On our last day in Cusco, we had the pleasure of going to the outdoor market. Women with babies on their backs carried on with business as usual selling fruits I’ve never seen before, a variety of different potatoes, cheeses, textiles, jewelry, and mysterious herbs to heal and protect. Scrappy dogs perused the aisles for tasty morsels, and children playing with sticks ran in between flower stands that filled the air with fragrant perfume.
I wish I could tell you all that we ate there, but I can’t for the life of me remember the Peruvian fruit names beyond star fruit and papaya- a.k.a. the bane of my existence. Anyway, the fruit featured below was tasty, but I kept imagining I was eating frog eggs, which detracted from the experience just a little.
Soon after, we visited the office of the organization to get more information about the compilation of occupations we were going to partake in. Yes, I am ridiculous. We met the founder of CREES- who seems very passionate about his work- and the other members of the group as well. Got to say, as usual, one of my favorite parts of this undertaking was the food. We went to a restaurant for lunch after our meeting and ate ceviche- a classic Peruvian raw fish dish. It was delicious.
Back to the center of town, and Tilman informed us that we were going to take a scenic walk. Now, I thought we were going to go on a nice little stroll through the side roads of the city, but no, we are full-out trekking up this “hill” which would definitely be considered a mountain back in North Carolina. At first I ambled along, unaware of our destination, but after a good twenty minutes, it was obvious where we were headed. We were going to see Jesus.
At the top of the hill was a massive, cream-colored, Rio de Janeiro-like statue of Christ watching over the city, arms open wide. God, I needed a hug right then. I struggled up that hill. At some point, the incline was absolutely vertical. I whipped out my inhaler to battle my exasperating asthma and prayed that my brain wouldn’t explode from the altitude. To add an element of confusion to the mix, a man passed by and called Tilman a “sexy woman.” Eh? Only days later did someone explain to us that the man was headed to the ancient Incan site of Sacsayhuaman. Anyway, by the time we got to the top of the hill, I understood the need for the statue- I’m pretty sure I almost died on the way up.
By the statue were three decorated crosses. In the background, an old man played the guitar and sang Peruvian folk songs. We looked down below at the landscape of the city, and what do you know, the climb was worth the reward. Before we left, a little boy named Roberto let me take a picture of him with his baby llama, Poncho, and so I felt that even if my brain did combust, I would die happy.
- Our green meal at the end of the day.