Cuzco

19 01 2009
Cuzqueña and her alpaca

Cuzqueña and her alpaca

We are staying in the neighborhood of San Blas, an artist community on the hill above the main square in Cuzco. The streets are very narrow, and the buildings are built incorporating Inca stone work, mostly as foundations and sometimes as doorways. In San Blas, there are many artisan shops, where you can see people weaving the clothing in the back rooms. We are staying next to the main plaza in San Blas, which has a weekend craft market in the plaza next to the church, with indigenous and artisan crafts for sale.

We can get a decent cheap room for about $13 and a set menu lunch for about $4-5, which includes soup, tea and a main course (usually well seasoned meat with rice or a small pizza).

Colonial buildings on main square

Colonial buildings on main square

The Spanish conquest resulted in the removal the old Inca buildings but utilized the Inca stone foundations for new churches and colonial buildings. During the time of the Inca, the main square was surrounded by Inca palaces. You can see the foundations with the famous Inca stonework, especially on the backs and sides of the buildings on the main plaza. But their facades on the main plaza all have colonial architectural styles.

Custom fitted stonework

Custom fitted stonework

The famous Inca stonework has two main types, the more complex polygonal shapes where each stone is custom fitted to others around it, and more regular rectangular shapes. The polygonal shapes were considered more structurally sound, and were often used for terraces or retaining walls, while the straight rectangular style was considered more appealing and thus used for the very important ceremonial and royal buildings.

The Inca built a new palace for each ruler, since the body of the old (and dead) ruler was kept and ‘fed’ in his old palace. The result was that the main square was quickly filled with palaces of the living (and dead) Inca rulers. During important ceremonies, both the living and the dead rulers where honored in front of their respective palaces.


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11 responses

19 01 2009
Mike Burke

Very interesting. I wonder how the Incas moved all those big rocks? What language is spoken there, Spanish or some native Indian?

19 01 2009
alicia

Very cool! I can’t believe you can get a room for $13, wish we could do that around here!🙂 What is the currency there? Love my world history lessons from you guys!:-)

19 01 2009
Grandad

We are enjoying your exciting trip and are with you every minute, in spirit. Love, Grammy and Grandad

19 01 2009
Judy

While I know this is an obvious question (that no one else will ask…how do you feed an old, dead ruler??? Your blog is great, I am enjoying your info and updates! Alexa, is your sweater just like Jason’s? Love the locals colorful apparel. Love,
Judy

21 01 2009
Jason and Alexa

They brought to food and chicha out as offerings to the mummies, and some say they burn it so the dead could eat it, and others say the attendants ate it for them. In general, there seems to be fair amount of agreement that the attendants were freeloaders who ´spoke´for the dead Inca, often requesting more food, chicha and virgins.

The indigenous language around Cuzco is Quechua, and around Puno it was Aymara. It´s wild to watch a traditionally dressed woman with the bowler hat, colorful shawl (maybe an alpaca in tow), and thick skirt whip out her cell phone and start chatting away in Quechua.

The currency here is called the Nuevo Sole (Soles), and they exchange is about 1 US$ to 3 n. Soles. Right now we´re in the Sacred Valley on our way to Macchu Picchu. The internet is slow and expensive, so we´ll have lots of photos and post for when we get back to Cuzco.

22 01 2009
Tom the Redhunter

Do either of you know Spanish or are you just winging it? I’ve never known any of the languages of the countries I’ve been to (except Ireland, and sometimes there I wondered😉 but it was never a problem.

It was never much of a problem, either because we went to countries like Greece or Israel where English is the second language, or we went mostly to tourist places where most of them know English. When the natives didn’t know English we got good at pointing and impromptu sign language!

What have your experiences been with language?

22 01 2009
Jason and Alexa

Jason speaks Spanish pretty well, and Alexa took some lessons. We do pretty well in Latin America, but as we progress we will have less language skills to rely on. Then we´ll really more on pointing and smiling.

It´s nice to know Spanish, that way we can tell when taxi drivers or others are trying to scam us.

23 01 2009
alicia

What’s your next stop? That’s so funny about the cell phone, I guess they really are everywhere huh! Are you still staying in a hostel out there or is it a little more remote? Take it all in, can you believe it’s almost February already! Happy almost 6 month anniversary🙂

23 01 2009
alicia

oops it was already your 6 month anniversary! Hope you ate a yummy dinner that night🙂

3 02 2009
Tom the Redhunter

“It´s nice to know Spanish, that way we can tell when taxi drivers or others are trying to scam us.’

Yup, we were scammed once in Greece. We’d just gotten off the airplane, after a flight of who knows how many hours. Our heads weren’t on straight and we found out later we’d paid too much. Oh well, live and learn.

5 02 2009
Grandad

Have been loving your pictures and comments. We have been enjoying great fruit from Chile , especially blueberries so hope you are enjoying them , too. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Have fun!

Grandad and Grammy

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