First Days in Cusco

Report # 2 from Shannon Hughes in Cusco, Peru.

The sun rises early in Cusco, maybe 5AM.  I only know this because that’s when the songbirds – and the many feral dogs – begin their symphony.  By the time I head down from my place above the Plaza San Blas it’s already fairly high in the sky, and by mid-day it’s intense.

The high altitude and clear skies combine to create that sort of muted feeling to a landscape: the blue is brighter, but the green of the hills is washed out and the glare off the tile rooftops and streets obscures any of the subtle nuance in color of the city landscape.  Combined with the mid-day traffic, Cusco can be overwhelming some afternoons.  But it changes quickly and beautifully around 5pm when I’m making my way back up the hill to my neighborhood (if the Plaza de Armas, the city square, is 11,200 ft I live at 12,000 ft), everything becomes softer.  The clouds swirling around the hills begin to reflect the spectrum of an Andean sunset, and a subtle shift takes place in the landscape.  The desert feeling disappears as the greens in the hills begin to appear and the sky darkens.  All shades of green; more than I can describe, in long sloping hillsides and ridges broken up by large rock outcroppings.

As the sun sinks deeper and the moon rises, the city lights pop up and light the trails through the neighborhoods on the other side of the valley.  It’s amazing to see how high the city climbs, and to wonder what it would/will be like to ride my bike down one of those hillsides with all that flashing by.
When the sky is finally truly dark the whole city is illuminated and the stars are out and the temperature cools immediately.  And, aside from those feral dogs, it’s peaceful.
So, that’s my best description of what I experienced this evening.  Maybe next time I’ll remember to bring my camera.