Cusco, Peru: The Heart of the Inca Empire
I’ve been to many “gateway” cities that practically wrote the definition of the word “tacky.” Cusco, Peru, is a city with the very real opportunity to turn into a kitschy, touristy city, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the traditional and the trendy blend together on Cusco’s cobblestone streets. Old women with long, dark braids spilling down their backs held hands with their young children, who also dressed in traditional Peruvian clothing. They walked side-by-side with visitors to the city, who walked the streets with backpacks in tow.
Cusco is a city where old traditions still reign. We visited the week before Easter, and the streets came alive with parades and dancing. Men and women of all ages dressed in costume and acted out parts of old folklore, dancing in time to the music played by the street side drummers. We sipped fresh fruit juice on the Plaza de Armas but stepped a few blocks out of the standard tourist areas and were treated to delicious local meals served up for mere pennies.
Thousands of people pass through Cusco each year, and the city offers more than enough history and beauty to share with anyone willing to take the time to slow down and enjoy it.
I wrote a piece about the dichotomy found on the streets of Cusco, Peru, as well as information for the first-time visitor as my entry for the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association 2010 Conference Scholarship, which was chosen as the winner from a host of applicants. You can read my full piece on Cusco in IFWTWA’s publication, Global Writes. Feel free to leave comments here if you have any thoughts to share.
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