Perched high above the city of Cusco is the Incan ruined fort of Sacsayhuamán – supposedly completing the puma’s head and teeth that Cusco represents. The climb was not easy. On the day that Mariel spent recovering in the hospital, I taxi’d back to the hostel, freshened up and headed out to hike up the mountain.
The fort was Cusco’s main defense, and there were many features – practical, religious, military – of the grounds. Some of the massive stones were as tall as me.
It was among these ruins that I had an experience I can only describe as unique. Two Peruvian girls were walking around the ruins with a camera. They motioned for me to take their picture, and I said Si – BUT then one of the girls jumped back while the other leaned in and put her arm around me! They wanted proof of this tall white guy! It was a goofy and awkward moment. Later on, a little Peruvian school boy followed me with his camera as he took picture after picture. So funny…
At the far end of the ruins, I approached a shaded grove with a dozen or so llamas. They were minding their own business, and being cared for by a dutiful herder. At first I was nervous that if I started taking pictures, I would be either disrespectful or have to pay them. Luckily, I was neither!
Finally, as I started to descend back into Cusco to return to the hostel and to Mariel, I passed quite a lot of schoolchildren returning from their day. Each in uniforms, and eyes bugging out as they stared at me pass – and, of course, they were all smiles. Who wouldn’t be on such a nice day?