Sunday, 30 October 2005

Thoughts About Cusco

There were a few things I wanted to comment upon while I was in Cuzco but I never found the time to do it so here goes.

Sexy Woman, Inca Style

The day before starting the Inca Trail, I did a short training session by walking up to the walls of . Those walls formed an integral part of Cuzco in Inca times and are located 2 kilometres from the city centre and 200 metres above it. So walking to them involves a good climb. Although Sacsayhuamán was a complex that comprised religious temples and storage areas, it also acted as a defensive wall to the city. It is believed it was intentionally shaped so that it would resemble a jaguar head, with Cusco as the body. This same shape must have also made it impossible to attack without heavy losses. In addition, Sacsayhuamán is one of the best examples of magalithic Inca construction, with individual stones weighing in at more than 100 tons, so little chance of breaching the wall for would be invaders.

Beyond all this, the one thing English speakers remember about the place is that its name sounds very much like Sexy Woman.

Offer And Demand

I was in Cuzco at a time slightly outside the high season. In fact, the majority of tourists were Peruvian school children on holidays and the rest of them were mostly backpackers on a budget. All the restaurants and bars in Cuzco were open for business as in the high season but the number of tourists likely to become customers was small. As a result most places were finding it difficult to attract customers to the point that sometimes the staff would outnumber customers 5 to 1. This state of affairs engendered stiff competition between places. And considering most restaurants and bars were around the Plaza de Armas, this central square was the site of fierce battles between staff armed with the menu of one restaurant or another, the ultimate prize being to convince you to dine at their place rather then the neighbour's. On a few occasions I ended up with 3 or 4 different people thrusting a menu in my face, trying to speak louder than the others and telling me that I'd be making a huge mistake if I were to go to any other place. What didn't help is that they all have very similar tourist oriented menus. But it was fun to listen to the arguments and counter arguments.

Sexy Woman, English Style

Peru is a fairly traditional country, at least on the surface, machism is ripe and men are not shy in showing women their appreciation. Peruvians, especially the people of Cuzco, typically have dark hair and dark skin. Cuzco is very high in altitude and as such nights are fresh, even if days can be very hot. As a result, people who prefer Western dress to traditional Andean dress usually wear long trousers, especially in the evening.

So, when you are a young English girl of 18 or 20 years of age, with very blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin, wearing a very short mini-skirt and skimpy top, in the dress-to-kill Newcastle style, what can possibly happen the second you set foot on the Plaza de Armas at night? Cat calls. Persistent and loud to the point that every single male in the square forgets they have a job trying to attract tourists to their restaurant, bar or diso and converge to the same point, adding their own cat calls until the whole square reverberates with the sound.

Advertising

By going to Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, I think I now know what the Nazca lines were about: giant advertising for pre-Inca businesses. They are using the same technique today to draw huge logos and slogans on the sides of mountains near Cuzco, especially one that can be seen from all over town and that reads ¡Viva el Peru! ¡Glorioso Cusco! Talk about national pride.

Sexy Coffee

In a completely non-PC style, Cuzco has a great coffee shop where all staff are cute young women wearing mini-skirts. Their motto is Sabor y Sensualidad, Flavour and Sensuality. The coffee is nice too and they have a big screen showing music videos, mostly J-Lo while I was there, to add to the theme.

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