At 3400m above sea level, Cusco is a vibrant and charming city rich in culture, history, and ancient architecture. Upon arrival you’ll sip a warm cup of mate de coca that tastes strangely similar to green tea. The alkaloids of the coca leaves will help alleviate any altitude sickness you feel. You’ll walk around the narrow cobblestone streets and marvel at the many interesting cathedrals and all of the Inca architecture showing off meticulously cut rock and red terracotta rooftops. You’ll snap a picture of a llama lounging in the grass, only to be chased down seconds later by a Peruvian woman in an elaborately woven red patterned dress and hat declaring, “dinero, dinero.” You’ll hand her a few sols and continue on your way. You’ll wander by a street market lined with row upon row of brightly colored hand-woven wool clothes and will get coerced into buying something, but not after bargaining down the price by repeating “muy caro” thirty times… Nonetheless, you’ll notice that even though they push sales, the Peruvian people are some of the warmest and friendliest that you’ve met on the road, always happy to help give you directions or recommend places to go. You’ll eat way too much chicken and potato, and you may even be brave enough to try roast guinea pig (“cuy”) from one of the street vendors. You’ll wash this down with a silky pisco sour, the national drink of Peru, and realize you’re guzzling down the sweet & sour blend of sugar, lime, eggwhite, and alcohol all too quickly. After a few of these, you’ll head out on the town and get swept along the buzzing streets into nightclubs complete with thumping music and flashing lights, the modern interiors in complete contrast with the ancient exteriors. You’ll stay out late, but won’t worry too much since you know you can count on a cup of coca tea to wake you up in the morning… Cusco may not be a 5-star luxury vacation, but it is quite easy to fall in love with this magical little city in the sky.
Have you been to Cusco? What did you think?
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌