One of the activities we booked at the travel agency last night was a taxi to the town of
Chincero, a beautiful small town about a 20 minute drive outside of Cusco.
We are picked up after breakfast by our taxi driver who turns out to be a great guide as well.
Our first stop is a weaving school & coop here. There is a pretty
courtyard here, where women young and old are working away spinning thread & weaving all sorts of textiles. They have some really pretty stuff for sale. I buy a belt, and Allison buys a handbag.
We move on to the Plaza, with a short jaunt through their cathedral
which is built on an old Inca foundation. We check out the Inca ruins here, including a large field, where the locals have potatoes laid out on the ground for freeze-drying. Our driver/guide is very informative. Then it's back to Cusco.
We wander the Plaza and watch some more of the Festival, then visit the large, modern, Inca Museum. We are starving when we leave here, and walk into the first restaurant we come to, which kinda sucks. It might be the first bad meal we've had since our first day in Peru. We head down the Hatunrumiyoc Street (in the Quechua language "big stone") where the largest Inca wall in Cusco exists. This wall includes the famous 12-sided stone. The Incas'
stonemasonry skills were nothing short of incredible. In most examples of their carved stonework the stones are not uniform - every stone is uniquely carved to fit the others around it. This wall is no exception, and one giant stone in particular has become famous for its 12 carved sides. Like many Inca structures (especially those in Cusco) The Spanish took advantage of the Incas' excellent work to build a building of their own on this foundation. Here an opportunistic and unsolicited "street guide" sees us taking pictures and moves in to educate us (for tips, of course). She is surprisingly professional and informative for someone hustling on the street, and has a 3-ring binder with photos to help illustrate her talk about the stonework and legends associated with it. She shows us the hidden patterns of the Snake, the Condor, and the Puma (the three sacred animals of the Inca) which are built into the stone wall. Pretty cool.
Terry has been without new clothes for 2 days, and after a number of phone calls it becomes apparent that the only way for her to get any info about her luggage will be to go to the airport,. so she & mom head down there. Allison & I wander for a bit, then head to the hotel for a snooze. Mom & Terry show up with her luggage. Hooray! We all rest for about another hour, then head down to watch more of the dancing & festivities at the Plaza de Armas.
We head to dinner at 2 Nations Restaurant, another recommendation from Allison's colleagues, Priscilla & Ernie. It is owned by an Aussie husband and Peruvian wife, hence the name. We ask the aussie about the beer here. At this point we've tried Cusqueña (light and dark), Arequipeña, Franco, Zenda, and Brahma (all Peruvian) as well as Corona, and they've all had that weird taste. He says that it is indeed the altitude - and what the breweries try to do with the carbonation to compensate for it - that makes the beer crappy. Side note - Just yesterday, back here in the states, I am surfing a climbing forum when I come to a discussion about Diamox and altitude sickness. Turns out that one of the side effects of the Diamox that we've been taking is that carbonated beverages taste like crap. Funny not to add this piece to the puzzle until now. The food at 2 Nations is great.
Mom & Terry head to bed, but Allison & I got a bit more napping in today,
so we head down to the Plaza for yet more festivities. More music,. more dancing, more amazing costumes.
We are just leaving the plaza when I recognize a guy that was on our bus - and stayed with it - when we were stuck at the broken bridge (Day 7). We get the scoop. An hour or 2 after most of us defected to the other bus, the truck was finally cleared from the bridge. 3 or 4 more vehicles crossed, then the locals of the town grew pissed, wanting money for the materials of theirs used in the bridge repair. Their town and bridge were, after all, being exploited to some degree because of this strike, and all of the traffic HAD, after all, broken their bridge. They began yanking the replacement timbers up and tossing them into the river, and threw rocks at at least one car. At that point the driver of our original bus told these folks that they'd better find any way they could to get to Cusco, so they balanced precariously across what remained of the bridge and caught another bus, arriving at about 1:30 in the morning. We figure we left at just the right time, with just enough - but not too much - adventure.