Seven questions I continue to ask myself since arriving in Cusco

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Thursday March 17, 2016 - Posted by to Peru Travel, Spanish in Cusco
17Mar
Seven questions I continue to ask myself since arriving in Cusco

Seven questions I continue to ask myself since arriving in Cusco

Every since I arrived in Cusco for my Spanish Immersion Program in Peru, there are some questions that keep coming up and

some thoughts that I continue to ask myself since arriving in Cusco. Do you want to know which ones?

Read my story!

 

  1. Why do I feel like I am always going uphill in Cusco?
    Cusco, the ancient centre of the Incan Empire, is located in the Andes mountain range at an altitude of roughly 3,500 m above sea-level. Its location close to the “Sacred Valley of the Incas” complements its mystic character of the capital and the crucial point for Inca culture. For me, Cusco´s importance in the high points of the Incan culture was why I just had to travel there. But wait…Valley? …High mountain range? I did indeed read about the location of my travel goal, but did I imagine that I would be feeling like every little calle went uphill? Definitely not. On top of that, since I was not used to a high elevation like this, I was constantly out of breath during my first days in Cusco! Well, I actually still am.

Seven questions I continue to ask myself since arriving in Cusco

    1. Do I look like I need a massage?
      The tourist industry in Cusco is flourishing! The city currently is rated the top 2 destination in all of South America. Now, this can be considered a blessing or a curse, but the good news is that the everyday tourist will definitely find everything they need in Cusco. (I had not expected this before my travels.) And you can even find more than you thought you needed! I always knew that I was approaching the tourist area of town when at every corner a lady would offer me a “massage” in a voice sweet as honey and would wave a flyer in my face. Now, if you are coming back from the 4 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you might indeed be in need of a massage – but my back felt just fine! I was certainly not used to being spotted as a tourist that easily. During my first days in Cusco I definitely learned the phrase “No, gracias” very quickly.

 

3. How many churches does this place have?

 

In Peru, an estimated 77 % of the population is catholic. Even considering the high percentage of presumably very faithful people, Cusco has an astounding number churches. By this I refer to the historic centre. At almost every corner I turned and spotted a new iglesia or catedral. After spending some time in Cusco and doing multiple tours of the city centre, I was told what was behind this: As Cusco used to be the crucial centre of power in the Incan times, it featured a great amount of holy Inca temples. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the city of Cusco, spreading Christianity, they had a church constructed on top of the ruins of every single temple!

 

Seven questions I continue to ask myself since arriving in Cusco

    1. Who is Christo Blanco?
      As I said, I found out very quickly that the Cusqueños spotted me easily as a tourist in their city. And most people are very interested in what you think of their country. They often proudly ask you which which places in Cusco you have already visited. So during my first days, I was inquired a lot of times if I had been to Christo Blanco yet? As I didn´t know what we were talking about, I asked myself every time who this mysterious and special Christian figure could be? After a while, I found out that we were talking about the huge white statue of Jesus Christ mounted above Cusco. It is actually quite a nice walk up there, however it´s not advisable for the first couple of days until you are used to the altitude and walking uphill.
      The view of the city from the platform of Christo Blanco is literally quite breath taking!

 

5. Where is the Plaza de Armas?

The historic centre of Cusco has a big main square called Plaza de Armas. On my way to AMAUTA Spanish school, which was located in the centre, or to several other spots I wanted to visit, I often had a rather hard time orientating myself. (I am not the best with directions as it is….) So with every city map I was given, the Plaza de Armas served as the orientation point for me. Looking at the map, twisting and turning it, I kept on asking myself “If I am here, where is Plaza de Armas?”.

 

Seven questions I continue to ask myself since arriving in Cusco

    1. Would I ever be able to drive a car in Cusco?
      Traffic in Cusco seems completely chaotic – after some time I realized: There are traffic rules, but a lot of times it follows the one “Who hits the gas first has the right of way”! For the European eye, the traffic can seem quite disordered, yet, astoundingly, it works organically! (There even is a public transport system). In the bigger intersections, there usually are traffic lights or, at rush hour, a police officer who directs traffic. If crossing the road on foot, however, you better look left and right at least 4 times!

 

7. Is my Spanish this good or why do I already understand so much?

Latin American Spanish is by many considered easier than the Spanish that is spoken in Spain, and Peruvian Spanish easier than other dialects in South America. For example, Latin American “Castellan” is missing the form “vosotros” – which is great! One less form of the verb to remember! After two weeks of my Spanish courses in Cusco, I was already able to understand a great deal of what the tour guides were telling us. I had bilingual guides, so they usually told us about the sites first in English and then repeated it in Spanish, which was great practice!

 

thanks to:

Meike Zimmermann, Cusco

March 2016

 

 

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