Friday, October 2, 2009
Spanish Cusco was Inca Q’osqo
Cusco is a city of quaint skinny streets and broad congested avenues. Spanish architecture is built over the old Inca infrastructure of a grand, puma-shaped city - a sacred animal to the Inca. The tight-fitted Inca stonework stands a story high and the Spanish walls rest on them. The Inca foundations are superior in appearance and performance. Earthquakes have not damaged them nearly as much. This city was Q’osqo, the Inca capitol, a gold-covered center - the navel of the Inca world. The gold attracted Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish explorer/conqueror in the 1530s.
I look down from Hostal Resbalso, across tiled rooftops, toward the Plaza De Armas, at a city in a valley’s bowl where, at 11,150 ft, altitude sickness (soroche) is common for visitors and the soroche pill treatment is in every pharmacy. A tea from the coca leaf (maté de coca) is also a good treatment or simply a nice tea to sip. Cusco became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, partly because the mixture of the Inca and Spanish empires is still so visible, maintained, and livable even. The Inca doorways lead into posh hotel lobbies and small shops alike.