The river was too high. That’s what we were told. The trains don’t run to Machu Picchu when the river is too high. In Cusco, it was a perfect day so I decided to make the best of my extra time in the city. First, I decided to make my way to San Pedro market. I had heard this was the place to get cheap everything. And you know I love a good bargain. San Pedro was everything I wanted it to be and much much more.
When I walked into the San Pedro plaza, I noticed all of these stalls selling baby dolls with clothing accessories. Was this a Peruvian souvenir I wasn’t aware of? So I asked. What was the significance of the dolls? Well, the sixth of January is the three kings day. Since the fifth was the Sunday before, everyone brings their baby Jesus doll (dressed with accessories) to church. In all honesty, these dolls are seriously creepy, but I was getting a huge kick watching people cart their Jesus doll around like a real baby. Cusco is 80% church going catholic. Imagine how many baby Jesus’ make it to church.
Then there was the market. Oh. My. God. The market literally has everything. First, there are the textile stalls, then the fruits and veggies stalls, the meat stalls, the flower stalls and finally the food stalls. And when I say this place has everything, it has everything. Whole pigs, cow snouts, medicinal plants – the further you walk into the market, the worse the smell. And all of the locals sit and eat their animal parts soups. What amazed me was that the soup stalls served in real bowls and used real metal cutlery. And when I say animal parts soup, I mean it. Everything was sticking out the soups. Now, I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to food, but even I had to pass this section. The market is loud and full, even on a Sunday at 9:00.
Then there is outside the market. The perimeter is filled with local people selling their farmed goods. Women are selling mushrooms, vegetables and even plucked chickens all on the ground. This is also where people sell their “illegal” medicinal plants. Apparently one such plant makes you super horny and was outlawed by the Catholic Church because the Spanish were eating it and fornicating with the locals. Ha!
I was in need of a new phone charger. My chord decided to die. Technology has been my only bad luck so far, but my tech problems have led to some great adventures and places. This was no different. Right down the street from the market is another market. The first row is only tools, the second suitcases, the third shoes, and the fourth cell phone accessories. I bought two chargers for 3usd! I love Cusco! You can find anything in this city.
I decided to try the walking tour again, only this time I went with the blue company over the orange. It was a really good decision. The blue company starts at the Plaza de Armas. Not only was our guide super good, but you learn so much on these free walking tours. I learned about Inca culture and architecture. I learned about the history of the city and all of the good places to eat. Plus, I met a science teacher from Australia on the walking tour and we ended spending the whole afternoon together, including sharing the most amazing pizza! The tour ended at another market where I shared an amazing sandwich and a fruit smoothie with Deanna.
I think what was the most interesting to me was the Incan architecture used for their temples and palaces. They are perfect – no mortar, and the stones are cut to perfectly align. And this is without specialized tools. Plus, they knew about angles because the walls are perfectly slanted to stand the earthquakes. This is after five hundred years. While the supposedly superior Spanish buildings crumbled like cake during the first large earthquake. It was also incredible how much the Catholic Church destroyed Incan culture and built over Incan structures. They really screwed over these people, yet they are still very very Catholic with a little Incan flair.
Deanna and I went to the coca museum and learned all about that cool plant that has saved me on many treks. Then we went to the convent of Santo Domingo where there is an amazing garden and some really strange Catholic and modern art. We even found a saint Mcdreamy in the choir loft. We had the best time at this place. A great 15 soles well spent. I was actually really glad I had this day in Cusco.
At 9:30pm, I went to bed with the all clear from the company. I was going to Machu Picchu in the morning.