I do not actually know how to do any dance steps but I must look like a dancer because I am always being dragged onto the dance floor by strangers in foreign countries. And if there is no dance floor, the aisle on a moving train 😉
In Peru I was asked most days if I liked to dance. Like Chris in New Orleans, it seems Peruvian men are trained to dance. A man who can dance is a real treasure. They lead – so you can pretend as long as you jump around enough to not step on their toes. That’s my strategy 😉
I have already added to my “to do list” – dance at a festival in Peru. I don’t even need to dance. I’d just love to participate in a festival. I think it’s the combination of various cultural religious beliefs. Cusco seems a bit like New Orleans – any excuse for a party 😉
The calendar seems to be filled with festivals and I regretted my poor planning that I had just missed one. I never expected to regret being at the Sanctuary Lodge in Machu Picchu instead of partying in Cusco 🙂
In the end I spent only one day in Cusco so it still remains a bit of a mystery – perfect for another visit… But I tried to use my time productively and not succumb to being too much of a tourist. Cusco is crawling with them.
I had already spent two fleeting evenings in the city but my final visit started on a perfect note. David, my guide in the Sacred Valley and for my private tour of Machu Picchu, was in Cusco for the night before a “proper” Inca Trail trip so I took him for dinner. I asked where he wanted to go and he said my new local, Tupananchis. When you are taking a local to your fave restaurant in their home town, you feel like a traveller rather than a tourist 😉
I tried to continue the theme the next day when I was left to my own devices. I stayed at the Casa Cartagena – my own luxury apartment in Cusco right next to the Orient Express’s Hotel Monasterio for a lower price tag. I think the hotel room may have been larger than my apartment! The bathroom was so magnificent it made you reluctant to leave and I had a lovely balcony overlooking the courtyard filled with modern art. It is a sublime mixture of colonial and contemporary.
It’s just enough off the beaten tourist path to make you feel like a local – so I tried to follow the hotel receptionist’s directions to the Saturday market without using my map. You always see and experience more when you wander.
I found the market without any issues and – while there were a few like-minded tourists obsessed with alpaca – it was mostly full of locals.
Markets in Peru are full of colour – and meat products looking a little more like the animals of origin than the typical North American supermarket. Naturally I kept trying surreptitiously to get a great photo of a pig’s head 🙂
Lingering attracts attention so I decided to try out the juice bar in the market. It’s a bit political. Some will be mad you didn’t choose them but I was as fair as possible and parked myself into a chair at the first lady who smiled in my direction. This is the tropics so a fresh fruit smoothie is an experience that’s tough to duplicate in northern climes.
I finished my Cusco adventure in a hunt for silver jewelry inlaid with local stones in intricate patterns. The
geologist in me loved the concept of polishing stones to shiny perfection and the anthropologist loved the rich cultural history and Inca symbolism.
When I wear my purchases back in Canada they are not just pretty shiny objects. I know I am wearing the symbolism of the Inca Cross, Pachamama and the Sun God, hopefully having had a little “local” fairy dust sprinkled on me, establishing an authentic view of Peru and further editing my personal world view and cultural understanding.