Thursday, July 13 _ Pachacutec, the most important and powerful Incas of the entire Empire who created Machu Picchu. He also reorganized the layout of Cusco, tearing down old buildings, creating new boulevards, and ordering a host of places and temples to be built. All of these were constructed in a new style of stonework that Pachacutec preferred.

Friday, July 14 _ The ancient Qorikancha (Convento de Santo Domingo) in the Pre-Colombian times was the main temple of Cusco, the capital city of the Incas. The Inca Empire (1438-1532) occupied the major part of the modern Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, as well as the north of Chile and the northwest of Argentina (its population exceeded 9 million inhabitants. Quechua (language) means “the four parts of the world”. The Inca Empire was divided into four provinces ( suyus). The most important building of Qoricancha was the temple dedicated to the Sun God (Inti). After the conquest of Peru in 1532, Qoricancha passed in the hands of the Spaniards and its treasures were looted. Juan Pizarro, brother of Francisco Pizarro, decided to donate Qoricancha to the Dominicans (Convento de Santo Domingo). Went to the market to buy tarwi (delicious), virraca, y chuño, and our teacher taught us how to prepare them. The lomo saltado was by far the best meal I’ve had so far here.

Saturday, July 15 _ Machu Picchu, an impressive mystical architectural place. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The view is unforgettable. Really amazing that a culture could build such a magnificent masterpiece in all its splendor and the energy that feels all over the place captivates and fills you. Machu Picchu is shocking and amazing. The photographs taken to this citadel do not do justice when one sees it in person. It was a sublime experience. I’ll never forget it!

Sunday, July 16 _ Valle Sagrado: Pisac, Urubamba (capital Del Valle Sagrado), Ollantaytambo (Estación de tren para Aguascalientes), Chincheros. El Valle Sagrado (The Sacred Valley) is a region in Peru’s Andean highlands. Along with the nearby town of Cusco and the ancient city of Machu Picchu, it formed the heart of the Inca Empire. Stretching roughly 60 kilometers, it’s an area of fertile farmland and Spanish colonial villages like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. If you go to Peru to visit Machu Picchu and only Machu Picchu, you’re missing half the story. Machu Picchu was the main city, hidden between the mountains of the Andes, safe from conquest. But there is so much more than that. Machu Picchu was only found in the beginning of the 20th century, so it was never raided or attacked by the Spanish conquistadores. However, there are several Inca settlements of great importance inside the Sacred Valley that provide a more holistic view of what the Inca civilization was about. How big and magnificent their building campaigns were, how much they respected and communicated with nature. I have finally eaten the “cuy” in the Sacred Valley (Urubamba). It tasted just like rabbit.

Monday, July 17 _ I went to check out the Centro comercial- Mall Real Plaza. Modern shopping mall, with a supermarket. If you are from the US and looking for a taste of home, you can find it there with a food court that includes Papa John’s, Starbuck’s, Burger King, Popeye’s, Dunkin Doughnuts and Chili’s. The mall isn’t huge but you can definitely find brand names and decent prices. I’d recommend a stop if you are looking for shoes, clothing, electronics, purses, luggage or other items not available in the tourist areas of town. I would not recommend if you are looking for souveniers of your trip to Cusco. The taxi charged me 5 soles on the way there, and 4 soles on the way back. Spent a couple of hours going up and down the aisles of the supermarket. Bought some Peruvian products such as maca (desayuno), cereal de habas, hierba Luisa, té durazno, mate, ají, and of course Pisco. Started my second course at school with teacher Marwill (Latin American Literature).

Tuesday, July 18 _ I went to el Mercado San Pedro with no specific agenda and I spent 3 hours strolling up and down the different ales. You have to be mindful of your belongings. The market consists of handmade crafts, fruit and vegetables, poultry, flowers, dairy, cooked food market and nuts and coffee beans/tea etc. It’s very organized as if it’s a supermarket in disguise but without the checkout register. It’s good to mingle with the locals and get up and close to sample the local produce. I found the souvenirs are cheaper the further you walk to the back of the market. Had lunch at the market, and shared a Cusqueña beer with the ladies who were preparing my food.

To be continued…

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