In May I travelled to Peru… exploring the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu had always been on my bucket list!
After spending a night in Lima I arrived in Cusco well rested. At the airport I was approached by a youngster who wanted to sell me his mother’s wool. He was about 7 years old, quite entrepreneurial and very persistent. He proudly called himself ‘King Kong’ after the only movie that was playing in the only movie theater in town.
At about 11,400 feet above sea level, Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1983 and its legacy dates back to the 15th century. It is attributed to the Inca Pachacútec, who built the citys’ most remarkable constructions.
At first the altitude in Cusco really knocked me out, so I took the advice of the local people and drank lots of Mate Coco (cocaine leaf tea). Actually it tasted quite good and definitely helped get my energy back in no time at all.
I dropped off my bags and decided to explore this historic town. As I walked out of the hotel my little shadow King-Kong was waiting for me. In Cusco I heard only Spanish and Quetchuan, but King-Kong could speak a little English and proceeded to show me around his town. He took me to a Bureau du Change and showed me where to get a great meal. I had a delicious fillet (of what – I wasn’t sure) and the best Lemon Meringue I ever tasted.
The next day I took the train to Machu Picchu. This incredible citadel certainly lived up to its legend, and I was amazed at the architecture and stone mason skills of the Incas!
Machu Picchu is recognized as a Cultural and Natural Patrimony of the World, and is a sacred city or sanctuary because only the Inca and his noblemen, priests, priestesses and chosen women (Akllas) had free access to its premises.
After a day of learning and exploring, I overnighted at the Sanctuary Lodge right at the summit of the citadel – which I highly recommend. At the end of the day the crowds made their way back down into Aguas Caliente to catch the afternoon train back to Cusco, and I had a chance to inhale the atmosphere of this wondrous place in solitude! The next morning I climbed Waynu Picchu to watch the sunrise in peace, and felt so privileged to have been here.
Later I visited the market at Pisac – about an hours’ drive from Cusco and guess who I ran into again … little King-Kong, still selling his mother’s wool!
When I returned to Lima I stayed in Miraflores – a lovely suburb at the coast, which is much less crowded than downtown Lima. The Gold Museum in Lima is definitely worth a visit, as well as the old colonial City Center.
I thoroughly enjoyed Peru – it has much to offer. Trek on over to find your own Peru!