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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day 36 - Cusco

peru Its actually true what everyone says. Night buses are the most HORRENDOUS experience you can imagine. I'm sure we've only just scratched the surface (apparently Bolivia is 10 times worse), but 16 hours to Quito nearly killed me. We spent an hour waiting for it to turn up (I told lies to peruvians because I dont know how to speak spanish well enough to tell the truth), then hopped on, kicking a beautiful and mute indigenous Quecha woman WITH CHILD into the aisle along with 4 other people lying flat on the ground. The seats didn't recline. The bus smelt of dog food. and piss. and rocked back and forth for 16 hours. After 3 hours sleep later and some AMAZING scenery when I awoke at 6am, we stopped for a banana and carried on upwards, to 3,300m, where the city of Cusco sits tidily between three mountains.

Built in the shape of a puma, the animal that symbolises the Inca dynasty, Cusco means 'navel of the earth', and for those Inca dudes it was THE place to be. These days, its loaded with gringos (mainly English), tourist tat shops, drug dealers, pick pockets and impatient taxi drivers. But HOW MUCH am I still taken with this place. I've totally fallen for it. It has a charm unlike anything else. Cobbled streets, tiled roofs, awesome architecture. Its amazing.

We're pretty lucky, because we've coincidentally landed here just days before the Inti Raymi festival. Its the biggest festival in the Cusco calendar, and dates back to the Incas who used to sacrifice babies so that the sun god would dish out plenty of sun for the next year. These days, they use llamas. We spent the first few days aclimatising. Getting drunk with Suzi and Charlotte, wandering the streets, checked out the cathedral (the spanish conquistadores destoryed the Inca temple and rebuilt a cathedral on it) and hung out with loads of people we have met along the way, who have all come to Cusco for the festival.

The main climax of the weekend was a HUGE event at the top of the HUGE hill. After an hour of walking up, we grabbed a seat on a rock and watched the crowds flood in. The site is the same site that the Inca's used, called Sacsayhuaman (which every calls 'sexy woman' just to offend me). Its supposedly the head of the puma that Cusco is designed on, and we were sat on its rocky nose. The place was rammed. Literally thousands of people. And one by one, hundreds of dressed up and dancing Peruvians performed the massive 3 hour worship to the sun god.

Interest peaked when the main characters carted a young llama onto the main stage and ripped open its body, removing its still beating heart and presented it as an offering. I myself was certainly wildly excited by this. However, I reckon we got stitched up. When the dudes carried the llama out, it wasn't struggling. And when they disembowelled it, there was hardly any blood. shockingly little. and the heart was HUGE. Without putting the integrity of modern day Incas at risk, I reckon they faked the whole thing. But it was still pretty special.

(check out the dude holding up the 'real' llama heart)

That night, the town was partying hard. We spent the day buying angel wings, rushing around clothes shops, cos the private party at a gay club was going to be the hottest in town. I donned some eyeliner (for fear of looking like I hadn't made an effort and getting turned away) and some green wings to go with my green t-shrt and green shoes, and 12 of us bombed it across town to the club. And it was unreal. EVERYONE was gamourous, made up, wearing wings. It was like something from 80s new york and it was amazing. Photos coming soon, but i got WASTED. Home at 6am after far too much of the stuff that kept the Inca's trekking up those mountains, and slept off a horrendous hangover the next day. It was awesome. Possibly one of the best parties I've been to in a long time, although obviously missing the guys at home to make it even better.

And now, at 2am, I've just finished packing for a 4 day trek up to Machu Picchu. This time, me and 5 other english kids are bombing up the nearby mountain, mountain biking down, visiting some new ruins that were only discovered this year, then taking an alternative route to the top. Expect some awesome photos of what is my favourite place on earth, coming soon...

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Anonymous Trixie said...

I can't believe you kicked a pregnant woman. What would Jesus say? Tssk.

12:12 am  

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