Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Aquí Estoy

It was my last night in the lap of modern luxury. In Lima at the Hotel Costa del Sol I watched RuPaul with Spanish subtitles, skyped with my loved ones and declined the free drink the hotel offered. I sank into the downy sheets, rested my head on the perfectly plump pillow and felt happy. I was finally in Peru.

I was awoken by the telephone at 4 am. I allowed myself to relish in my cloud-like cocoon for 5 more minutes and then with an air of excitement, precaution and readiness I made my way to the airport just across the street.

On the plane I was lucky enough to be the only passenger seated in my row of three. I stretched out and fell asleep. As I awoke I
 saw the most beautiful mountain range I've ever seen. Awe-stricken I marveled at the heap of land rising out of the earth and the majesty that the crown-like snow seemed to imbue. Then I scrambled to grab a camera. I have with me a disposable, a simple digital point and shoot and my iPhone. The iPhone is the best quality and most easily shareable, but was turned off for the flight. So I grabbed the other two and stared snapping pictures knowing they couldn't possibly compete with what  my eyes had witnessed.

I was greeted at Aeropuerto de Cusco by my homestay host Luz (which means light in English). Luz is a lively woman. Caring, informative, petite and pregnant with twins. Though 6 months along, I didn't even notice until she told me she couldn't lift anything and pointed out her belly.

The taxi dropped us off at Luz's place- a store front the leads to a beautiful two story home.  Modest, cute and cozy.  I already feel right at home. Similar to Frida Kahlo's home in Mexico it's center is more like an open air plaza. I met her parents with whom she lives. They are small and sweet.  All the doorways are quite small, perfect for my size.


After setting my things in my room, Luz invited me downstairs for cocoa tea. Delicious, sublte and relaxing, everyone in Peru drinks cocoa tea and tourists are urged to drink it to help with adjusting to the altitude. Cusco is 11,203 ft above sea level. She also offered me some freshly baked bread, slightly reminiscent of challa in taste, that was delicious. Her mother goes to the market and buys it fresh every morning.  I plan on rising at 6 one of these mornings so I can experience it warm, even more freshly baked. 

                            Cocoa tea
Fresh bread and mango juice

Indigenous peoples say that Cusco is the naval of the world. The Inca Cross is a partial representation of this. Here's what wikipedia has to say about the Inca Cross:

The Chakana (or Inca Cross, Chakana) symbolizes for Inca mythology what is known in other mythologies as the World Tree, Tree of Life and so on. The stepped cross is made up of an equal-armed cross indicating the cardinal points of the compass and a superimposed square. The square represents the other two levels of existence. The three levels of existence are Hana Pacha (the upper world inhabited by the superior gods), Kay Pacha, (the world of our everyday existence) and Ucu or Urin Pacha (the underworld inhabited by spirits of the dead, the ancestors, their overlords and various deities having close contact to the Earth plane). The hole through the centre of the cross is the Axis by means of which the shaman transits the cosmic vault to the other levels. It also represents Cuzco, the center of the Incan empire, and the Southern Cross constellation.

Inca Cross


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