¡Hola, El Perú!: Entramos Cusco.

The 1992 Juan Bravo mural along the Avenida del Sol.

We left the grayness of Lima to come into the full sun of a much cooler Cusco. Drink lots of tea and break, we do not want you to get sick. Matt actually did, but I went out with Pat and we walked around till we met our group.

Mate de coca, not nescafé, became the drink of choice as we sat each break or late evening in the lobby. It was always pleasant. I never felt any effects of the heights. I got the same story in Santa Fe, and that was without the tea. This was a different world from Lima, more indigenous, smaller, more intimate.

This was once the center of the world of the peoples who spoke Quechua and whose king was known at the Inca. It is the Rome of South America, perhaps even both Americas. Through pure vindictiveness its capital was disassembled, if not almost destroyed by Pizarro. I remember our guide, Sheila, in Lima talking about him like a dog. It was then, that I realized the peoples of Peru, see their destiny in their indigenous roots, not European, who they see as colonialists. Signage was both in Spanish and Quechua.

It was refreshing to be there. The tourist stuff was confined to some small shops, and the friendly local women trying to sell hats, gloves and scarves on the streets. Nothing, like the desperate, and nasty selling of goods in Egypt, not long ago. People sometimes dress in native dress, to get paid, this man (left) was Pachacuteq. So we walked in the Plaza de Armas and noted the Baroque architecture in brown stone and the Monumento Pachacuteq at its center. It looked amazingly different from that of Lima. Gone were the pastels and decorative concrete.

But the block work at Koricancha and Convent of Santo Domingo (directly above), belie earlier roots, with peoples who understood structure of block to earthquake. The Spanish sacked the buildings to use the block. Using ugly thick mortar, where planned cut stone had sat one interconnected to each other. The stones themselves were “readable” (not random) and had meaning.

And finally, our guide takes us to the walls Hatunrumiyoc. In that stretch of about two blocks long, we see remnants of a building with earthquake proof block work, done by people the Spanish considered savage. How awful is nationalism, and how condescending religion can be.

For moreon Cusco

¡Hola, El Perú!: Streets in downtown Cusco

¡Hola, El Perú!: Plaza de Armas in Cusco

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