While we didn’t party like crazy in Cusco as most travellers do, we did explore some of Cusco’s rocking night life. Hierba Buena makes some of the most beautiful drinks we’ve ever seen, although they tend to disappear very quickly.

The ambience of Bullfrogs can’t be beat; littered with bean-bags it’s probably one of the comfiest bars you could ever hope to pass out in. The bars in Cusco are definitely geared toward the gringo crowd, if you want to try something a little more local, ask a taxi driver to take you to La Rustica.

We were brought to Rustica by some of Calina’s Peruvian friends from another volunteer organization she was working with. We danced to samba, jungle, cumbia and pop remixes; and were the only gringos in sight. I like the way Peruvians drink: each person takes turns buying a giant bottle of beer, pouring it into the glasses of your friends as you all continue to dance. It’s the perfect way to make sure you never run out of cold beer!

Holy Week, the one leading up to Easter, is a huge celebration in Cusco. Parades and marching bands fill the streets. By far the biggest celebration is the procession for El Señor de los Temblores. In 16xx a series of  earthquakes devastated the city. After two days of tremors, this statue of Christ was brought from the Cathedral and paraded through the streets. The earthquakes stopped.

Now, each Semana Santa, the statue of Christ is paraded through the streets and showered with bright red flowers. Along with 10,000 other people, we stood in the streets for this celebration. It was a slow and cold parade. The weirdest part was when Christ re-entered the Cathedral and all the firetrucks in their city began simultaneously sounding their alarms.

Since arriving in South America, we have been hoping to see a football game and, during our last weekend in Cusco, we finally did. Alvaro brought Nicki, Clare, Calina and I to the stadium to see Cusco’s Cienciano play Juan Aurich from Chiclayo. This was the first professional football game we had ever seen.

We laughed at how quick the players were to drop to their knees in anguish at the slightest contact and how the fans jeered their own team almost more than they did the opposing one. Jeering in Latin America takes the form of whistling rather than boo’s. We learned a whole slew of new Spanish words from an enthusiastic fan behind us, who shouted things like “Ratero!” and “Ladron!” at the players and officials. We had so much fun just absorbing the experience that we didn’t mind that the game ended with no score.

After three weeks spent soaking in the Cusqueñan lifestyle, we had yet to get around to touring the ruins that make Cusco so famous. We sprang for the 70 sole tourist ticket that gives you access to the sights in and around Cusco, and then an extra 20 for a half-day tourist bus that shuttles you around the city to the sites on the ticket. To quote the Pink Mountaintops, I felt like a tourist in my town, but it was well worth it!

The comically pronounced Saqsayhuamán (try to figure it out), was by far the most extensive of the sites we saw. Believed to be a fortress, the zig-zag walls made it impossible for intruders to approach. The Spanish finally did and used the fortress’ rocks to build other structures in Cusco.

Qoricancha, the Temple of the Sun, was a fascinating example of how an invading civilization builds from the vestiges of the last. An ancient Incan temple can be seen enveloped by the walls of a Dominican church.

We saw three more archeological sites, Pucapucara–an Incan border crossing, Q’enko–a spot for sacrifices and quarrying, and Tambomachay–an Incan bath used for ceremonies.

There were many more sites on our tourist ticket that we could have explored but we were more interested in developing our new friendships, doing yoga and, generally, pretending that we weren’t tourists for a month. Cusco left a strong impression on us and we will never forget the friends that we left behind, hoping that someday our paths cross again!