Exploring the naval of the earth

Trip Start Dec 29, 2008
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Trip End Mar 22, 2009


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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Today we started with a walking tour of Qosqo (as its known in Quechua, meaning naval of the earth). We saw an artisan market and visited a coca leaf product store. The guy from the coca store sat down to talk to our group for about half an hour. The talk wasn't so much about coca, as about his views on the world. He believes that the 'western model' is screwing up the world. It was quite interesting, but some in the group weren't too happy to be sitting there, getting preached at. The company he works for/founded won some major award from the 'slow food' organisation a few years ago.

From the coca store we wandered closer towards the central square, spotting many Inca walls on the way. One stone is particularly famous as it has 12 angles so people think it is some kind of calendar.

The main square (Plaza de Armas) is known as 'the place where everyone cries' in Quechua, as in 1532 the Spanish captured the Incan leader, brought him to the square and slowly killed him in front of his people. There are 18 churches in the city of Cuzco, many made from destroying important Inca monuments. The spanish did this to try to convert the Inca population to the catholic church. Now about 90% of the residents are catholic, but only because they have been baptised. Only about 20% are practising catholics.

We moved further on to the what used to be the other half of the main square, now a square in itself. It is known as the 'happy square' as it is where all of the celebrations for the town have been held. On one corner of the square is the western entrance to the city, which is a spanish arch made of bricks. Through the arch is the main market. The market is under a tin roof, and it is full of many interesting things including pigs and alpaca heads. According to Bobby our guide (who is from Cuzco), the best part of an animal is the head, especially when its cooked up in a soup.

Once the tour finished, I wandered the tourist shops with Honor and Sonja. 'Jack's', a very popular western cafe was our stop for lunch. The menu was very similar to what you'd find at home, and the cheese burger with fries and salad was delicious and very comforting.

In the evening we had a briefing for the Inca trail and were given rucksacks that we are allowed to pack 6kg in. We headed back down to Paddy's, the Irish bar, for a drink and some yummy nachos, before it was time for bed.
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