Cusco or Cuzco? Peru

El PeruEnglish: Cusco
Spanish: Cuzco
Quechua: Qusqu or Qosqo

The City All of these spellings refer to the same city, the capital of the ancient Incan Empire. Today, its people still refer to themselves as Incans and are immensely proud of their ancestors. Many believe that the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal. Since then the capital has adopted Christianity, and Jesus (Christo Blanco) looks over the city. Blanco CristoCross over Cusco

Today, the city sees upwards of two million tourists a year since it is the throughput for Machu Picchu, but the city has its own splendor. There are old Incan sites, including “Sexy Women,” but properly known as Saksaywaman. Even the main square, Plaza de Armas, is drenched in history, including Francisco Pizarro’s proclamation of the conquest of Cusco. Stonework

The colors are vibrant and the stonework is incredible. But watch out for the altitude. The city sits at nearly 11,000 feet and altitude sickness is your new favorite travel demon upon landing in Cusco. Chamomile, lemongrass, mint, and coca tea help the headaches, but don’t plan on any vigorous activity upon arrival. This little lady sold me a beautiful wool belt.  She was so tickled that I wanted to take a picture with her that she posed for four! The locals are about 5′ and all wear neat hats. More to come on their garb and the local dying processes.

DSC_0169Below are local masks, but the alpaca sweaters were the most glorious. Painted Masks


More posts to follow about the marketplace, but the photos came out beautifully.