Cycling in the mountains of Cusco
Global High School has arrived at our final destination, the Incan capital of Cusco, sometimes referred to as the Birthplace of the World. Walking down the cobbled streets and stopping to rest in the squares, it is easy to imagine that we are back in Europe. This seductive town has so much to see. However, this is our final week, exams are upon us and so students are attending those final classes, preparing for exams and working on their ISUs on top of the exploring that is such an integral part of GHS.
A group of students took some time off school work for the optional bike tour on Saturday. And what a bike tour this was! Luis and Jon picked us up in the afternoon and transported everyone up to the highest point in Cusco. The views were magnificent. We were able to see more clearly the Puma shape that Cusco was built in as well as to get a sense of the scale of this small city. The Centro Historico, where we are staying feels relatively small but the city itself is home to more than 400,000 inhabitants.
After suiting up, yes mom and dad, we do take safety very seriously, students hopped on their bikes and began the long descent into the city. A particularly challenging uphill section, especially at this altitude of approximately 3500m, prompted us to take a short break at a local handicrafts store. We learned about the various styles of wall hangings and pottery, tried on some baby alpaca sweaters and scarves and made a few purchases.
Then it was back on the bikes as we ventured further down the mountain. Our next stop was an scenic viewpoint overlooking the Cristo Blanco statue. This large figure of Christ with open arms is very similar to Christ the Redeemer in Rio, smaller but still very impressive. It was a gift from Arabic Palestinians who sought refuge in Cusco after WWII. The sun was beginning to set…it was an impressive sight.
More fun, though, was the photo shoot students had with a friendly alpaca who was grazing nearby. Luke, in particular, was a favourite as he and the alpaca cuddled. Luke even received a kiss from this charming animal.
Back on our bikes, off to another viewpoint, this time a church where we watched a bride and groom take their wedding photos. Finally, down into the streets of central Cusco followed by some of the ubiquitous local dogs. Picture, for a moment, cycling down a narrow cobblestone street, surrounded by tourists and residents out for an evening stroll as the sun sets. We successfully navigated the pedestrians and traffic to arrive back at our hotel with wonderful memories of our bike ride through Cusco.