Cusco 2: not far from the plaza

We decided to switch hotels.

The hostel we spent the night was clean and bright, but the bed was lumpy and there was a bit of noise. Our new hotel is cheaper, quieter, but 3km from the historic centre. 1 Sol and a 10 minute bus never hurt anyone though.

Renee: My review of our first night’s hostel would go something like this: the mattress felt like wire coils wrapped in a blanket, and I  think the pillows were older than my mum. The dodgy curtain covering the skylight, just above the bed, does little to keep light or heat out. There seems to be a very small hourly limit to water; we had to chose between flushing the toilet or washing our hands. The lounge area outside our room was occupied by boisterous Israelis? until the early hours of the morning. When I got up in the morning the same couches were being used by the hostel as a clothes line to dry bedsheets. The included breakfast was an urn of hot water to make your own tea, and carton of cereal; a sign next to the cereal said “milk S/.3”.

Whoever gave Adelaide the moniker “city of churches” must not have seen 17th century Catholicism in action. We visited the main cathedral, which consists of three churches. In the last two weeks I have been to more churches than any other time in my life.

No photos in the church!

No photos in the church!

You have to though, if you are interested in the history. Looking around, it’s not hard to see where the money and power was. While I’m here for the history, the architecture, and the atmosphere, I can’t help but think I’d be getting a very different experience if I had embraced Catholicism before we left Australia.

That said, there’s only so much Cusqueñan school Catholic art I can absorb. It’s interesting to see how the Catholic teachings were adapted to the local region (eating guinnea pig during the last supper is a good example), but yeah.

Kids play fighting in the plaza

Kids play fighting in the plaza

Thankfully, Spanish colonialism is only one chapter in the story of the region. The cathedral itself is built on top of the Incas Temple of the Sun. Most of the buildings near the centre feature Inca stonework.

We visited the Museo Historico Regional, which gave a more complete account of the history of the region, starting with trilobites. I have to admit, the pre-Spanish history is far more interesting to me. The museum spent a lot of time on the fall of the Inca, which is a story that has it all.

I’m also reading The Gringo Trail, because someone, maybe Stu, told me to. Superficially it’s a travel diary, but it quotes and references extensively from Open Veins of Latin America and The Conquest of the Incas, among others, so I’m learning something.

We also took a look at the contemporary art museum; small, but had some good stuff. Then we kind of crashed. Four days of ridiculously early starts finally catching up with us.

A door

A door

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