May 3, 2018 – Cusco to Puno, Peru
It was a long bus ride today. It was through the Sacred Valley which we learned last night at the Planetarium was formed by the Milky Way when it touched down to earth and formed the Urubamba River. Much of the landscape looked like eastern Colorado or any of the Plains States.
We stopped at the Cusco City gates which were some 50 miles or so from the current city of Cusco. We were able to walk on the actual Inca Trail at that point. In fact, part of the highway runs along the Inca Trail in this area. The Gate of the Sun (Portado de Rumiqolqa) was at the border of Cusco. There are 2 gates located here. One was for coming into the city. The other was for going out. This controlled the flow of traffic and allowed the Incas to monitor all who entered or departed. There was a tax on anyone who used the gate except the military. The tax was used to maintain the road system. There are 2 kinds of construction of basalt stones with large megalithic stones in front and smaller field stones on top and behind. The megalithic construction probably predates the Incas.
We went through a town where Cheo told us that 70% of the inhabitants were smugglers. They smuggle everything from soup to nuts from Bolivia, Brazil and other countries. It was a traffic nightmare, and we were glad to be out of it and on our way to Puno. We stopped at a truck stop for lunch at 3 p.m. If there is one complaint that I have about this trip, it is that we eat breakfast early – anywhere from 5:30-6:30 and then don’t eat lunch until 3 or 4 p.m. The food was good at the truck stop. I had an alpaca burger for lunch. I bought a couple of sweaters there which probably aren’t really alpaca, but I liked them anyway and for $20 each, I couldn’t beat the price.
We stopped in Andahuaylillas, a small town, whose church, San Pedro Apostol, has been compared to the Sistine Chapel. There was a mass going on for the school children so we weren’t able to see all of it, but it was quite ornate.
We stopped at the highest point we will be at on the trip. It is 4,335 meters which is 14,222’ feet.
We were stopped twice on the road. Both times, the police wanted to see the list of people who were on board as well as insurance info and the driver’s license. Evidently this is something which is quite routine.
Susan and I began to count tractors and pick-ups. We saw 4 tractors and about 10 pick-ups. This area is really the 1st we’ve been through which had large enough fields that tractors would be of use. The small fields of an acre or so were better cultivated by hand. As for pick-ups when we saw something other than semis, the vehicles were usually cars so that’s why we started counting pick-ups. This worked until we got into a pretty good sized town where we lost count.
We arrived at 5:00 p.m. at the hotel and, after getting checked in, decided to go for a walk at 6. We saw the Quecha Catholic Church which is beautiful. It melds the Quecha religion with the Catholic religion. I’ve seen many churches, but this is one of the most beautiful because of its simplicity.
We had supper in a small café which Cheo knew of. It was really good yet again. I had a ham, bacon, alpaca and onion pizza with, what else, a pisco sour.
We got back to the hotel about 8, and I’m going to make an early night of it.
Some things I’ve been wondering about such as where do the homes scattered around this vast valley or those in the hills around the Potato Park we visited earlier get their water. I’ve seen people washing clothes in the river or at a town spring. So, if you are not near a river or spring where do you get your water? It turns out that they pipe water from the glacier fed rivers to homes. Each home has a well house which feeds water to the house for washing dishes, washing clothes and for bathroom purposes.
Perched on a central square in the Andean village of Andahuaylillas, Peru, the whitewashed Baroque church of San Pedro Apóstol seems unremarkable at first. But inside is an eye-popping kaleidoscope—a dazzling display of colorful murals, a coffered painted ceiling and an ornate gold-leaf altar—earning it the moniker of “The Sistine Chapel of the Andes.” The Spanish began constructing the Baroque church in the late 16th century, as they cemented their conquest over the Inca Empire.
San Pedro has been under restoration since 2009, but its doors have stayed open. Locals trained at the fine arts school in Cuzco are cleaning the walls, conserving the paintings and strengthening the facade and roof. The roof of one of the side chapels had collapsed from water damage, destroying sections of the murals. The conservators have painted over the damaged portions in blue, so the remaining figures of angels and Christ peek out as if through a smudged window. The restoration is being funded by the World Monuments Fund and the Spanish petroleum company Repsol.