were totally new to us too. The market also sold clothes and bags, cheese, chocolate, and had a meat aisle that pretty much includes every bit of every vaguely eat-able living thing! Frogs, brains, balls, intestine....enough to turn carnivores vegetarian!!...and none of it looked fit to eat.

Cusco is a beautiful looking town, with it's red roofs and several beautiful squares and gardens to sit in. We saw lots of teenagers dancing in the evenings, and Lou's Spanish teacher explained that they were preparing for festivals at Christmas and all year round. Whilst in Cusco, we all took a trip to the Sacred Valley. Matt and I were clued up on the structure of the buildings by the Incas and the symbolic meanings so were happy to share out knowledge with the group! Long day trip but some great views of Ollantaytambo and Chinchero, as well as the ruins at Pisac.

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