Today we are headed to Cuzco. We left the hotel before breakfast was served, so we just had a yogurt. At the airport, we checked in and paid the 15 Soles exit tax. Then, we were finally able to get more food! Pain au chocolat!!! It was fresh and warm just like in France!
When we got to Cuzco, I started feeling a little light headed and had to took it slow and take deep breaths
While we waited for our rooms, we drank coca tea to help with altitude sickness. It’s made from the coca leaf.
Before we left for lunch, mom’s legs were starting to swell. We didn’t bring compression socks or altitude sickness pills, so we called dad. He said take vitamin C
pills. Mom also got a leg massage. I was a bit scared because we went in a little back room with curtains to divide the massage areas.
While mom got her massage, I went on the Cuzco city tour. It was great. We went to the Inca temple to the sun god, Quri Kancha (Coricancha) in Cuzco. It was interesting, because when the Spanish took over they stripped the building of its gold and silver leaf, tore down the walls and built a monastery on top of the Inca temple.We then went up into the mountains and saw the ruins in Saqsaywaman (Kenko, Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, and Saqsaywaman). These were awesome. There was
the temple of the water god with fountains, the temple of the Pachamama (mother earth) with an alter to mummify the nobility, and the big temple of the sun god.
At the large temple there were stones that were 180 tons!
The last stop in the tour was the Cathedral of Santo Domingo in the main square (again built on an Inca temple). It was beautiful and covered with gold that was mostly stolen from the Incan temples. The majority of the artwork was created by the Inca people, so they incorporated many symbols from their culture that the Catholics didn’t notice.
For instance, there is a replica of the last supper and in it Judas has a darker skin color to represent the natives snubbing Jesus.
In addition, all the crosses the natives made have Jesus looking down and beaten up, where as the ones the Spanish made have Jesus looking into the heavens and pristine. All of the mother figures, like Mary, are dressed in large triangle shaped, earth-toned dresses to represent mountains and the mother earth. It was sad that the Spanish imported a painting of Mary that was put at the front door (the door of salvation). They told the Incas that if Mary looked at you when you came in (which all paintings from that time in Europe did) then you were a sinner. So the Incas were always trying to work off their sins.
After the cathedral, the tour was over, which was good because I was starting to get short of breath from the altitude. I went back to the hotel room where mom was resting. She then got another massage. I was amazed at how much Spanish I could understand from the masseuse.
We went to dinner at a restaurant that had a music and dance show. I got to eat alpaca! After dinner we took some night photos and went back to the room to go to bed.
Hotel : Casa Andina, Classic Plaza
Reflections and tips :
- Altitude sickness is very real – Even if you are fit, altitude sickness is very real. Cuzco is more than 11,000 feet above sea level. You will probably feel this difference the moment that you get off of the airplane. Stairs are harder to climb and hikes are more taxing. Be prepared with compression socks and, if you are asthmatic, an inhaler. Talk with your doctor and make sure they don’t recommend you have altitude sickness medication with you. If you are going to Machu Picchu by way of the trail, make sure that you prep while at home by running and hiking ahead of time.
- Enjoy Cuzco – As you can tell, this was an action packed day. Cuzco was the Inca capital city and there are many amazing sites that you can visit in the area. The city itself is clean and safe. Not to mention, the people are extremely welcoming. When we were trying to find something to help with my mother’s swelling, the waiter from our restaurant found a solution for us!
- A little Spanish goes a long way – As with any international trip, it is helpful to know a few words to help you get around town. Even though many people will know some English, depending on where you are traveling, it is always a nice gesture to try to communicate in their language.