Today was a full day exploring Cusco. It is a much more interesting city than I expected with a population of about 300,000 people and growing rapidly. Pepe said that people are coming down from the mountains and squating on land that is public property. Over time they build a new community and eventually get public services.
We started at 8 am with a walking tour on Ave. del Sol where our hotel is located. A few blocks up the street is Iglesia Santo Domingo. It was once El Templo del Qoricancha - the Temple of the Sun.
From there we walked to The Plaza de Armas.
On our walk, we encountered people selling items on the street and people posing for photos. This young girl has worked hard to make her outfit photo worthy, and you gotta love the skinny jeans underneath the skirt and the tiny lamb in her arms.
Before entering the cathedral, we saw these men dressed in costumes celebrating another tradition which I didn't fully understand, but I thought they made the photos of the Cathedral and the fountain in the Plaza far more interesting.
From there we had free time in the afternoon, and I didn't want to waist a minute. At first I walked around, just observing life in Cusco. These girls also must make a living posing for photos.
Then I headed to the Machu Picchu Museum which is relatively new. In 2007 the Peruvian government struck a deal with Yale University to have many of the artifacts removed by Hiram Bingham returned to Peru. This museum houses what has been sent so far. Although it is well arranged with wonderful descriptions in English, I thought the collection was sparse. It had some pottery, some simple bronze tools and photos of Bingham's expeditions. There was one piece of fabric woven from vicuña - I don't know how it survived - but I loved the Inkan designs.
From there I headed down Hatinrumiyoc Street where I spotted the famous 12-angle stone. (Count them)
I made my way up a street with very, very narrow sidewalks (you had to suck in your breath if a truck came down the street). I found this child navigating the street as precariously as I.
Still with some time, I went to Centro de Textiles where I could observe demonstrations of traditional weaving and knitting and see a museum. For me it was very interesting. I spent considerable time watching a woman working with a blackstrap loom and was fascinated.
I ended my tour with a run through the artisans market which is across the street from our hotel. I must go back!
Tonight I went to Centro Oosqo de Arte Nativo where I enjoyed traditional music and dance performed in authentic dress from various regions.
Another packed day!