Monday, June 16, 2014

Lima again and Cusco

Upon my return to Lima, I toured the Oro del Peru and Armas del Mundo museums.  Or in English, the Gold and Armor museums.  Like many places here, no photos were allowed.
This is a private museum run by a foundation.  The museum started as a private collection of Miguel Mujica Gallo.  During his life he collected  pre-Spanish gold, some over 2000 years old and the museum now holds over 8000 pieces.  It also includes real mummies, copper objects, and woven pieces, all from before 1635.  The arms museum has over 20,000 objects from all over the world, as well as different periods.  The collections includes fire arms, side arms, swords, saddles, body armor and even the 'Tizona de Pizarro', a bow sword, incrusted with gold made in 1539 for Don Francisco Pizarro.  It is also said to have a knife which once belonged to Hitler.  An interesting note, once Miguel Gallo died and the collection was being assessed for value, it was found that many pieces were not originals.  It is was thought he had replications made and he sold the originals on the black market for profit.  Those replications, some 5000, have since been removed.

OAT only uses guide who are from the specific region you are visiting.  So I said goodbye to my Amazon River Guide, Edgard, as I boarded the plane for Cusco.  My new guide, who would be from the Andes region around Machu Picchu, would meet us upon arrival.

The day we arrived the town was celebrating the Festival of the Cross.  

Celebrating the Holy Cross, believers process through town carrying a cross.  Picking up highland traditions from where the festival came, it features traditional music and dance all in elaborate dress.

The men are taking a break.  We were told most people rent the costumes as they can cost as much as $1000 if purchased.

Pachacuti Monument.  Pachacuti was the Inca King who ruled when many of the famous Inca ruins of today were built.

Looking down one of the avenues in Cusco.

Another statue of Pachacuti.

The waitress in the restaurant across from our hotel was dressed in native dress.  Some of the older generation who live outside of Cusco in the rural areas still dress in native dress.  If you see it in the Cusco, it is usually for the tourists.

Pacchu Fountain on Avenida el Sol.  

Backside of the fountain, sometimes called the 'Painted Waterfall Fountain'.  Legend has it the puma provided water to the town from its tail.  It was located across the street from my hotel.

The day we arrived our guide took us on a city walking tour towards the main plaza.

Our first stop was at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, a non-profit established in 1996 to aid in the survival of Andean textile traditions.  Demonstrations are provided by weavers and knitters from local nearby communities.  Most of the wool is Alpaca.  Notice these weavers are men.

A close up on one type of knitting.

A woman weaving on a lap loom.

An example of a finished wall hanging.  They sell everything from wall hangings to sweaters, rugs, purses, suitcases, belts and more.

Avenida el Sol.  One of the main streets in downtown Cusco, has many shops and historical buildings as it travels up hill toward the plaza.

Plaza de Armas was the center of Inca Cusco and remains so in modern Cusco.  During Inca times it was known as Huacaypata (Place of Tears or Weeping Square).  In Inca times the Sun Temple was on one side.  When Conquestedor Franscisco Pizarro defeated the Inca Empire, he made the square much smaller by building two churches and now the Sun Temple is a block off the square.  Shops and restaurants surround the other sides of the square.

It started to rain while we were out and before long the streets were flooded.   Most of the group opted to get a taxi back to the hotel.  Several of us stayed and waited out the rain, wandering in and out of the shops while we waited.

Yes, the older ladies are holding baby Alpacas.  They will come up and place the animal in your arms and then want you to take a picture, which, of course, they want you to now pay them for the opportunity to hold the Alpaca.
Many of the avenues surrounding the plaza are like this, barely wide enough for a vehicle.  And this was not a one way street or a pedestrian street.

Cusco is another city of about 500,000.  Although the center of the city is modern, much of the outlying areas are not.  Much of what you see here are the squatters who live on the hills surrounding Cusco.

My next blog will be on the famous sites in and around Cusco.

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