Another early morning, but well worth it as we are leaving on our next adventure. Today we leave Lima ( coastal city) and fly to Cusco ( highest city in Latin America, if not the world sitting at around 12,000 ft above sea level. Dan and I started our Altitude medication yesterday, so are hoping not to have too many problems in the Andes!
Our drive to the airport was exciting, as expected! I’ve never seen such aggressive drivers in my life! And the way the bus drivers manoeuvre these big machines through this maze is truly remarkable.
We got checked in and said our goodbyes to Sabastion, our Lima guide. When we got to our gate, we discovered our Galapagos family friends Jeanine and Louise were on our flight as well and carrying on to the Amazon from Cusco! It makes me wonder how our other “family” members are doing? Sonya, Emily, Ana, Sarah, Corine and Jete have all gone separate ways… perhaps if they read this they can send us a comment to let us know they’re ok!
On the plane and of to Cusco we went. Flying over the Andes it’s hard to imagine an area long enough to land and airbus 320, but sure enough this furtive valley opened up and we landed in the heart of it! Landing strip gets priority over homes and buildings!
We all got our bags and boarded our private bus to our hotel. It’s a lovely spot in the heart of the old city… and yes, it’s on a hill! We got our room, and then off to lunch! We chose a restaurant chain also started by “Gastón” called PaPaCho’s. The most amazing burger place I’ve ever eaten in!
(Sorry, this shot is for the gluten free crowd!)
After lunch it was back to the hotel to meet our guide, Ali. She gave us a brief orientation about the next couple of days ( tonight at 7, we meet Henry, our Inca Trail guide) and then took us on a brief city tour
Cusco means navel, and the Inca’s felt that from this fertile valley, they were at the centre of the earth. As we walked up and down the cobbled streets we saw Inca Walls that have survived multiple earthquakes ( interesting fact that during the reign of the ninth king, the construction evolved to this extraordinary level where they were even adding molten metal “T’s” into the craved bottom of the stones, known as stapling). Pretty advances for a mountain civilization in the 15th century! The walls were built with a 13degree incline and all windows and doors were trapezoidal!
On we went to the main square where we saw the Cathedral which was built upon the foundation of an Incan Temple. ( when the Spanish invaded in 1535, they destroyed the main religious buildings and built churches to try to drive away the pagan influences.
Today was a special day for the children of Cusco as it is Halloween! Yes they have adopted this holiday, but all the children are brought to the city centre where vendors hand out candy, face painters add a final touch to costumes, and chaos reigns with traffic and the crowds.
Our next stop is the market! It reminded me a bit of the grand bazaar in Istanbul, but it was a little more rustic! You could buy anything from homemade Peruvian food the fruit, flowers, clothing, bread and meats ( including offal and bulls penises! The latter are believed to relieve menopausal symptoms if boiled in a soup and eaten!!!)
One other item were special breads made for children to be given on All Saints Day. We are heading to a small farming community tomorrow, so we bought a “baby” for a girl, and a “horse” for a boy. I’m looking forward to giving these out on our visit!!
Our next stop was the Choco museum where once again we learned about the process of making chocolate and were treated to samples and a lovely chocolate tea. The best though was the hot chocolate at the end of the tour!
Back to the hotel we went so that the 8 of us doing the Inca Trail could meet our guide and get our briefing. It sounds like it will be an amazing trip!!! We were given our duffle in which were could our 6 kg… my first attempt weighed 9kg, so some culling was in order. Finally Dan and I got our duffels down to the correct weight!