My last day in Cusco, 11,500 feet up in the Peruvian Andes, I took a city tour – a little out of order, I know. I had read the history (typical European “liberation” by exploitation), rested from my trip to Machu Picchu and had taken a back alley salsa class (amusing in Spanish), but I still felt like there was more to learn about the former capital of the Incan empire where Latin locals pass altitude-sick gringos in a whirl of cobalt wooden balconies, cobblestone ant hills, alpaca-serving bodegas and one very busy Starbucks. During a tour with Roger, his name I learned half way through because I thought he just like to call us the “royal” group, there were a few factoid curveballs he threw at us that I did not see coming…

1. Who needs eHarmony when you have Tony’s ear? While we were perusing Cusco’s cathedral, Royal stopped us by the shrine to San Antonio and told us how young women for hundreds of years have been praying to this holy man to bring them fiancées, a tradition that still continues today. The only thing that has changed is that the girls now write their Facebook addresses on their wishes. A small gasp escaped me as he reached behind the idol and brought out one of the dozens of folded notes tucked behind the martyr’s bust and said, “Let’s read one.” My heart immediately went out to the poor girl whose secret dreams were about to be read aloud to a bunch of tourists….”Saint Anthony, please bring me a good fiancé who will end up being my husband,” Roger read with an affected girlish squeak. “I would also like to travel a lot.” Gotta give señorita some credit…It doesn’t hurt to ask…

2. On our promenade through the cathedral, Roger stopped at a Jacques-Louis David-sized painting of The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata. Typical, right? Wrong. The scene stealer is the roasted guinea steaming in the middle of the table. I wonder if that course came before or after the vino and the bread.

3. Cusco has had thousands of earthquakes and aftershocks, but the three most devastating eerily occurred in 1350, 1650 and 1950. After the 17th century stone shaker, all of the Spanish buildings gave way to rubble, while the pre-dating Incan structures remained. Why? The indigenous inhabitants had learned their lesson 300 years before and built windows and doorways in a trapezoidal pattern on a macro and micro scale. Do you feel more stable standing with your feet together or at shoulder width?

4. Roger took us to the ruins of Saqsaywaman, which overlook Cusco. He first busted the bubble that the name, pronounced “sexy woman”, actually means “satisfied falcon” (blah) and then sent us off to our own devices after repeating, “We are soooo high,” three times. Did you hog the coca tea amigo? While the rest of the group was marveling at the Incan stonework or city views, I somehow became a tourist attraction. A vacationing Peruvian family asked if they could get a photo with me. I can just see the scrapbook caption now: “Con El Gringa”. I should have set up a stand next to the woman charging to take photos with her alpaca to earn back a few pesos.

5. Roger was giving suggestions on what to do that night and mentioned that Cusco sports the highest elevated Irish pub in the world. Done and done.

February 5, 2012 2 Comments Travel


  1. tod February 6, 2012

    more pics with you in them darlin !!!

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