As we finally reached the former Inca capital, we tumbled into a cosmic realm of ancient Andean culture. The gateway to the Inca empire enchanted us with its cobble stone streets, ornate baroque churches and ladies with baby llamas in multicoloured textiles. The aroma of coca leaves and Quechuan spices made the city irresistible and the contradictions of tradition and modernity made the city feel like a living organism. Cusco became our home away from home as our base for our 9 day trek to Choquequirao and Machu Pichu and our horse riding trek through the Sacred Valley (a postcard to follow).
There were a few things on my to do list for Peru (the usual suspects being visiting Machu Pichu, trekking the Inca trail, spotting condors in the Andean peaks) among them being getting some handmade alpaca textiles. I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting but I had some National Geographic photos in my head of beautiful woven one of a kind scarves and dresses. So I was a little disappointed to realise that tourism (and capitalism) had gotten to this region quite firmly making most goodies at market stalls generic with the same items on multiple repeats. This isn’t to say that the things being sold at markets are not exquisite, but it made the experience a little less exciting when I spotted about 5 different tourists wearing the same poncho in one day. Nevertheless, this little alpaca rucksack tickled my ‘cuteness’ barometer. Maybe it’s my Japaneseness, but I had to have this woven llama on my back. Suffice to say, walking around Cusco became that much more exciting once I had my rucksack firmly holding all my essentials.