Our first day
Before we left for Lima I was advised not to buy our tickets to Cusco until we land. This was great advice. The tickets cost $100 less when we were in Peru than at home. While in Lima we visited a few travel agencies hunting for a good price. We met one travel agent who was also willing to give us some pretty good advice on how to handle the altitude changes. She told us to take it super SLOW to prevent altitude sickness. We’re thinking take a nap upon arrival. No, stay seated, wait to get your bags down, don’t rush, let everyone pass you, walk in slow motion, let the sky caps get your bags, don’t run and hug the person greeting you, and sleep all day. Unfortunately she wanted cash for the ticket and I just couldn’t do that – our travel insurance is through my Amex card. We appreciated the great advice.
We broke through the clouds over Lima and saw the sun again. Within 30 minutes or so while flying above the clouds snow-capped mountains began to peak through. Then we began seeing a patch work of various colored green mountains and valleys. Simply breath-taking. Upon our decent we could see Cusco the “Magic City”.
We got off the plane and followed the advice of the travel agent taking everything slow. Grabbed our bags and oops. Here we go again. The same bag that got lost now has a whole gashed in it about the size of a golf ball. The sky-cap took us out to meet our “mom” Edith and then walked us back over to the check-in area to talk about the bag. Edith helped a lot, but they still wouldn’t take responsibility because the bag was overweight. See that’s why I insisted on using my Amex card to pay for the ticket. (Get travel insurance people). I got the report the bag was damaged for my insurance claim and we were off to Edith’s house.
As soon as we arrived we were offered coca tea. Tea made of the leafs from the same plant that cocaine is derived from. It helps prevent altitude sickness, which can be pretty bad I understand. Edith showed us the doorbell to her room and insist we ring it at anytime if we are sick, and showed us the dry eraser board where we are to leave a message if we are not going to eat at home or will be gone for an extended amount of time. We kept still for most of the day.That evening we ate dinner with the house family and a couple that own a home-stay near Manchu Pichu called Yellow River. At this point Mariella – a girl from Norway, Michael from NY, and Guy from California were guest. Mariella was leaving the next day to go to Yellow River so we met up with her to go salsa dancing that evening against all previous advice. We weren’t filling sick so I contacted Sonia my facebook friend, and we took the so we took the 15 min hike to Plaza de Armas. Met up with Mariella and Michael for salsa dancing, and ordered a Pisco Sour of course. Less than 10 minutes later my head felt funny and Matthew and I were too tired to sit down. So we took a cab back home for 4 soles (2.74 sol = $1.00). We’ve been here for over a week now and I’m still find myself catching my breath now and then.
Cusco is definitely a world of old meets new. The new buildings are on top of Incan built stones, there are older woman walking around in traditional garb, there are men in business suits, the babies are swaddled in traditional natural dyed alpaca fabric, there are Shaman stores, there are discotecs, and the curbs are made for the 6′ + Incans that used to walk these streets. We are in Cusco’s winter right now – it’s cold at night (say 30 degrees), hot in the sun (85) and cold (50/60) in the shade during the day. I have found myself taking my poncho off and putting it back on while eating breakfast on a balcony as the sun plays hide and seek behind the clouds. This place is full of character and culture. Museums are everywhere. There are parades everyday all day (all day because we are in the middle of a week-long celebration – see previous post with article). As you walk the streets there are tourism companies and people standing outside of them offering you there services to book a trip to Manchu Pichu or the jungle. There are hippies/backpackers everywhere with blond hair and dreadlocks. There is also a new girl ever 30 seconds or so offering “Senor/ Senorita massage, manicure, pedicure”. Following her someone will show you there restaurants menu. But once you step away from the retail shops and restaurants you can take it all in. Just look up and there are the mountains. Some are speckled with tiny houses, and some with farmers fields. All have been traveled by the ancient Inca all have been made by God.
To be continued … (more about the celebration/parades, our tours, and the people)