Haphazard Travels, Tribulations, and Triumphs
Well, yesterday was a drag. Picture what was supposed to be a 6 hour bus ride from Puno to Cusco actually taking 8 hours. And it was hot! Then I get to Cusco, hungry, smelly, and sore and wait... it's Sunday! Nothings open! Except for my hostal, thank god. Which is perfect, by the way. Clean, two courtyards, cheap, hard mattresses and pillows (YES!) and joy of all joys, real hot water! So hot it hurts! Very much appreciated, let me tell you. I had a simple, but very very good dinner and walked around Cusco. The amount of tourists here is amazing. At least 10% in the streets and higher directlybeside tourist sights. The city really is gorgeous with a great character. The only problem is the narrow streets combuined with many dirty cars makes for brutal air quality. I am begininng to understand why they don't bother with windows and have courtyards instead. So this morning I got up nice and late and wandered down to the LAN offices to buy my flight from Cuzco to Lima for the tenth, which I was successful in doing. That's a weight off my shoulders. The alternative would have been a 24 hour bus ride. Then I went to the supermarket to get more granola bars and water. While there, I felt like I knew the music that was playing. Whioch was weird, because it was Spanish and had flutes and pipes. But no, it was The Best of... get this... Bryan Adams. In Spanish. With Flutes. And still, it managed to maintain the cheese-quota! (Mind you, so did the Spanish version of Under Seige we watched on the bus yesterday). After that, it was off to purchase my Boleto Tursitico, a pass of soirts that lets you get into all sorts of sites in the area. The first place I went was the Museo Municipal De Arte Contemparano which was really neat. Everything wa sfor sale and the artists were right there. The first guy did an amazing job with acrlyics and mixed paints to create these vibrant bright paintings. I was hugely taken with them. Not taken enough to purchase and lug home however. The next sectioon was a permanent display of representative art from the 20th century. Some were rather blase, but other were quite interesting. One in particular with male dctors operating on women in a bunch of diffferent rooms while other men watched was very Foucaultian. The rest of the museum was less interesting, especially the other featured artist whose work was uninspired to say the least. Next up was the Museo Historico Regional, a museum of the different culture groups that have occupied the area. They had a massive collection of Obsidan arrow points and their collection of Incan artefacts was the largest I've seen. They had little minature llamas made of gold, silver and precious stones. They also had a good display of the various weapons and tools used by the Inca. The upstairs of teh museum was dedicatesd to the colonial period and was rather repetitive. There was actually little of interest, just a bunch of second-class colonial paintings and a few minor artefacts. Most iunteresting to me were the paintings that combined woodwork with the paintying so that the figures actually come out of the painting. Then it was lunch. Aftyer much wandering, I finally found this recommended Andean restraunt called Quinta Eulia. I decided to give the cuy (pronounced Kwee) (Guinea Pig) one last shot as it was supposed to be done quite well here. The last two times I have had it, it was either is small chunks or served like a half-chicken. This time it came out full. Feet, head, heart, kidneys, all still there. It had literally been de-furred and cooked. Indeed, I'm pretty sure they cooked the fur off. The waiter told me you eat cuy with you hands, so I dug in, starting at the bottom and working my way up. It was pretty good actually, but a lot of that had to do with all the skin. Minus the skin, they actually don't have a tonne of meat, but what they have is good. I ate the heart, so that I could absorb the strength and courage of the Guinea pig, but decided to skip the brain, because I didn't want the mental ability of the guinea pig. It came with two potatoes and a stuffed hot pepper which was good, but very hot. I now feel like I have had Cuy. I'm not sure I need to do it again, mainly because it was greasy. After lunch I went and saw the Hatunrumiyoc, a 12 sided stone in a surviving Incan wall. Somewhat of a let down actually. It was pretty much square. Then I went to the Museo De Arte y Monastrio De Catalina. It is a small museum, but has an impressive collection of 1600 and 1700 paintings. One of the most interesting pieces was called ''Divine Winpress'' and for a reason I could never figure out had a crucified Jesus (with his feet free) stomping grapes in a barrel while he spurted blood everywhere. Apprarently it was influenced by the Flemish. Those crazy b******s. The coolest thing was a portable trunk showing the Birth Of Christ. This was a trunk that fiolded out to show a full display. Every surface was used with over 300 small figurines. It was about 3H x 4L x 2W. It's main display had the birth of jesus but there was also another 30 or forty scenes from the bible. It was crazily-detailed. And, even more interestingly, showed signs of religious syncretism, blending Incan beliefs with Catholic. By that point, I was getting a little run-down, so I went back to the Hostal, gotmy clothes off the line before it rained, and then went back out for dinner. The first place sucked, so I went to another and had a very good dinner and watched the world go by. Including an Italian I met a little while ago, but by the time I got to the door he had rounded the corner. Oh well. So, tomorrow is off to Ollantaytambo for a day, then to Aguis Calientes the next, then the day after that it is up Machu Picchu and back to Cusco!