A tourist in Cusco

It's amazing what a bit of sunshine and a few paracetamol can do. We wandered around on our first day in Cusco (Peru) in the rain, dodging a myriad of sellers of tours, Inca themed dolls, rides in buses, photos with llamas, plastic llamas, furry cuddly toy llamas, woolly hats with llamas on them (you get the theme) - and life wasn't totally perfect. It didn't help that Sam and I had forgotten to start taking our useful altitude sickness tablets two days before arriving, as instructed, and were suffering from headaches and seriously out of breath walking around. (Geoff is made of sterner stuff - no pills needed.)

We retreated home to our llama-less room, and bed.

But the next day the sun was shining, the paracetamol was working, and there were firecrackers and May Day parades to enjoy and an exuberant brass band playing. The streets were full of Peruvian women looking just like tourists want them to look - some dressed up in the full gear for the compulsory photo with llama, or to sell you a hat, but lots just wandering around with their babies or their bundles strapped to their backs with colourful cloths, or sitting on the side of the street selling things. Many of the women still wear the traditional pleated skirts, woollen trousers, waistcoats and the tall hats. It can't be much fun walking around with a huge bundle of sticks strapped to your back, but it's awfully photogenic. 

We walked (breathlessly) up to the Inca ruins above the town. The complex is called Saqsaywaman in the Quechua language, which looks hard to say, but is easy to remember because it rather unfortunately sounds like "sexy woman". I paid for a rather bad photo of an woman with a baby llama, which means I could truthfully say to other women with llamas that I already have my photo. And then we sat at the top and watched the world go by down below.

The old city is very picturesque - all orange tiled roofs unsullied by modern buildings (which they stick on the outskirts) and with the high green hills behind. Little cobbled streets run between squares, and there are churches everywhere. It is decidedly touristy, but in the sunshine and without a headache, very pleasantly so.