Sorry for the lack of updates, but I've been out and about taking as many photos as I can and it has been an adventure. Thursday, I spent most of the day dealing with the beauracracy here in Cusco, walking around for hours back and forth trying to find offices, being sent to the wrong ones and back again. This was all for the ticket for the Inti Raymi festival. The hostal I'm staying at told me a few months ago that I had to wait until the week before to get tickets for the festival and I'm sorry I listened to them. All the best seats were sold out by May 21st, but I was assured that the seat I'm getting is good.
In the middle of all this running about, I was taken completely by surprise by one of the religious festivals being held in the main plaza, the Plaza de Armas. Somehow, amidst all my research I missed this one. And it was amazing. All day and well into the night the streets were filled with revelers and church members celebrating the Feast of San Christobel. Large statues of Jesus and other saints are carried on litters atop the shoulders of some unfortunate individuals who walk around the plaza desperately trying not to drop these massive structures. There were certainly a few nervous moments as the strain on the faces of these carriers showed and Jesus was almost dropped a few times into the crowd. All day and night this is done! Intense.
Yesterday, I hiked at least 7 or 8 miles, visiting 5 archaeological/sacred Incan sites, including: Tambo Machay (the bath of the Incas), Punca Pucara (an ancient Incan hunting lodge), the Temple of the Moon, Q'enko (where the mummified remains of some past nobles were kept and Alpaca sacrificed to augur the future) and the massive fortress of Saqsayhuaman (one of the last holdouts of the Incas against the Spaniards).
I was completely wiped out upon my return to Cusco, to say the least. Heat exposure, fever dreams, the beginnings of blisters on my feet. Today I will take it easy and stay inside, visiting the Catedral and some of the other, smaller churches as well as the Museo de Coca. I still feel a bit under the weather today, so hopefully an early, good night's rest will find me back to myself by tomorrow. Tomorrow begins the Inca Trail...