I walk along the backstreets of Cusco, and I find half-finished houses that are being occupied by full families, culture that isn’t for sale, and people who are nice to me because I am another person and not because they hope I will give them money. My housemate and I hike up nearby mountains that loom over our neighborhood, itching for adventure and the peace that can only be found on a mountaintop. We play in Incan ruins and take naps in a hammock overlooking suburban Cusco. We buy water in jugs bigger than our torsos and sleep way more than we’re used to because being two miles up in the air isn’t a joke, after all.
Posts from the ‘Cusco’ Category
Peru has a wealth of history, giving it many “must-see” sights for tourism, the most obvious being Machu Picchu and the other Incan ruins in the area (including: Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo, Moray and so many more). From our ventures with ISA, I now know that Huayna Picchu is a must-see of the Machu Picchu ruins. There are those who may think that some of the ruins are overrated and may feel that it is unnecessary to see them all, but for me, it is well worth it to visit each and every one. Another must see of Peru, though not in Cusco, is Lake Titicaca in Puno. I was personally able to stay there for a weekend, and every moment was well worth it. Read more
Whether we knew it or not, us ISA students picked the right time to visit Cusco! June– it’s the most festive time of the year for local Cusqueneans. Streets are seemingly always closed for some sort of dance, religious procession or special celebration unique to Cusco. Our teachers have been trying to explain to us the significance of these celebrations and we’ve soaked in some of this information.
We’ve also been lucky to be here in Cusco, or more generally Peru, because we’ve gotten to watch the Peru Men’s National Soccer Team play two World Cup qualifying games on television amongst locals. Each time we gathered at the Plaza de Armas and picked out a bar to watch the game. Read more
After three nights exploring Lima with the rest of the ISA group and getting to know one another it was finally time for us to board our plane to our final destination for the summer: Cusco. As we began our descent into the Andes (literally), the sounds of oohs and ahhs filled the cabin of the plane, some of which came from my mouth. But my “oohs and ahhs” were of a different nature. While I took a moment to admire the view of Cusco from above like the rest of my peers, I sat hunched over in my seat from the stomach pain I was experiencing. Not even a week here and I became Peru’s first victim– the first student on the trip to get sick. When I was told I had salmonella and a parasite, I couldn’t believe it. Read more
The old saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ couldn’t be more true. It seems like just yesterday our plane was landing in Cusco. And from there it has been go, go, go! I have been able to surpass the effects of altitude sickness and have yet to succumb to the woes of stomach pains (knock on wood). Read more
They say that the grass is always greener on the other side, but almost any Cuscenean would strongly disagree with this statement, especially if they are talking about Arequipa, a city about 7 hours south of Cusco. I secretly suspect that my host mother offered to accompany me to Arequipa just to show the opposite — the grass can never be greener than it is in Cusco.
Before you study abroad, you can talk about cultural differences. You can read up on the symptoms and consequences of culture shock. You can try to be emotionally prepared, but there is no way to avoid experiencing the startling disparities between the way of life you are accustomed to and your new surroundings while studying abroad.
If you ever become so lucky as to visit the “Belly Button of the World,” that’s what the Quechua name of Cusco translates into, you are guaranteed to be constantly surrounded by the magical beauty of this ancient place. Although the wonders await you on every corner of its old streets, make sure to pay homage and fully enjoy the most important pieces of Cusco that make it the unforgettable and unique place.
On this day we hiked down the Colca Canyon in the morning which took us about 3 hours to get to the basin where an oasis-like place lingered. I knew the hike back up was going to be difficult. The path had an elevated, zig-zag, loose soil, rocky texture. I left the oasis around 4:15pm when there was still sunlight. As I looked up at the canyon that I was about to climb I could see that the shadow made by sunset was beginning to rise and eat up the canyon. My marvelous plan: Walk up that canyon at a pace where I was always at the border between sunlight and shadow. This way the sun would illuminate my path upward but I had the shadow to keep me cool at times. The climate in the Andes highlands is made of dry air that blankets brown mountains, pastel trees and plants all spotted in everlasting rocks. It is not the tropical rainforest with coconut trees you find on cellphone wallpapers. It is land where the apus (mountains) demand their presence known and are not apologetic about it. They don’t make hikes easy. They may have never been made for go-hard hikers. They stand in dry weather and wear endless rocks: big, small, loose, bulky, dusty, wet. Even though you can’t miss them in sight, they are quiet. The hike I was about to take up a canyon of 13,650 ft (4,160 m) deep (twice the height of the US Grand Canyon) was not going to be an adventurous walk with lots of adrenaline rush. It was just gonna suck. I was the last one to head out in the group, I had a big backpack and at least one liter of water on me. My biggest fear was getting stuck at night alone with just a small flashlight and empty quiet canyons surrounding my every direction.