Being a tourist

Plaza packed with people in the morning
Plaza packed with people in the morning

Today, the dancing competitions were obviously continuing, so I watched for a short while before going to do some of the tourist things that I still hadn’t done. I started in the Cathedral, where I bought a ticket that allowed me into a couple of other churches and a Religious Art Museum. I wasn’t allowed a free audio set in the Cathedral, which annoyed me somewhat, the reason for this being that I only had a copy of my passport and not the original for identification.

The main spectator area in front of the stage
The main spectator area in front of the stage

I cruised around the Cathedral, picking up bits of information from one or two of the English speaking tour guides, as I passed, although there weren’t many of them there today. The most famous part of the Cathedral is the large painting of the Last Supper with a guinea pig as its centre piece. There is also a massive amount of gold in the Church.

However, I have seen enough of these buildings now. They are all, it seems to me, very ornate and opulent and a stark contrast to the reality outside the door. All the while I was in the church, I could hear the very loud loudspeakers outside, which detracted somewhat from the experience.

Dancers on one side of the Plaza
Dancers on one side of the Plaza

I next made my way to the Museum and had a quick look in there (not somewhere I would have visited if I hadn’t had the ticket) and then walked up to San Blas, whose church was also included. This is a much smaller and simpler, adobe church that is considered to be the oldest in Cusco. There is still an excessive amount of gold covering the altar, however, and the principal feature, other than the altar, is a very ornately carved wooden pulpit. I sat in a pew and looked whilst the cleaner spread disinfectant on the floor around me.

Courtyard of the Museum of Religious Art
Courtyard of the Museum of Religious Art

On the way back to the Plaza, I did a bit of unsuccessful window shopping, having bought no presents for anyone. However, I quickly got fed up with being hassled by the vendors. There are thousands of shops in Cusco selling weavings, alpaca (supposedly) jerseys, hats and gloves, religious candles and icons and all sorts of other items that they seem to think tourists might want. There are also many, many people (mainly women) making a living selling llama key rings, paintings and jewellery (amongst other items) on the streets, as well as those attempting to lure people in for massages. Consequently, as you are walking around, there is a constant barrage of people thrusting goods or pieces of paper into your face, which gets a little irritating after a while.

The Plaza in the late afternoon
The Plaza in the late afternoon

I found a small cafe for lunch where a couple of Peruvian ladies sat down at my table, there being no other vacant ones. One of them was, I thought, extremely rude and kept calling to the waitress, who was attending to other customers. She then refused to eat the trout, which was the only choice left, and demanded one of the other items on the menu. Surprisingly, they actually found another portion of the supposedly run out dish.

After a lunch of soup and trout (for I did not demand one of the other choices!), I walked around the corner to the Machu Picchu Museum and spent some time looking at that and the photographic exhibition. The latter was quite small and contained black and white images of villagers in the high Andes, taken by three photographers, one of whom was the owner of the Earthship I had visited.

I walked around for a little while afterwards and then made my way back to my room. The dancing had all finished in the Plaza and the stands were decidedly empty but there were still a few people milling about as I passed by.

People milling around in the centre of the Plaza
People milling around in the centre of the Plaza

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