Day 11 – 12, Cusco, Peru to Home

I know everyone must be so tired of reading about Peru.  But this is it!  The last day!  The last set of photos!

I wanted to make one comment about the train.  There are two train companies running to Machu Picchu, Inca Rail and Peru Rail.  We took Peru Rail to Aguas Calientes and the Inca Rail back. Both trains were impressive.

When the Inca Rail pulled in, it looked unprepossessing, brown and old-fashioned. However, the inside was cute, with little tables between the seats.
IMG_1360

They greeted us with fresh moist towels to wipe our hands. Gourmet snacks were served with the beverage. We even got yummy chocolate. You can see it on this photo that D took, unbeknownst to me.
IMG_6522

The next day, we walked around Cusco, shopping for souvenirs and visiting the rest of the museums on our Boleto Turistico (tourist ticket that allows entrance to multiple sites) that were within walking distances.

But first, we also caught a flag raising ceremony that is held every Sunday. The streets around Plaza de Armas were closed to cars for a few hours. It was nice walking without fear of being run over by crazy taxi drivers.

The ceremony was a relatively elaborate affair consisting of several marching bands and representatives from various groups, including the army and the police.
IMG_1376

Everyone marched with their legs straight up in the air.
IMG_1384

Except for the bands.
IMG_1387

And the Inca representatives.
IMG_1371

IMG_1373

IMG_1397

IMG_1398

Cusco flag is rainbow-colored, similar to the Gay Pride flag.
IMG_1429

After the flag raising ceremony, there was a procession to celebrate Assumption of Mary.
IMG_1409

IMG_1408

Afterward, we walked to San Blas, a cute art district in Cusco, to look for a Christmas ornament for me. I like to get a new ornament a year to represent some place special we visited. San Blas is located above the main plaza. It is about a 10 – 15 minute hike up narrow cobbled streets.
IMG_6534

I think the streets must date back to the days before automobiles. Some streets are barely wide enough for cars.
IMG_1047

A church in the main square, Iglesia San Blas. The admission was not part of the Boleto Touristico so we didn’t get to see the inside.
IMG_1045

We had lunch at Pacha Papa, a relatively inexpensive restaurant that had good reviews. We ordered a bunch of appetizers and a couple of pizzas. I was skeptical trying pizza in Peru, but every other restaurant in Cusco had pizza so we got curious. The Pizza Margarita at Pacha Papa was to-die-for good. All the dishes were great but we all raved about the pizza. Soso was so proud of herself because she had chosen it. Also to-die-for item? The lime-ade. Peru has limes similar to Key limes and the lime-ade was delicious.

David didn’t to take a picture until we were almost finished with the meal.
IMG_6529

Remember, I mentioned how Cusco is an interesting mixture of Inca and Spanish architecture? We were in a museum where we could see Inca walls and foundation showing through modern walls.
IMG_1132

IMG_1133

This is an example of how the Spanish covered the original walls with a mural and plaster.
IMG_1065

This 12 sided stone is apparently famous. See how the piece fit like a jigsaw puzzle with the surrounding stones? I guess 12 sides is a little unusual even in Inca masonry.
IMG_6526

I loved how many museums and municipal buildings had an interior courtyard with a fountain. This concept of a courtyard, like the plaza de armas is mirrored in greater and lesser dwellings throughout Peru.
IMG_1134

One of my favorite museum was The Center for Traditional Textile.  The museum had displays of traditional Andean clothes made from hand-woven cloths. This is traditional wedding clothes for the bride and groom.  Notice the intricate weave pattern?  HAND WOVEN!
IMG_1423

Andean weaving technique is passed from generation to generation by word of mouth.  With modernization, weaving is quickly becoming a dying art. The Center tries to preserve weaving knowledge and technique by encouraging the older generation to teach their children and by creating a competitive market for the textiles. The women here are working on pieces that can take months to finish. The cloth that’s hanging on the back wall took 6 women 1 month to complete.
IMG_1420

I wish I could have purchased a couple of pillow covers. They were so beautiful, but expensive at about $60 a piece. A traditional poncho, similar in size to what I wore in Marca, but with more intricate patterns was about 1500 soles or $500. While you can usually bargain at a market stall, this was not a place you could or even wanted to bargain. Those women literally worked their fingers to the bones and the artistry was worth every penny, if you could afford it.

IMG_1422

As we headed back towards our hotel, we ran across this map of ancient Cusco done in tile.
IMG_1428

We also saw this Korean Restaurant. I had to take a picture because it was so unexpected.
IMG_1436

It was getting dark and we discovered another side to Cusco. Beautifully lit fountains. We ran across at least three of them. This one is on the main plaza.
IMG_1431

As we were walking to dinner, we saw a large group of young people dancing. There was a group of girls and a group of boys and it looked like they were practicing choreographed movements.
IMG_1446

IMG_1450

We wanted to do something fun and special on our last night. We went to a restaurant with a dinner show of traditional dances. We were given flags to represent our various countries and we had the most with American, Korean, Peruvian, and Italian flags.
IMG_1452

This is known as the “scissors dance” because they use scissors as a musical instrument.
IMG_1469

This dance represented the Amazon region.
IMG_1472

That candle dance again…
IMG_1476

This dance was a little creepy. The dancers were very quiet during the dance and afterward, they crept up on unsuspecting diners and startled them.
IMG_1483

IMG_1485

All in all, the food was good and the dances were entertaining.  It was a relaxing end to what was at times a crazy and hectic trip.

We had a couple of hours before our flight the next day so we buzzed through a few more stores. I was still on the hunt for a stuffed llama for Soso. We saw these hats and had to try them on. D thinks I’m crazy, but now that I see this photo again, I wish we had purchased one for Soso. How adorable does she look?
IMG_1415

I was sad to leave Peru despite all the crazy mishaps we had. I will never forget Soso and her great-grandmother just gazing at each other in amazement. I will never forget seeing where D’s mother was born. I will always remember the majestic Andes and looking up and down Machu Picchu in wonder. Most of all, I will always remember the taste of Peru. The one thing that failed to disappoint, ever, was the food. From grilled meats to simple salads to the amazing fruits, I will remember all of it to the last of my days. Good food always leaves an indelible mark on me.

Last lesson learned from this trip. We’ll never fly red-eye again. The end.

IMG_1068

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s