Puno to Cusco

Our guide to the Uros Islands, explaining the building techniques.

A pet hawk ensures good luck on the island

Dave climbs a lookout tower made of reeds.

Everything is made of the reeds, even a ground meal for reed cakes.

A functioning boat made from reeds.

Desiccated humans always make for an interesting museum piece.

The walls in modern-day Cusco are made from reappropriated Incan stonework.

The blood-mud-red river runs by the hot springs in Cconoq.

Cusco, Cconoq, and a Job?
Wow, what a great city Cusco, Peru is. Lovely giant plaza area with all kinds of Incan stonework lining the streets and providing the first stories for many a building. It's kind of nice hanging in a touristy area for a while, the food comes in amazing varieties and everyone competes to give us more for less... free drinks in all bars throughout town. It is said of Cusco that if you put a roof over the city, it would be the biggest disco in the world. We keep meaning to go out at night and aprovechar the free drinks, but it keeps raining at night, after beautiful sunny days. We even went so far as to locate all the local gay bars and seek them out during the day to know where they are for when we actually want to go out. But with the rain, the being tired, and the other things to do and see, we just haven't gotten around to it. Dave has mixed feelings whenever he thinks of going out, and I don't mind either way. We can be rather indecisive. I think. Maybe.

After our first full day here in the Pisac market, we went to the large artesian market here in Cusco next to the train station. I finally replaced my stolen backpack with a big orange and purple-green woven sack that I carry with tourist pride. And another quena for a certain special someone, and Maia, you have a new member of your family. It is made out of baby alpaca, and is soooo cute. Something-Head, you'll see! Nicola, I am not sure if you are going to absolutely love, or just mildly appreciate the serpentine beads I found with your name on them, but they are looking forward to meeting you anyway. I can't seem to leave anyone out, so I keep picking up these really nifty thing-things that can only be found here... I may need to send a box home. So far everything seems to fit in my big backpack, though. I even got a little watercolour painting, among, well, other STUFF. But when else am I going to be in Cusco again? Well, maybe soon, actually.

We purchased the boleto turístico to enter the ruins sites around Cusco, as well as museums and monuments. There are incredible walls with enormous stones that use exactly no mortar and have been standing for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years, even with modern buildings built and remodeled on top of them, and generations of young'uns molesting them terrestrially. They do smell kinda funny, come to sssthink of it. :) The cathedral is not alone on the big plaza, but is accompanied by another similar church of similar size and same architectural design, La Compañia. But all the Incan stonework is not lost in the proliferation of churches throughout Cusco, but rather stands out in its simplistic and elegant incorporation. If only all the little businesses could capitulate so gracefully in their own incorporation... then corporate take-over would be something beautiful.

We have yet to see Saqsayhuamán (pronounced "sexy woman") and the surrounding ruins, but maybe when we return from Machu Picchu (and are completely ruined-out). Instead, yesterday, we went to Cconoq. Because of the rain and the tiredness, and what-all, we stayed in and talked to the night attendant at the hostel we are staying at, and in the three nights we have been chatting with him until late, we got to know him pretty well. He gave us directions to the hot springs in Cconoq, about two hours away up into the mountains and then down into the river valley. We got dropped off on the side of the road where we were told by our friend, and walked down a camino de herradura (small footpath with switchbacks) down to the chasmatic fantabulousness which was the blood-mud-red river raging through the carved valley.

There we found the spring-fed pools with constantly changing luke-warm water and pebble bottoms. We spent hours soaking in the love, to the point where our feet and hands were pruned on the backs! I was looking through the pebbles and found an amazing little piece of jewelry that we actually thought might have been Incan, until we found the “950” stamped on the back. After our megasoak, we headed up the road built for cars, about a 40-minute hike, booking it up the hill. We made it to the top where it connected to the major paved road, Dave in tow, and I convinced him to continue walking just a little ways more down the road to buy mangoes and cañazo, a liquor made from sugar cane (I think it smells like olive oil, bleh) but it was only $1 per litre, so we got a sol's worth. I am not a fan.

Well, after our adventures yesterday, we are now heading up to Ollantaytambo to catch the train up to Machu Picchu Pueblo. (The cheapest option for catching the train: you know, instead of paying 110 dollars from Cusco to MPP, we are paying 23 from Ollantaytambo AND get to know the little towns along the way). The only way to get to MPP is to go by train, btw. Oh, and Dave and I are looking into jobs here leading tour groups with a company out of Cusco. We hear from the owner of a gay-friendly restaurant that it is good money, and there is a really long story about how her dying son bought the restaurant in Cusco, broke up with his girl, and got heart surgery all in the same day. He survived and is now also a tour guide. We might just consider it... okay, cheers for now. Molly