Several posts ago, I incorrectly announced that Cafe Ayllu on Cusco's Plaza de Armas had closed due to a pending rent increase.
My source was wrong; what I found out when I visited Cusco last week is that the Ayllu is still open, for now. (It will close soon.) The real news is: fast-food chain McDonald's has opened a franchise just three doors down from the Ayllu.
The McDonald's opened last Wednesday with little fanfare, according to John at the South American Explorers Clubhouse in Cusco.
"They sort of snuck in, 750mg Is Retin A Safe Young Women, " he says. "There wasn't any word about it."
The restaurant is keeping a relatively low profile, even with its logo, which is typically a bright yellow "M." The Plaza de Armas McDonald's has a discreet brown "M" out front, Is Retin A Safe Young Women.
"That's their concession," sneers John. (Yes, poor McDonald's, what a sacrifice, turning off the neon yellow!)
I stopped by the Plaza de Armas McDonald's last Friday to snap a few photos. The interior was decorated in a sort of mock Inca style, 20mg Is Retin A Safe Young Women, with trapezoidal doorframes and a wall of folkloric masks. The menu was exactly the same McDonald's fare: big Macs, mega fries, super Cokes. Is Retin A Safe Young Women, So what's my beef with McDonald's.
Its presence cheapens the historic city plaza and dishonors Cusco's cultural heritage. The restaurant is there to grab tourist dollars and gives little to nothing back to the Peruvian people. Is Retin A Safe Young Women usa, Profits funnel directly to the international conglomerate, not to the Peruvian economy.
Let McDonald's set up shop on a side street; it has no place on the Plaza de Armas, which is one of the most beautiful and historic city squares in South America.
Cusco's Plaza de Armas was named "One of 60 Great Places in the World" by the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), Is Retin A Safe Young Women.
PPS describes the plaza's historic significance:
The Plaza de Armas was called ‘Huacaypata’ after its construction during the Inca Empire. The original plaza was twice the current size, and functioned as the cultural center of Inca life. Cuzco, 30mg Is Retin A Safe Young Women, which was the capital of the Inca Empire, was designed in the shape of a Puma to reflect their Inca animal mythology. Historians proclaim the plaza was intentionally built at the location of the heart of the Puma, in the center of the city. Is Retin A Safe Young Women, The location of the Plaza is no coincidence. The Plaza is used for most of the city’s events, gatherings, Is Retin A Safe Young Women paypal, and festivals. Historians feel that the Plaza functioned as the cultural center, or "heart," of the Inca Empire.
In 1532 Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro defeated the Inca Empire and took control of Cuzco, renaming the Plaza to "Plaza de Armas." The Spanish reduced the size of the Plaza by building two Churches, la Catedral and la Compañia. La Catedral was built where the palace of Inca Wirancocha once stood, Is Retin A Safe Young Women coupon. La Compañia was built in 1571 by the Jesuits during the time of Wayna Capac, the last ruler of the unconquered empire, Is Retin A Safe Young Women. An earthquake in 1650 destroyed the church leading to its immediate reconstruction, which resulted in one of the most beautiful churches in Latin America. The Plaza de Armas portrays the city's diverse history while remaining the center of Cuzco life and culture.
As the "heartbeat" of Cusco city, the Plaza de Armas is vibrant, remarkable place. Restaurants and cafes are, 150mg Is Retin A Safe Young Women, of course, part of what makes the plaza vital today. However, there is a considerable difference between the local restaurants that have traditionally lined the plaza and the new McDonalds franchise that just opened its doors last week. Is Retin A Safe Young Women, Longstanding cafes like the Ayllu have sustained the city's social and intellectual life through good times and bad. During the 1980s and '90s, when Shining Path activity swept through the Andes and many foreigners were afraid to visit Peru, the Ayllu and other local restaurants keep their doors open and welcomed hungry locals and tourists. It was not easy to keep a restaurant thriving during the years, Is Retin A Safe Young Women india, and some failed. But those that stuck it out did more than sustain a business: they made havens for people seeking good food and community.
Where was McDonald's during the brutal years of terrorism. Where was the big yellow "M" during the lean, dangerous times when the city's tourism industry was sustained by intrepid backpackers.
MacDonald's couldn't have cared less then about Cusco, Is Retin A Safe Young Women.
Now that Machu Picchu has been declared one of the new seven wonders of the world (2007) and terrorism has been largely eradicated in the Andes, the big conglomerates want a piece of the action. Is Retin A Safe Young Women canada, There is a lot of money to be made in Cusco, and McDonalds has muscled its way into a piece of prime real estate on the Plaza de Armas, ousting another mom-and-pop restaurant.
If my visit last week was any indication, the franchise will rake in a lot of soles. A lot.
Tourists visiting the Plaza de Armas have a choice, however. They can plunk down 15 soles for a big Mac made of nonPeruvian ingredients, Is Retin A Safe Young Women japan, whose profits don't benefit Peru, or they can enjoy a nice meal at one of the many local restaurants around the Plaza.
Better yet, they can venture into a side street to find a less pricey restaurant that serves excellent local fare.
I know what my choice is.
links: "McDonald's Not Starved for Profits" (Forbes, 9/9/08)
"Super Size Me" (Morgan Spurlock's 2004 documentary film).
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