To Cuzco & T-shirt, Sunny Weather!

Lima was rainy this morning as we flew to Cuzco and landed in 68 degree sunny weather! (Future airport in Cuzco will be 45 minutes in a different direction…and they welcome 2.5 million people per year; anticipating 3 million next year.) Cuzco has a population of 500,000 and is situated in a bowl with mountains around it. It is at 10,909 feet, was the capital of the Incan World, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We rode in our van to the Archeology Park of Pisac. There are many ruins, 72 Inca temples, and terraced hillsides. The people in the area farm large kernel white corn, quinoa, potatoes which they have 3,000 varieties, avocados, yucca, and their up and coming product you may have seen is maca; often seen at farmer's markets in the USA as maca powder. Our guide told us he used to eat quinoa for all 3 meals each day; he grew up and still lives in Cuzco.
To help with altitude we chewed on 10 coca leaves, and spit out the wad when done. One could go for more. Also sucked on coca candies. I tried this process of chewing and sucking since this is the only place I could try coca leaves; they are illegal to bring into the USA. As I write this post I feel okay, but I did take 5 minutes of pure oxygen to help a slight headache. If it persists I will take ibuprofen tonight and decide if my altitude medicine is needed tomorrow. I think we will be at 9-10 thousand feet tomorrow, but later in the trip I may decide to take my diamox as we go to 12,500 feet in Puno.
This area is called the Sacred Valley. Terraces were made in layers: rocks, then gravel, small stone, sand and fertile soil on top. Some terraces are here from the time of the Incas. High in the Andes Mountains you can see glaciers, at approximately 17,500 feet. Andean condors differ from our CA condors which eat dead animals. The Andean condors eat live animals!
Some discussion about the domesticated alpaca and llama versus the wild huanaco and vicuña. Vicuña is the animal symbol of Peru.
Other pieces of info:
1. Peru…#1. Copper mining, then fishing, agriculture and tourism
2. Cuzco …#1 Tourism then mining
3. Machu Picchu means old mountain
4. Politicians are in prison for 10 years having been found guilty of corruption.
5. Police make more money than teachers who make more money than nurses. Doctors, politicians, lawyers and business people make good money.
6. In a civilization encompassed 6 countries.
7. Poor people in Peru do not pay taxes.
8. Indians do own their land in some communities.
9. People wear clothing with bright colors to imitate flowers and birds.

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