06.05.2013 - 06.05.2013 22 °C
The first observation you make flying into Cuzco is the incredible altitude you are at when you are flying in to the area. Sure when we fly over the Rocky Mountains it is OVER the mountains. However when you fly into Cuzco you fly through the mountains. They are right out the window of the plane.
The first impression of Cuzco is that this tourist town has a rich history that we will learn about more in the coming days. The city of 400,000 people is growing rapidly and expanding up the sides of the mountains.
The first group to arrive was treated to a walking tour of the main city. There are lots of cobblestones and sights to see. It is a challenge not to trip and fall as you gaze at all the scenery that surrounds you. The food here is amazing. I think most of us are a bit surprised at how good it is and how generous the servings are. Breakfasts are simple but sufficient. Yesterday at a tiny little place called Jack's we had a variety of items, homemade pumpkin soup, fresh salads, milkshakes, grilled cheese sandwiches and so much more. It was yummy and so fresh! The Peruvians love their cheeses and their potatoes.
Cuzco is known as the city of Cathedrals. In one square alone there are three cathedrals, a convent and the original university. We hope to explore more on our free day. In the square we began to experience the constant barrage of street vendors, everything from llama key chains, to jewelry to paintings. The students are practicing their bargaining skills and saying "No gracias". There have already been some purchases of alpaca or maybe alpaca sweaters, purses, painting and earrings. We prefer to think of it as distributing our wealth to our new friends in Peru.
As some of you know our student club, Global Passport, raised 500.00 to be used to buy supplies for the Planeterra Children of the Sun project that we are visiting on Tuesday. Our goal in the afternoon was to visit Plastisco, a Peru version of Army and Navy. We had a grand time buying supplies however the process to checkout and pay was an arduous one. At least 8 people helped before we actually got the bags of goodies. It was an adventure, to say the least.
Now, about altitude sickness. Cuzco is situated at 3300 meters or 11,800 feet above sea level. The air is thin and affects everyone differently. Some of us are taking altitude sickness prescription and others are taking their chances. So far there has been nothing to severe, some headaches, some hangover like symptoms and some dizziness. For those of you wanting to check on your loved ones they are doing well!
We will leave you today with a picture of one of the local ladies and her alpaca, wandering the streets. Price for a photo 1 sol, about 50 cents.