Inca Country

Trip Start Apr 23, 2005
Trip End Mar 31, 2006

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Saturday, September 3, 2005

The bus trip from Cusco was a hair-raising 8 hour affair during the day, so by the time we arrived we were all chomping at the bit for a taste of the nightlife (which we heard Cusco was famous for). After settling into the hotel, we had a feed at a touristy restaurant and then headed out to see what was on offer. Small pub, pool table - seemed like a good place to start except that the holes were the smallest I´ve ever seen (well at least that´s my, and Glenns, excuse for putting in the worst performance I´ve ever seen bar the pants down episode in Prague). Quickly bored at not being able to impress, we headed out to the main square - Plaza de Armas. I didn´t know what to make of it at first - There was a sizable group of us, but as soon as we entered the large square, we saw about 20 people on the other side of the square break into a run... straight for us. We soon learnt that all the clubs around here employ touts to try and get you into their clubs. Each one was clamouring for attention and it was almost impossible to work out what was what over the frenzied screams of 'free drinks', 'girls', 'weed' and 'cocaine'. No kidding. We finally decided on a place called Mama Africas and climbed upstairs into a seedy crowded bar and claimed our free Cuba Libres (or dirty rums as they soon became known - cheap, nasty, hangover inducing, but certainly effective). About 15 minutes later we decided this wasn´t the place for us left, a bit depressed and with the feeling that the night might not happen after all. We popped into a club a bit closer to home and with a resolve and energy that was waiting deep down in all of us, we had a great night.

I managed to get away in the middle hours of the morning. Poor Glenn stumbled in around 7 after a very eventful evening and spent most of the day sleeping it off. That day was a free day, so there was lots going on, but I decided to spend the day wandering by myself around Cusco. This city is amazing. Originally the capital of the Inca empire, it was partially destroyed after the Spanish conquest and rebuilt in their image... but not quite. Its still based on the original Inca street plan and much of the Inca stonework and architecture still remains, used as the foundations for the newer Spanish buildings. Wandering around you can still get a sense of the Inca city that was there before. In fact some of the architecture is Inca work at its best. Walls of monstrous boulders, shaped immaculately to fit perfectly with each other in rectangular and polygonal blocks. The most famous block is about 2m wide, 14tons and joins with its neighbours on 12 individual sides:

12 sided block in imperial Inca wall

View over Cusco

Inca wall and some local kids

Now we´ve all heard of the Inca civilisation and a bit about how the Spanish conquest destroyed it and ruined a lot of cool stuff (they weren´t the nicest of conquerors). But its also worth noting that the Inca civilisation, who could be equally as barbaric, were only around in their imperial stage for about 100 years before the spanish came and that the Incas who had a standing army of about 100,000 soldiers were defeated by the Spanish who´s army was made up of only about 400 conquistadors. 400 blokes, that's it. From a purely miltary and political point of view the Incas, and despite a recent civil war, the Incas were fairly strong, but the Spanish with their exceptional expansionist ideas and tactics, were bloody ruthless. They were very very lucky (as you would expect 400 against 100,000 would need to be), but at the end of the day, the Incas were no match for them. This is a fascinating country.

So after taking all that in, I had a fairly quiet night in preparation for the Inca trail starting the next morning. Early.
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