Cusco: First Impressions

The rainy season’s clouds settle over Cusco

Country number six: Peru. After a few flights and a terrible layover, we landed in Cusco around 10 am. We were exhausted, but managed to find the correct bus to our hostel, accidentally got off a stop too early, and then trudged uphill to our hostel. Maybe it was the week of pampering on the Galapagos, or maybe it was the thin air, but these first stairs in Cusco were some of the hardest I’ve climbed.¬†One hostel bed and a blessed nap later, we left to explore the city.

Sitting at nearly 3,400 meters above sea level (more than 11,000 feet), Cusco is a high-altitude city normally populated by posh tourists, adventurous thrill-seekers, and local Peruvians trying to make a living. But because we arrived in the low (rainy) season, the narrow cobblestone streets of the city were decidedly quiet, while the sky alternated between bright blue and threats of rain. Here’s our first impression in photos:

An empty street in Cusco’s hills
Women selling tours gather to chat in Plaza de Armas
A thrill-seeker rides his bicycle down the steep steps in a hillside neighborhood
A signpost explains the layout of Prehispanic Cusco; the original city was laid in the shape of a jaguar along cardinal directions of Mayan myth
A family relaxes at a park overlooking Cusco
A mural on the wall in a restaurant and bar
Vendor shops in an alcove near Plaza de Armas
Construction workers demonstrate in the street at dusk

An alternate view of Cusco, not unlike the one you might experience while fainting¬†from the thin air here (just kidding — playing with new photo angles)

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