On the morning of the 16th, we met the group in the lobby for a morning briefing by Edwin before our free day in Cusco at 9:30 am. Following the briefing, we went to Museo Korikancha from 10-10:30 and looked at the exhibits of artifacts from Coricancha. We then wandered up the the Plaza de Armas where we planned on hiking up past the Stone of 12 Angles and up to San Blas.
Once we got to the Plaza de Armas, our plans changed as we ran into the middle of a festival. We walked into the Plaza to see tons of young children in school uniforms dancing in various groups as they paraded around the square. We stopped to watch for a while over by the Cathedral, only to see the childrens parade grow into a full-blown parade. We later found out that the parade was the very beginning of the Inti Raymi festival that culminated on June 24. We ended up sitting and watching the parade for about an hour and a half. With the parade showing no signs of ending we decided to head out and get back onto our original plan for the day.
We left the Plaza with Greg M and Amanda as Greg and Rich had decided to stay longer at the parade and headed up towards San Blas. At the Stone of 12 Angles, we got a local guide who showed us that stone, as well as a puma and serpent that the Incans had designed into the wall. He then took us around to see the 13 angled stone, which isn’t nearly as famous, but is of similar quality.
After that, we headed up to San Blas. We briefly toured the inside of Iglesia San Blas in about 30 minutes. The most notable part of this church is the puplit that was carved from a single cedar tree. It is rumored that the skull at the top of the pulpit is that of the artist.
We then went and had an excellent lunch at Pacha Papa, right across the square from San Blas. I had adobo de chancho, a marinated pork stew, with a chicha de jora, a fermented corn beer, to drink. Andrea had an algarrobina, a drink made with pisco and carob syrup, and crema de papa amarilla, a yellow potato cream soup.
After lunch we went over to Museo Inka with Amanda, as Greg M decided to go on his own way. Museo Inka contained a large exhibition of Inka artifacts. We got a laugh out of the fact that all of the signs depicted naked Incas. The courtyard had a number of native weavers working, we bought a handwoven doll from them while we were there.
After Museo Inka, we began our rush through a number of museums over the next 2 hours. Our Boleta Turisto Grande (BTG) allowed us entrance to a number of museums around Cusco and we kept getting there about 15 minutes before each of them closed. We toured the Museo de Arte Popular in about 15 minutes, which was about all that museum required. We then went to Convento de San Francisco, but discovered that it was closed until 6 pm, so we went to Museo Historico Regional. While I would have liked more time there, it was very similar to other museums we had seen. We then went to Convento Santa Catalina de Siena and got our 15 minutes there, though I would have definitely liked more there, before heading back to San Francisco.
After San Francisco, everything was closed and we were getting pretty tired, so we headed back to the hotel to relax before the folk dance dinner. We ended up hanging out in the hotel, drinking Inca Kolas courtesy of the Inca Kola promotion, and backing up photos onto Greg’s laptop while we waited for dinner.
At 7:30 pm we boarded the buses and headed over to the Inka Wall for our folk dance dinner. The dinner was very good and people in our group were impressed by the roast guinea pig that they had for display. The show was incredible as well as the dancers demonstrated folk dances from all of the different regions of Peru, from the north to the south and the coast to the highlands to the jungle. It was a very entertaining evening.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel at about 9:30 pm where we watched the end of the Inca Kola folk dance show in the hotel. We then headed upstairs to pack for the flight back to Lima and then went to bed for the night.