Wednesday, October 21, 2015


This is Elise.  I had heard so many great things about Cuzco that I was really looking forward to it.  Our first impressions were not good.  The pictures and captions below tell most the story.  What can't be captured in photos is the ever present clouds of black exhaust fumes.  Nearly every vehicle here has a stream of black exhaust flowing out of it.  The trucks and buses just have larger clouds of black exhaust fumes than the cars.  At 11,000 feet the oxygen is thin and the carbon monoxide is high.  I felt sick riding in the taxis getting to the sights.  I don't know if I should feel sorry for the people who have to breathe this stuff all the time or angry that they do nothing to improve their air quality.  I am feeling angry and frustrated at the lack of basic sanitation and waste disposal here.  This is the jewel of Peru's tourist industry. How can this be? 
We were planning on spending 5 days in Cuzco before moving out to the Sacred Valley area for a week when we were alerted to a planned strike, on October 21st and 22nd, that would close the city down completely.  We decided to get out to a smaller, more peaceful, area early to avoid being stuck in the city.  We loaded up on groceries and are staying in a compound of several vacation cottages with beautiful landscaping and views of the mountains.  The protesters will throw rocks at any vehicles they see and might throw rocks at us it we get too close to a demonstration.  All stores and businesses are closed.  Machu Pichu is closed.  Roads are blocked with boulders and tree branches.  I looked up Cusco protests and it looks like they do this fairly frequently.  They are protesting the proposed privatization of national treasures and public lands like Machu Pichu.  I don't blame them, it sounds like a terrible idea to me too.

Some of our first images as we approached Cusco on the main highway. This was quite a surprise for us as we heard so many great things about Cusco and their massive slum wasn't one of them. In the picture above you can see how the neighborhood drops garbage on the street for the trash collectors which is fairly typical in Latin America. Since you can't flush toilet paper here you throw it out with the trash. The dogs tear the trash bags open to find food and occasionally used toilet paper appears, well you get the picture. This is terribly unsanitary for the children in the area.

The main highway into Cusco was in major disrepair, in some spots was under construction while other spots where left in dangerous shape.

An awesome squatting toilet even a place for your feet. The goal here is aim for the hole and hope you don't miss.

The main plaza in Cusco is what we expected, clean and beautiful.

There are loads of visitors here and we felt welcomed by most people.

Historic square with many Inca sites sprinkled throughout the city.

The weather was great and we had a long sightseeing walk around town.

Beautiful building square after square.

Our kids are celebrities over here, the other children all wanted a picture with them.

We have seen a lot of spectacular markets in Latin America, this was not one of them.

The Spanish built buildings right on top of the Inca walls and Inca structures.

I almost captured it, but a moment too late - A man pissing at 1 O'clock in the afternoon right on the sidewalk in the major tourist route (you can see the urine on the sidewalk running down the walkway). Elise was very upset that such activities happen regularly in front of women and children and on major thoroughfares and it seems nobody cares.

The girls were admiring the precision stonework with amazement.

Right near old town is this cool park like setting.

Truly amazing craftsmanship and no mortar required here.

There was a large group gathering so I decided to take a picture of the sharply dressed man as well.

Like a different world walking through the streets of incredible stonework.

One street after another of astounding construction.

The Inca street sanitation system, similar to a gutter, is still in use today.

A very large city with all big city problems.

Simply amazing that this was formed without modern tools.

Little alters adorn the wall of the Serpent

Unimproved road in Cusco.

When the effort is made to keep an area looking charming they do a wonderful job.

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