Thursday, 22 September 2016

From Costa Blanca in Spain to Cusco in Peru – Days 7 to 9

Richard shapening his knife to carve the lamb

Our final day and a half in Spain with Richard and Elizabeth were full of good food and silliness. We had a superb roast leg of lamb dinner cooked in the village at a restaurant, but we had it as a take-away and ate it on the balcony at R&E’s. Well, why not with the fabulous view they have, much better than in the restaurant and R&E have plenty of splendid wine. 

And right on cue with the sunset
On the beach just outside the Calpe restaurant
On our final afternoon there, after we had packed again, we all went to the great seafood restaurant in Calpe that we’ve been to on a number of occasions with them. Its right next to the beach and the seafood is so fresh it’s to die for and great value for money. From the table we could see Calpe rock and it reminded us of the brilliant multi-pitch rock climb we had done right to the summit a few years back and made us both think how much we want to do it again. We’ll have to get our climbing heads back in after this trip and get back on the rock! After taking some silly photos on the beach it was time to go for the start of our very long journey to Cusco in Peru.

Some silliness on the beach
And a bit more. Richard looking pretty cool, Elizabeth not quite so cool
Richard dropped us off at Alicante airport at about 17:45 for the first of three flights at 20:20. It comprised a one hour flight to Madrid, a wait of 2½ hours, then the big flight across the Atlantic which was about 12 hours, a further wait at Lima airport in Peru for just under 3 hours and then the final one hour flight up to Cusco, arriving at 09:20am on Thursday morning (today) having put our clocks back seven hours from Spanish time.

And Jackie showing she's a bit of a toughie too. Richard backed away when I went to pick him up!
I went up on the roof to remove some weeds and couldn't resist this
Surprisingly we both managed to get about 6 hours of fitful sleep on the long flight, waking up aching and then managing to get back to sleep again, so although it wasn’t good sleep it certainly did us some good. We’ve now arrived in Cusco at an altitude of 3300m which, coming from sea level as we did, puts us right in line for having altitude sickness. They say sudden increases in altitude of more than 2500m is likely to induce the nasty hangover type feeling that it can give. That coupled with the 7 hours of time difference and poor sleep on the plane makes for a relatively unpleasant day!

And so to Cusco. This is the Plaza de Armas, the modern and ancient centre. It sits roughly on the ceremonial huacapata, the Incas' ancient central Plaza
The 16th century Templo de la Compania de Jesus
However, again surprisingly, we don’t feel too bad. The main thing for us is to try to stay awake until local bedtime here, say about 10:00pm as this hopefully will force our bodies to adjust. That’s why I’m sitting here at 5:00pm local time, midnight body clock time, writing the blog, whilst drinking lots of water (and even coca tea) to stave off the headache which keeps threatening. Early dinner about 6:00/6:30pm and then just try to stay awake as long as possible, possibly not making it to 10:00pm.

Jackie standing in front of the Convento de San Fransisco built between 1645 and 1652
The Plaza Regoclio, from where free guided city walks start from
Despite the lack of sleep, jet lag and mild altitude sickness we’ve actually had a pleasant first day in Cusco, the weather’s been sunny and quite warm (although yesterday apparently it hammered down with rain and hail in the afternoon) and the city is just fabulous, steeped in history as it is from the days of the Francisco Pizzaro and his band of Spanish Conquistadores in the sixteenth century, the legendary Incas who ruled what is now Peru and Ecuador before them and even the other indigenous tribes before them. The evidence is all here and it’s just great to be here in amongst it all, there’s lots to see and do here and we’re hoping we can get some of it done.

Inside the library
Before we do that, or in between doing that, we’ve got a three week Spanish language course booked starting next Monday 26th and on Sunday we move from the small hotel we’re in now into a homestay, where we’ll be living with a Spanish family for the duration, so it’s in at the deep end with full immersion in Spanish; I’ll either sink or swim (but Jackie I suspect will swim as she’s better at languages and has spoken a bit of Spanish for much longer than me, her dad living in Spain and all).

We’re doing the course with a company called FairPlay, who are a non-profit company who offer one-to-one (but we’ve asked to do it together) classroom based instruction in the mornings and out with a local in the afternoons walking round markets and shops and talking about everyday things. Half the money goes to the organisation and the other half we pay directly to the local person, who is likely to be a single mother and in need of the money (but also properly trained), so it’s all going to a very good cause and all in to the local economy.

We were met at the airport by a half Israeli half Argentinian girl who is currently working there in between her university studies and she took us straight to the school to show us round and introduce us to our teachers and to meet the other people there. It’s all very laid back and friendly and we think we’re going to really enjoy it. We’ve already been invited to a party there tomorrow night as it’s John, the owners birthday, so it’ll be good to get to know them all (they do all speak English)! We also found out that on one evening per week they do Salsa classes, so I feel we’ve got to have a go at that!

We had a really interesting walk round some of Cusco today and the photos below are some of what we saw with some history in the captions under them. It’s going to be good!
Now this may just look like a stone wall, but its very interesting. These stones were laid by the Incas long before the Spanish arrived and each stone probably weighs several tons. Each one is perfectly carved to abut to its neighbour, some of them with many sides. Can you just imagine the work of laying a stone of several tons to check its fit and then removing again to chip a bit more off? It's just amazing - how did they do it?

This is the street in which these fabulous stone walls are. Unfortunately, when the Spanish arrived many of the old Inca palaces were destroyed either by the Spanish or in the fighting and civil wars. The remaining lower parts of the walls were used by the Spanish to build new churches on top

1 comment:

  1. Amused about how you finished the blog. I am guessing it was either 10 o'clock or you fell asleep!
    Hope you wake up refreshed and enjoy.