machu picchu – day7
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back in cusco

We were back at the train station in Aguas Calientes Town for our trip back to Ollantaytambo. The service was again spectacular, but this time the agents added a fashion-show. They modeled various alpaca clothing that you could buy. (It was quite strange and funny.)

From Ollantaytambo we got back onto the VBT bus for the ride back to Cusco. Between the train and the bus, we were sitting for almost 5 hours.

The trip into Cusco was very different than the trip from the airport. We came in from the north-west and at various points we saw the city laid out in the valley. Cusco has 600,000 residents and for the first time from various viewpoints we saw the whole city spread out through the valley and up the slopes.

We got dropped off in the artisan section and we walked the narrow cobblestone streets of the old city to San Blas church. The attraction in the church was an elaborately carved pulpit. The Archdiocese in Lima has ruled that no photographs are allowed in any church. The image on the left is from online and from a time when you could take photographs inside a church. (The story the guide told us is that the Archdiocese is afraid thieves will come and steal the valuable artifacts if they are photographed and put where anybody and everybody can see the treasured housed in the Peruvian churches.)

San Blas was another over-the-top Spanish Baroque church. I haven’t liked any church I’ve seen. Everything is over-decorated, everything looks oppressive, extreme, gaudy, unrecognizable. Yes, the pulpit required a master carver. But Oh my God what happened to simple lines? What happened to form and function? It seems it’s all made to overwhelm to overpower.

A side note: According to tradition, while Blas/Blaise was being taken into custody, a distraught mother, whose only child was choking on a fishbone, threw herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched at her grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured.

On the feast-day of St. Blaise – February 3, the priest holds two burning candles in a crossed position over your head or on either side of your throat and gives the following blessing: “May Almighty God at the intercession of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, preserve you from infections of the throat and from all other afflictions”. This is supposed to keep you infection free for a year. (Note: You need to renew your blessing annually.)