Aside from the beggars here there are quite a few stray dogs wandering around. This is not Romania where they will take your fingers off. Most of the dogs are scared of people (probably due to beatings from the locals). Kim and some other ladies that we met in town fed a few of them. They were gentle and some would not take the food out of your hand. Use caution here since Rabies is not fun if you get it since they have to stick you in the stomach. Use your best judgement.
My buddy wanted to attend a mass at the Church next to the Cathedral. We tried to attend the mass going on but was informed it was private. Soon enough, all these people dressed in high military uniforms was exiting.
We had already booked our hotel before leaving Brazil so, when we arrived at Cusco´s airport, the lady of Hotel Prisma´s kyosk walked us to a car that took us to the hotel. As soon as we arrived there, even before taking our luggage to the room, they served us coca tea to avoid the effects of "soroche" (the altitude sickness).
To be honest with you, I don´t think that it helps. Unless you drink liters and liters of it. I´ve had strong headaches on the first 2 days.
Cusco will take your breath away!!!
Cuzco is the Navel of the Inca World and the main Plaza is the navel’s heart!? From here narrow cobbled streets like arteries radiate to the four corners of the city and beyond. This is more or less expected but the real zest for life is given by the pungent smell of excrements that consistently clogs all these arteries. This is a detail that no guide book talks about, as if the stench-fearing tourists are going to give up on Cuzco and Peru altogether thus making the guide useless and the business bankrupt. There is a winner in this case and it is not Lonely Planet but rather hotel Loreto. Advertised as a unique place at the main square and containing real Inca walls in the guest rooms, it is poised for a bright future of uninterrupted tourist flow. What the unsuspected tourist is bound to experience though is the concentrated smell of human and maybe dog excrements in the narrow Inca-walled street when he or most probably she, opens the window for some fresh air.
For somebody who has come fresh from Copacabana in Bolivia this might not cause high eyebrows but flown directly form Stockholm, let’s say, it could be a shock.
Plane ride in Peru gives the traveler another insight into machismo and racism living free and undisturbed in South America. As far as the first is concerned, one has to go no further than buckling up in his seat and he will hear the familiar refrain: “Seniores y Senioras”. Here, just like in any restaurant or other service oriented businesses, the foreigner might be shocked by the “men first” attitude.
When talking about shock, or culture shock, there is no better example then the noisy “Inca-here-Inca-there-and-everywhere” marketing campaign compared to the white only staff of LAN Peru or Peru Rail. Suddenly, the Inca, or their credible heirs, have disappeared into the interplanetary void, so much for racial sensitivities in the real world of post-conquistador Peru.
If you want to try the local specialty, you'll have to try some Cuy - roasted guinea pig, just keep in mind that it is served complete from the oven...head and tail included.
Yes, it tastes like chicken -- dark meat...
Around Plaza de Armas are a few restaurants serving traditional Peruvian food like guinea pig (cuy). The cuy is served with its legs, eyes and teeth’s. I don’t know which wine that goes with guinea pig but I guess a full-bodied red wine…
What it tastes like? The answer is that it tastes just like hamster… No, seriously, it tastes more like chicken but with a little difference…
If you are tough, try for your self!
This dish is different to dishes from other places. We use big "rocotos" , cut the top and take the seeds out very carefully. Then we have three boils. We fill them with a mixture of grinded meat, peanuts, raisins and green peas. When we have already filled them we overflow them with beaten egg to be then fried into very hot oil. We serve them decorated with roasted potatoes.
PEPIAN WITH RABBIT OR GUINEA PIG
First choose the kind of meat you prefer, pass the animal under boiled hot water and peel it carefully. Then we take the viscera out and cut them into four pieces to be then powered with corn flour before frying them into very hot oil. Into another pot we prepare a dressing of onion, fried garlic and red chilli. We covered the guinea pigs with the dressing and then we add peanuts after seasoning well. We serve rice and boiled potatoes.
cooked dish soup of chick-peas or mushrooms with potatoes, milk, eggs and cheese.
CHICHARRON WITH MOTE
Pork cooked with its own fat , we serve it with "mote" or corn with the grains beaten.
Mass of sweet corn wrapped into banana leaves and cooked in steam.
mass of corn filled with meat, wrapped with banana leaves and boiled in steam.
soup of fresh corn, chick-peas, yellow peas and huacatay (kind of mint).
pork with "chicha" and other species. Local cook.
OLLUCO WITH MEAT
Cooked dish of ollucos and cecina called llama meat.
A delicious way to discover something more about the culture we want to know is by its food. Cusco offers one of its more important cultural elements to the visitors: its typical dishes.
The "chicherias" and "picanterias"are open to whom wants to enjoy the delicious "rocoto relleno" different to other places, the "Puchero", the "Pepian" with rabbit or guinea pig, the cheese "kapiches" and the "chuñocola", all accompanied by a refreshing local beer, spirituous liquor or "chicha", it depends on you.
If you have ever tasted any of these dishes and would like to know the ingredients or the preparation, we offer you some of the recipes of the typical dishes in our city.
TIMPO or PUCHERO
Prepared on Tuesdays during the carnival. We build the chest of a cow, head of lamb, bacon and feet. Then we add entire leaves of cabbage, potatoes, "moraya", chick-peas and rice. On a separate pot we boil sweet potatoes, peaches, pears and "yucas". Both things are served separately similar to the "sancochado" but covering the ingredients with a leave of cabbage.
It is a typical dish eaten any time of the year. We boil meat soup with some sausages, rice, chick-peas and potatoes of regular size. Then we add "chuño" dissolved in cold water and we cook it. Generally, this dish is eaten with a wood large spoon called huislla.
The Andean Condor is the largest mountain bird of prey in the world. The Incas greatly revered the condor because of its soaring freedom, strength, and what they believed was an ability to communicate directly to the gods. This belief formed the basis of an ancient Inca dance of the condor, which later translated into the song "El Condor Pasa", which was then later made famous by an American duo named Simon and Garfunkel. Part of the charm of the song today is that it is backed by Andean musicians playing woodwind instruments. You'll see the Condor figuring prominently in temples and designs throughout Cusco and the surrounding region. The Quechua Indians still respect the condor today, for almost the same reasons as their Inca ancestors.
I have to admit, I've never seen such large kernals of corn as the ones I ate (and they're extra tasty!) in Cusco. It's called maize (maiz in Spanish) and this giant version of corn dates back to the Inca Empire, when only the ruling royalty and special warriors were allowed to eat it. Cultivated by the Incas and grown by the Peruvian Indians today, this maize seems to thrive only in the Sacred Valley area, around Cusco...efforts to introduce it into other areas have failed. Scientists believe it is a perfect combination of the soil, the climate, and the altitude.
Don't pass up the opportunity to eat some of this nutritious, delicious corn while you are in the Cusco area!!!
I'm not referring to a "school" per se - I'm referring to a very peculiar technique of painting that originated in Cusco. 17th century Spaniards taught the native Peruvians to paint in the style of the Flemish and Spanish masters. What is considered to be remarkable about this is the fact that the natives were completely ignorant of classical painting and had no previous training in this style whatsoever - but they proved to be tremendously apt pupils - quick to master the latest European techniques which the Europeans themselves took years to learn, much less master. The style that grew out of this was known as the "Cusco School of Art", blending a peculiarly "native" style with European brush strokes and classical training. The technique is very specialized - and you'll see it everywhere in Peru, especially Cusco. It is still being used today and is recognized on its own unique merit.
It was one of the first things I affirmed while skipping around Cusco that first morning - I couldn't wait to see for myself what I'd studied from books in school. If you're interested, any of the art gallery owners will be happy to provide you a deeper explanation of this unique, stylized treatment.
It's easy to think of Quechua as an Indian dialect; in fact, it is a full-fledged language indigenous to the Andean region of South America, was spoken by the Incas, and subsequently Romanized and alphabetized by the Spaniards. It started out as a strictly oral language (Quechua boasts a rich oral history) and was the official language of the Inca Empire, but by the 17th century the Spaniards had converted the Incas' mnemonic and pictograph system of language into the Roman alphabet and so Quechua can be read and written today, in addition to being spoken.
Although I knew that the porters on our "Inca Trail" trek spoke Spanish, I was aware that they probably spoke Quechua among themselves, and this interested me. Within an hour of arriving in Cusco, I'd found a bookstore with a Quechua-Spanish dictionary. I also picked up a Quechua phrasebook. The first things I looked for were "please" and "thank you". I couldn't seem to find these two expressions, and I thought it was so odd that they were seemingly omitted from the dictionary and phrasebook I'd purchased.
Imagine my fascination to learn that "please" and "thank you" do not really exist in the Quechuan language. In fact, the entire concept of "please" and "thank you" is absent from their lexicon - and yet, the indigenous Quechuan speakers seemed like such soft-spoken, sweet people...how was this absence of a widely acknowledged, simple courtesy possible?
The possibility lies in the fact that dating all the way back to the ancient Inca culture and still embraced by Quechua speakers today, the "attitude of gratitude" is already intrinsic in their culture. Since it is expected that people are to be courteous to each other, to do a favor without obligation - to extend a kindness to one another - there is no need to qualify it with a "please" nor acknowledge it with a "thank you". These notions are already understood in the undertaking of whatever action that, in any other culture, would normally precipitate it.
Don't you just love it?!
At some point during our trek on the Inca Trail, some of us were chewing coca leaves. There was an elderly woman selling bags of the leaves in the town of Chilca which was our point of departure. She included some kind of a black stone in the bags too - it reminded me of the "beetelnut" chewed by the locals in the Papua New Guinea Highlands. When the beetelnut is chewed together with a lime stick, it produces a mild narcotic effect. Back in Peru: I believe the black stones were to be held inside the mouth at the same time that the coca leaves were being chewed, so as to speed up the chemical process. While it is true that cocaine is derived from coca leaves, the leaves in their natural state are non-narcotic. Many locals chew on these leaves, and plenty of people trekking at high altitudes or the Inca Trail also chew the leaves and enjoy the benefits.