Not much further on was Cusco. We did have some hills to climb so we kept our fingers crossed with respect to the gearshifter. Cusco lies down in a valley. You climb over the rim and descend into the town. Roads are very bad and because we were driving slowly we were overtaken left and right. We managed to find our first choice garage but the owner was not able to help us. A bit further on after negotiating the busy traffic we came to our second choice of garage. Fernaldo the owner was busy and told us to come back the next day at 10:00 hrs. Some 2 km’s further up the road into town we managed to find a quiet plaza where we could stay for the night. Since we had time on our hands Jamaliah wanted to drop into the shopping mall nearby. That still went fine but when we tried to drive to the Volkswagen garage which was on a sandy potholed road along the landing strip the gear played up again and we had to abort the drive and limp back to our sleeping spot. The next morning we got it into the second gear and kept it there all the way to Fernaldo’s Garage. Is garage plot is full of wrecks and cars under repair. Our camper was squeezed in and work started immediately. The night before Rudy had worked out, with help of Roland from the VWstore in Assen, what the problem was and this was confirmed when we got access to the gearshifter on top of the gearbox after removing some cooling hoses (see Passepartout, camper issues to date). It was not clear how long the repair would take so we spent the whole day in and around the camper at the garage. When at closing time the problem still was not solved we spent the night in the camper at the garage. The next day we took the local bus in town while Fernalo and his team further tried to fix the problem which eventually they managed to do.
Cusco was the capital of the Inca empire. Each Inca (King) built his own palace in this city and after his death his family stayed in the palace. Because there had been some 12 Inca’s the valley was full of large palace structures when the Spanish arrived in 1532. After conquering the Inca they started to build their city on top of the palaces. So what you see now is narrow streets with stone walls from the Inca’s with Spanish structures on top of them. Some palaces were taken down and the stones used building churches. There are many old churches. Each religious order built their own church and monastery and tried to outdo the other order. On the central plaza des armes there are for example 2 large churches one of which is the main cathedral.
Before picking up the camper we spent the day walking up and down the narrow streets following a very informative guide from the local “free walking tour” organisation. To get some stress relief and a shower we booked ourselves for the following 3 nights in a small boutique hotel outside the city centre. A Dutch couple (Arie and Marga) which we had met in Benito, Brazil was also staying there.
The next day we hired a private taxi which brought us up to several inca ruins in the hills above Cusco. The first was Tambomachay. This looks like it was a country retreat. There is a small structure which cannels spring water over fountains into a bath.
Thereafter we went across the road to Pukapukara. Either this was a guard post on the road to Cusco or a hunting lodge in the forest.
The third stop was at Q´enqo. A large limestone rock was the center pice with around it what looked like stone benches. Underneathe the rock there is a cace with what looked like altars carved out to the wall.
The final stop was the city defence fort of Sacsaywaman. Here we spent several hours climbing over the zigzag defence walls and looking down into the city of Cusco. The fort however could not be held against the 50 Spanish cavalry and their native axillaries. Thousands of inca´s lost their lifes here but Manco Inca managed to escape to Ollantaytambo and fight again another day. The stone wort on the fort is incredible. The bottom layer consists of enormous rocks cut in such a way that they tightly fitted together. The subsequent 2 layers were built up similarly but with smaller rocks.
Nearby is also a large statue of Christ overlooking the city.
On our last day in Cusco (Sunday) we took the bus into town. An old lady help us to get off the bus in time and she even held us tight when crossing the road. We first visited a church ceremony and then followed the procession which was just starting its way towards the Plaza des Armas.
There we went into the main Cathedral. The outside is sober but inside the large number of dedication altars around the exterior walls are shining from all the gold and silver. The walls are not painted but covered with large painting. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures. I hope to add some pictures downloaded from the internet.
We also visited the Qorikancha/convent of Santa Domingo. The original Inca temple was given to the Dominican order in 1536 who used the site for their monastery. The Inca structures were used in the building of the monastery and covered over with plaster and painted. After the last earthquake in 1950 it was decided to restore the Inca structure as much as possible. Now this museum is a mixture of Inca and Christian structures.