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Irene's Adventures

Peru - Cuzco - again

PERU | Friday, 24 May 2013 | Views [403]

CUZCO  - AGAIN

 

We had a free day in Cuzco, to recover from the trek. We were taken to an alpaca shop, where they showed us how to tell the difference between real alpaca products and fake or blended alpaca products.  Real alpaca is cool to the touch, almost a wet feeling, and never warms up even after holding it for a few minutes.  They gave us a lovely little fashion show, when turned us loose in the shop.  I was very interested in buying a shawl one model wore, but not for $200 US!  The sales staff hovered over us, with one fellow from our group commenting how he might be interested in some gloves, and before he knew it there were at least 10 pairs of gloves being thrust upon him.  Most of us eased our way out of the shop, feeling somewhat harassed.

The guard at the door of the shop was trying to not be conspicuous as he would pull out a small disposable razor and every now and then give his face a sweep with the razor.  Then he would pocket it while rubbing a hand over his face.  Then repeat the process.  We waited for about 10 minutes on the sidewalk for the few still inside; the guard still had much of his face to complete shaving.

Then we were taken to a jewelry shop, where they ground their own precious stones, melted their own silver and gold and made their own jewelry.  It was all very interesting how they even stretch their own silver wire to various thicknesses for various items.  We were again turned loose to shop.  They gave us a little basket and told us to put whatever we wanted in the basket, as all items were sold by weight.  That didn't sound right to me, as items supposedly contained various precious stones and precious stones vary in price.  However, I was sort of interested in a pair of black onyx cuff links for my husband.  They wanted $72 US.  I thought it was a bit high considering the average cost of things in Peru, so decided not to buy them. 

There was a cute set of mini silver salt and pepper shakers that were positioned on a little silver llama, as a llama would carry proportionate packs.  One fellow asked how much.  $500 US!!  Yikes, and no thank you.  After we left, one lady commented that she noticed a small hole on the bottom of one of the mini sculptures.  The sculpture was filled with lead and merely covered in silver.  No wonder they sold by weight.  It threw the whole shop into question.

This pretty much made up my mind to leave the group tour of shops and venture out on my own.  Everything I had read in guide books and the internet research told me that to do Cuzco any justice, it would take at least 5 days.  I had one day.  I made my list of top three things and headed out.

The first place I went was to the Inka Museum.  I was fortunate that the ticket taker also spoke very good English and offered to be my guide.  Unfortunately, they did not allow photos because there was some really interesting and educational stuff. The museum takes you through pre-Inka, to Inka, to the Spanish Conquest. There were lots of Spanish artwork and even the Admiral's actual office was on display.

There are numerous artifacts from all periods - pottery, textiles, figurines.  One of the most memorable was the display of skeletons that were found high in the Andes.  Gruesome, but interesting.  The other memorable item was some elongated skulls, very alien looking.  The guide said that the royalty would bind their babies heads to elongate them to distinguish them as royalty, much like the Japanese used to bind girls feet.  Who knows.... That still doesn't explain the Nazca Lines in the desert of southern Peru..... Which will be on my next trip.

The skeleton pictures were pulled off the internet, as no photos were allowed.

 

no photos please  Inka skeleton   elongated skulls

Even though I had spent a lot more time than I had expected at the Inka Museum, but I was wanting to see other things so I hurried through, wishing now I hadn't.

I went back to the Temple of the Sun and had a better look around.  I really should have gotten the guided tour, as there was an awful lot that I simply did not understand. I already mentioned most of what I saw in the Temple already.  There was a second level to the museum that housed a modern display of art.  This has nothing to do with anything, but I thought it was very clever and artistic.  In case you can't figure it out, it is an old teapot they are in.

 

art

 

I had a much better look at the gardens.  I love flowers.

flowers  flowers  flowers  flowers

 

I also went to see the inside of the Cathedral de Santo Domingo, particularly the painting of the Last Supper that shows a guinea pig on the plate instead of a fish.

 

Last Supper

 

Although there were no photos allowed, I snuck a few in of the opulent wood carvings and silver alter items.

 

 wood carvings   silver alter

The Cathedral was very beautiful but I was beginning to grow weary, so did not take the guided tour; again, I regret it.  Even with the grandeur, I was beginning to feel a bit depressed with all the Christian Martyrs looking so tormented.  Why do Catholic Churches always show the torment?  Why not the benevolent loving aspect of God's mercy and grace?  Alas, and they wonder why attendance is dropping.

I opted to eat alone tonight, so I went to a local grocery store and bought a cucumber, avocado, tomato and some bread.  The ladies at the guest house graciously allowed me to use the kitchen facilities. This wonderful salad cost me $2, in comparison to the $15-20 I was spending at the restaurants.  Granted, we were eating in the better restaurants, but it was still restaurants which had a deal with Intrepid Tours, so I wonder as to the up charge that came with that association.  Some of the tour began seeking out their own eating accommodations and all reported back that the meals were much cheaper elsewhere.  I was also getting tired of meat with potatoes and rice and potatoes on the side.  I wanted a salad!

 

Off to Puno in the morning...

 

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