We are in Cusco – 11,200 feet above sea level- the air here is a bit thin. Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca empire from the 13th to the 16th century. When the Spanish conquered the area, they destroyed a good deal of the Incan structures, but there are still Incan walls all around the city. Cusco is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Western hemisphere.
The first picture is of the Church and Convent of Santa Domingo. The church is built on top of the Korikancha which was the most sacred and important building in the entire Inca Empire. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in Cusco, the temple was torn to the ground and its valuable items taken. Even though the church was built on top of the temple, many of the original temple buildings remain.
Leslie found the alpaca she is bringing home. He is in the 2nd picture and small enough to fit in her suitcase. Every Sunday, in the main square of Cusco, there is a huge parade. Different professions take turns parading around the square. There were some very colorful outfits and it was very interesting to watch. For those of you concerned about the 9th picture, those are not real alpacas.
We got to have lunch with a local Cusco family. We had the traditional dish for special occasions – guinea pig. It actually tastes like roasted pork. They also served a chicken dish, so we only ate a small amount of the guinea pig. The family’s oldest daughter is 22 and has just become a lawyer. She speaks English and dined with us. After lunch, the whole family came up and we got to meet them. We each gave them gifts, either from our home town or chocolates. The chocolates were a big hit with the youngest son (he immediately put one in his mouth). We had some free time today to walk around the city, so the other pictures are of whatever caught Don’s eye.