What a day! I woke up at 5:50am and went straight back to the airport in Lima, except this time, I had Kurstin by my side! We made it through the “Battlefield of the Roundabout”, where drivers attempt to ram into one another, yet somehow are unsuccessful. They are extremely successful in convincing passengers that this is their last day on earth – what jokesters. We took a one-hour flight to Cusco, accompanied by an extremely attractive seatmate in 16E– that was a nice surprise. You’ll be happy to know, I only stared for the first 5 minutes. Then spent the rest of the flight trying to get Kurstin to make a move.
Once we landed in Cusco, we got a taxi to our hostel called, Loki. We have a dorm style room with three bunk beds, there’s a bar, travel office, and a weekly party/events schedule. The agenda for tonight is to not die of altitude sickness and possibly get one beer from the bar before passing out.
We spent the day walking around the “Plaza de Armas”, a very famous plaza that had 2 beautiful churches front and center. The light in the plaza was gorgeous. It was a beautiful day and all of our selfies looked professional. I took in the scenery eyeing the churches hovering along the outside of the plaza oozing history and mystery. Dark clouds could be seen to the west, and a tall cross standing at the top of the hill, looking down at all us little people. It always amazes me the authenticity of a beautiful culture woven throughout space and time, and yet, America always creeps in when the tourists are around! I’m talking Starbucks, KFC, Hilton hotels, and all the menus listed in Spanish/English. But, no problem, no problem, c’est la vie!
We avoided anything that reminded us of our motherland and went straight for the Peruvian food. For lunch, I ordered lomo saltado, a steak dish with rice and papas (aka fries). Don’t tell Kurstin, but that lomo saltado was swimming in soy sauce. There’s also a sauce called ahí, which is a grounded red chili paste that you can use to dip fries in, it wasn’t too bad. And then of course a Peruvian beer to round out the meal.
The one thing I would say that really surprised me we’re all the people really hustling their goods. Literally every conversation I had would get interrupted by someone selling jewelry, dolls, sunglasses, yarn llamas, shoe shines, and even bringing baby lambs around for pictures!! I can’t lie; I took a pic with the baby lamb. At first, the lamb was wiggling around, his legs dangerously close to clocking me in the face, but I prevailed, and got the pic!
We wandered down the steepest hills imaginable, dreading the walk back up, but all in all, it was a beautiful day. We eventually napped for a couple hours and then went to our short travel meeting about Macchu Picchu! We lost our first member to the dreaded altitude sickness, and it wasn’t me. That night, I was bundled in two jackets, hat, gloves, and a scarf, huddled down in my blankets trying to keep warm during the night. Believe me, if I could have made a fire under the covers with two sticks, you would have seen smoke embers slipping out of my bed. I didn’t know the Sierras were basically NYC in winter. Then again, I’ve been told I can be a little dramatic. Alas, Machu Picchu is tomorrow, and it’s about to be epic. Adventure continues….