South America Journey Part Four, Cusco

“I thought Guinea Pigs were just pets”?

Putting the exciting Machu Picchu adventure behind us, we boarded the Expedition Peru Rail Train from Machu Picchu to Poroy ( Cusco Peru).Again we totally enjoyed this trip in the upgraded train, with a different view this time, as well as a couple cold Cusqueña Beers. The trip takes about three hours and in my opinion, much more relaxing than hiking the 5 day trail back down.

In Cusco we checked back into our earlier hotel, the Antigua Casona San Blas, one of the best hotels I have stayed in world wide. The hotel staff greeted up with all smiles, informing us they had already transferred out luggage left there while at Machu Picchu, into our suite. I was already looking forward to diner in their luxurious restaurant, with a good steak and bottle of wine.

My wife suggested, and I agreed that after tweaking and bashing our bones and muscles for a couple days, that we should book a spa day in the hotel spa, which we did. I will tell you, that this was a suggestion that we both decided was one of the best spa experiences ever, with the exception maybe of my experiences years ago in Bangkok ? Their Spa Rooms included steam rooms and large jacuzzi tubs which you enjoyed for an hour before your massage. This treatment sent me to another level of bliss.

The Square in center of Cusco.

The next day we had hired Chris again to show us around the city of Cusco, which he had told us there was much to see. As we really only had one day to see the city before leaving for Mendoza, I figured it best to again use a guide. I will say in hindsight, that 2-3 days in Cusco would have been better, but oh well, maybe another time.

Jesus

We started our morning visiting the “White Christ”, a 26 foot tall statue of Jesus Christ on a mountaintop, overlooking the city of Cusco. This to South America is the equivalent to the Rio statue. It was quite spectacular, and can be seen from many places in the city below. I will say that is was a bit disappointing to find a barbed wire fence surrounding it, but as Chris said, being white, inevitably if would have been defaced.

Chris had repeatedly smiled and told us he really wanted to show us the “Sexy Woman”, and this day he did just that. The “Sexy Woman” is actually named “Savsayhuamàn”, however the foreign visitors have difficulty with that, so the guides refer to them as Sexy Woman Ruins. These Inca Ruins consist of some of the largest stones I have ever seen, and they remail since the 15th century, exactly in place. It’s very difficult to imagine how they built these temple walls, with each stone fitting perfectly with surrounding stones. It’s also another mystery how the Inca actuall moved and placed these massive stones where they are. In fact one of the stones is estimated to be over 300 tons.

In 1536 there was a massive and extremely bloody battle between invading Spaniards and the native Cusqueños on this site that left thousands of dead. After the battle the Spaniards used many of the stones for building in the city of Cusco, however the main walls still include original stones.

We then visited the indoor “San Pedro market which proved to be quite the experience. Upon entering we were immediately greeted by freshly butchered animals for sale, open air booths, with pig head’s, hoofs, and everything in between. There were rows and rows of everything from grains, breads, clothes, electronic’s, chocolate, etc. but I think the food was the “show stopper”. There were rows of open booths where you could sit and eat chicken soup, rice dishes and other delicacies. I was surprised not to see any “Guinea Pig on a stick” ?

Next Chris took us to the famous ( in Cusco”, San Pedro Indoor market, which was quite interesting as you will see. This place was full of everything imaginable, boots with grains, livestock “parts”, rows of food booths, like a whole row of places selling chicken soup ! They had major bread stores, chocolate, then fabrics, housewares and much more.

That pretty much was it for a day sightseeing Cusco, and we decided to head back to the hotel for a rest, and then meander into the main square to visit the Cusco Main Square to shop and maybe enjoy dinner. We discussed the walk to the square with hotel staff, and decided to walk the tiny streets to the square, which was pretty much downhill. Along the way we checked out some shops, and it took about half an hour before we arrived.

Fact ! Did you know that the Inca’s discovered how to make “jerky”

The Awesome Restaurant, specializing in Guinea Pig….Yum Yum

We took a Cab back to the hotel, and decided to ask the Front Desk Staff where a good restaurant was within walking distance. As luck would have it, there was a famous one a few doors up the street from the hotel which was a barbecue specialty restaurant. They said it was early, so reservations would not be needed.

We headed up the narrow street and found the restaurant, and immediately got excited ! It was decorated in Peru fashions, lots of wood, but most intriguing was the massive wood fired oven in the center. As it was cooling off a bit, I was happy they seated us at a table right in front of the oven, where the action was happening. You see, people make reservations weeks in advance here, for their famous barbecued guinea pig !

They asked if we had reserved our guinea pigs, and we said no, we would order other barbecue choices from the menu. They sat us at a prime table, directly in front of the oven ( great because it had really cooled off), and we got to watch as racks of the little pigs came our.

Our dinner was fantastic, as I had pork roast and Marsha a steak from this grill. Of course we also enjoyed a super bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

If we return to Cusco, I will definitely satay at the same hotel, and will dine on Guinea Pig here.

Then it was back to pack and get a good night rest before our busy flying day tomorrow.

And so, my next blog will certainly thrill you with our 12 hours of flying time, multiple flights, our Winery Resort outside Mendoza and our wine experience in the most famous Malbec Wine Region in the world.

Till Then,

Gary…. The Pirate

About storiesbygary

I am a Freelance Writer / Photographer, writing travel related articles for international magazines, blogs and websites and my own published books.
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