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In a relatively short period, the Spaniards may have destroyed an ancient culture, but they did their best to construct another one.

Built on Inca foundations, Cusco is one of South America's colonial gems.

Colonial Cusco - A South American Gem

Cusco is still the cultural centre of the Quechua people, proved by the tens of thousands who make the annual pilgrimage to the city of legend to see the ruins, listen to the living music, and take part in the centuries old tradition of trading in the streets.

Colourful Sights

While many colonial towns and cities have become neglected, Cusco continues to wear her white of colonia in a fresh manner.

The disappearance of her Inca King and Spanish Lords have not driven her to neglect her bridal gown like the Victorian Miss Havisham in Dickens.

Cusco expects her visitors, and the old peak, Machu Picchu, helps to attract them.

Machu Picchu - Lost City of the Incas - � Michel,
Machu Picchu - Lost City of the Incas.
First published in the APA Insight Guide to Peru.
� Michel -

When you visit Cusco, you will be enchanted by her charm: the white-washed walls, blue wooden doors and window-shutters, elaborately carved wooden balconies, overhanging eaves, earth-coloured roof tiles, and stone cobbled streets.

And of course the art and monuments that stand as a testimony to the Catholic faith; a city declared by UNESCO as part of the world's cultural heritage.

The city breathes with colourfully clothed campesinos selling everything from vegetables to weavings, but the Indian spinning wool or standing next to her llama on Plaza d'Armas is not a God sent coincidence for the happy snapper. They consider it a job to dress up and pose for the tourists and expect a small fee in return.

With sonar-like hearing and eyes in the back of their heads, they can pick out a shutter click across the road, and search for the little black image recorders like herons diving from the sky for a fish.

If paying for a picture seems too much, then the offender will be chased from the square with an outstretched hand.

Andean Sound

There is a certain pride in the traditional Andean sound. A sound that has held out against the influences from Spain, Africa, and modern electronics.

Some of the music is positively lively, but although there is a temptation to dance to the huanyo rhythm, the melody and the voice of a singer in real sorrow may move the listener somewhere deeper.

It is not certain if the music is an Inca heritage, or a painful reaction to the Spanish arrival, played out with a brave face. The Andean flute (que�a) pipes out the weepy, almost screaming out in agony, high notes, while the pan-pies (zamponas) bounce with a breathy beat.

No stringed instruments were played before the arrival of the Spaniards, only wind and percussion. There were two types of drum that can still be seen in the pe�as, folklore dens, today.

The wankar is the big side drum that beats out the bass, and the little side drum is called the tinya. Small cymbals are also used, while dried seed-pods are worn around the wrists and ankles; to help shake out the rhthym.

As the charango is stringed, its idea must have come with the Europeans. It is a cross between the mandolin and the bandurria. The guitar is also used, as is a lighter, portable version of the harp.

Cusco - Copyright Michel, Travel Notes
Colonial Cusco - � Michel, Travel Notes

The Brazilians may have hit the export market with a raunchy song and dance routine called the Lambada, but the song was an Andean original tiled Llorando se Fue, and written by Los Kjarkas.

All in all, there's a wonderful treat for your senses waiting to embrace you in Cusco.

By Michel.

Related Links

Peru Travel Notes:
Peru is divided into three regions: the coastal desert, extending the length of the country; the upper Andes mountain range; and the jungle.

Pilfering in Peru:
Ever since Pizarro tricked the Inca, Atahualpa, into capture; slaughtered him, and looted the City of Cuzco, Peru has become synonymous with robbery.

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