Cusco

The One Course You Need to Take in Cusco

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Joshua Barnhart is a student at Castleton University and an ISA Featured Blogger. He is currently studying abroad with ISA in Cusco, Peru.

his is a panorama shot of the qeswachaka bridge and the river underneath. The water is too shallow to jump into. I asked.

This is a panorama shot of the qeswachaka bridge and the river underneath. The water is too shallow to jump into. I asked.

Most people that come to Cusco are interested in the Inca civilization, or at least in mystic tourism. If you’ve got a taste for history, this is the course for you: History of the Inca Civilization. You can tell because the name says “history” in it.

View from the steps above Tipon.

View from the steps above Tipon.

One of the more interesting aspects of the course is the fact that the first half is dedicated to pre-Inca civilizations: their characteristics and what each of these civilizations contributed to the foundation of the Inca Empire. When you come to Peru–and Cusco in particular–you’re likely to hear about the Incas constantly: their food, their architecture, and their achievements in general. This is all intriguing to be sure, but understanding from where the Incas learned/adopted some of these things makes the entire story much more rich.

The mountains and surrounding area from the ancient site of HuchyQosqo

The mountains and surrounding area from the ancient site of HuchyQosqo

Another reason you should consider taking the course are because of the professor and the structure of the class itself. Alberto Chara is a very friendly and knowledgeable professor. He spent time in the United States, so you’ll often catch him calling things “A1″ or using “mint” to describe the condition of anything from well preserved tombs to ancient artifacts. There are a lot of opportunities to present information to your classmates and even a to act in a theatrical representation of Inca myths. You’ll also have the chance to win some free ice cream from the best heladeria in Cusco, Qucharitas, of which he is the owner.

A shot of a small waterfall on the path down to HuchuyQosqo. Bring your best shoes; it's a long walk to the bottom.

A shot of a small waterfall on the path down to HuchuyQosqo. Bring your best shoes; it’s a long walk to the bottom.

Lastly (and most importantly), there are field trips to archaeological sites. You’ll be able to tag along on field trips for other classes he may teach, which will maximize opportunities to see some beautiful sites, and check off a few locations on your tourist ticket. You’ll have to pay a small sum of money (10-20 soles max), but this is well worth it and likely cheaper than what you would pay otherwise. The best memories you’ll make here will be the places you go and the things you do there with your friends. If you don’t decide to take History of the Inca Civilization, at least cozy up to someone who is so you can invite yourself on the trips.

The slides at Sacsayhuamon. Yes, slides. Like little kids, playground, slides. There's no height limit. Have fun.

The slides at Sacsayhuamon. Yes, slides. Like little kids, playground, slides. There’s no height limit. Have fun.

The world awaits…discover it.

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