Cuzco was the heart of the Inca empire until the Spanish conquered and built their city on top of the Inca constructions. The architecture is a blend of Inca and Spanish, and so is the languages, culture, and foods. The people in this area speak Spanish, Ketchua, or both. Ketchua is from the native language before the Spanish arrived.
Many of the city walls in Cuzco are remains of the Inca's city. You can tell which blocks are Inca remains by the tight fit of the blocks and the variety of shapes sizes that are formed to fit seamlessly. Occasionally you will see some carvings that resemble squiggles on some of the blocks. A church across the street from us was partially constructed with walls that were Incan.
Dinner at La Rentama
We ate several times at a restaurant called La Rentama. We came back specifically for a special traditional meat that we had to order a day ahead of time. It was cuy (guinea pig) slow cooked with the sauces inside. Please note how brave this is for a vegetarian to do.
When they served the guinea pig, it still had its face, legs and tail attached. The staff seemed either surprised or impressed that I actually ate it.
When we were done with the meal, one of the staff members took two round things out of the head, which were part of the inner ear. He broke the things open with his teeth and searched the tissues for a little parasite. The parasite is white with a head, tail, and two(?) little legs. One of the ear drums had a parasite, which meant good luck.
He took the parasite and eardrums away. We joked between ourselves thinking of what we would have done if he made is eat it. I said I would not, but Bill insisted I would have to to be polite! The staff member came back with anise and a glass. He showed me the parasite in the glass and poured the alcohol into the glass.
Might I add at this time that most of the conversation had been in Spanish and Bill was not clear as to what was going on. When the staff member offered me the drink, I politely refused. Bill said he would drink to our luck and took the glass and drank it. I could not believe it! After the staff member left, I said to Bill "I can't believe you drank the parasite!" He replied, with a look of horror on his face: "The parasite was in the glass?!" That is still my favorite Peru story.
The rest of the evening at La Rentama included a show with live Peruvian music and dance. Each dance had a different costume and told a different story. La Rentama gave us a wonderful experience with the Peruvian culture, including music, dance, and food. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We highly recommend it, even if you only order chicken.
Other Places to Eat
We were given directions to Restaurant Pachapayo by a bus driver. It is a good place to eat and it also serves llama meat if you are interested. We think it is at the Plaza San Blaj. (If we have any of these names incorrect it is because I can not read his handwriting very well.)
From the main plaza where La Rentama is, take Trianto Street which is next to the Cathedral. Pass one intersection and then turn right. There you are.