Peru Expedition 2009 Part Two: Cuzco
26th July 2009
We arrived at Lima airport and most people were wearing hygienic masks: SWINE FLU!
Customs was fairly hectic as we had to pay airport tax and Paul got stopped for a long time. Once again we arrived just in time. We flew with LAN airlines (55 minutes long).
It was weird ascending through cloud and suddenly we broke through into the clear dark atmosphere. The sun rose while we were on board. We got given gross snacks!!
As we descended we saw the mountains: they were HUGE!! We flew alongside them for about 10-15 minutes. Fact: Peru has no hills, only mountains or flat turf.
The airport in Cuzco was tiny. We got off the plane and walked round through the airport to discover they only needed to move our stuff about 500 yards to the conveyor belt. It was 4 degrees Celsius.
Then we asked for taxi prices and we got two buses for S/25. Cuzco driving is much less dangerous.
We arrived at Plaza de Armas and split into groups to find accommodation and exchange money. Sophie, Imogen, Kagg, O'Sullivan and myself went to a few hostels. We finally got settled in a small place: the ten girls in five beds, the four guys their own. All fourteen of us are now in the girl's room waiting to have a whole group meeting at 12pm. $1 per swear word or use of the word 'spoon'.
After a meeting at 12pm we followed Maggie et tout to the plaza where we looked for a good restaurant within our budget of S/15 (£3ish) per head. We asked and bartered with a few men on the same street before settling for: Mia Pizzeria. The owner was great. Quinoa soup here is an orange/watery liquid with chopped up cooked veg: tasty! After we had eaten, a small band played very enthusiastically for us until we couldn't find any change between us - one of the Toms saved us by giving S/10.
We then split into two groups and went shopping. We found a great hippy shop with amazing jewellery.
Unfortunately Kagg had a bad stomach so we hurried back to the hostel. Just in time too because it started to rain! In the dry season!! Making sure Kagg was ok, everyone played UNO High School Musical 2 style. Libby got frightened by a turkey standing by the ledge above. Gurthej tried putting Ellen down in UNO - which then backfired in a second round due to a small tampering with the cards! (No, it wasn't me. I have no idea how to deceive in card games. I didn't write who did it).
One of the Toms then read the Bible to Kagg in the guys room.
I love how our group has great humour and we don't take it really seriously. Sophie read our palms. Mine was: four main loves, two kids, very long healthy life, no near death experience/s and quite successful! Yay! :P
*The turkey's tail feathers...
27th July 2009
Each day we rotated a role within the group. Today I was in charge of Security.
Fell asleep 9pm-ish and everyone woke up around 6am for the loo!! We then heard a turkey garble a few times and then what sounded like a llama - or Mr O yawning...
About half nine the group and O'Sullivan went to a market just outside the Plaza de Armas (the main square). It had smoothie bars, food bars and many other stalls of meat, fish, fruit, seeds and much more. The women would sit amongst all their goods in white or black top hats. We haggled for bread, oranges and bananas. There was also a stall with cures for different illnesses like frog body parts to cure epilepsy!! [Libby just bit Jo on the knee]. More gun fire. We then went to a supermarket for cheese and ham as no one trusted the mercado food. Moreton, Gurt and Andy bought some marijuana biscuits. Andy later tried to get us to finish them... and failed. Libby and Beth then boasted enthusiastically about their books. The girls all attempted diaries.
Breathing at this point is still difficult - we came back as though we had run a marathon, you can't seem to fill your lungs properly. During breakfast Jo called to the turkey, to which it replied and Sophie warbled and got a response too. Maggie and Paul arrived about half an hour later.
(6pm in the UK, midday here in Cuzco). I'm having to get used to saying 's' instead of 'th' when talking to locals (in Spanish). The market was like walking into a Dispatches episode on Channel 4! It was such an interesting experience (very smelly-sweet, gross, etc) but well worth it!! The bananas were orange on the inside! They tasted unripe...
*MOST ANNOYING TOPIC SO FAR: Gurthej: "Hannah, how d'you say ribs/turkey and ribs?"*
This afternoon we went to Sacsayhuaman - or as we called it 'Sexy Woman'. They said S/35 per person, per entry! So after a hard walk up there, we had to walk down and round some VERY steep steps and there also more of them! Everyone was shattered from that alone. We continued walking up til some of the ruins came into sight. We stopped near the top for lunch and surveyed the ruins of Sacsayhuaman: S/35 was way too much!
Nine of the girls - but poor Kagg - went shopping! First we looked for SWISSRAFT and then had some fun! I bought some colourful gloves for S/8 (originally S/10), earrings for S/4 (down from S/7), a necklace and also a pencil case [which by the way I still use today!]. It was very satisfying bartering for everything. One stubborn guy in the hippy shop became Sophie's match in stubbornness. He wouldn't - or couldn't - lower the prices of rings. We then went to a restaurant the girlies had found earlier where we had a good but tiring evening as we were still a bit jet-lagged. The lemonade wasn't as sweet as last night (fortunately) but it was more frothy. (Contents were: squeezed lemon juice with sugar and possibly water?).
28th July 2009
This morning most of us woke up with headaches around 7am. We exchanged some money today ($40 was S/118!!).
Today we sorted out food, transport and possibly accommodation for the trek as we go early (5am bus) in the morning the day after tomorrow.
I cannot believe it is only Day 4, it feels like we've been here much longer. Everyone else feels the same.
It sounds like the owner of this hostel has a farm upstairs as we have just heard either budgies or guinea-pigs chirruping coupled with the turkey. The woman is really batty. She rambles and talks to herself and also speaks quite quietly too. Peruvians generally seem to be quite quiet and even smaller than Spanish people too.
Beth, Hannah, O'Sully and I then went to the train station for train tickets back to Cuzco. We took a taxi to the station for S/4 (£1 per person) and then walked back - lots of frustration - getting lost several times. O'Sully then treated us to drinks and cake while everyone else took the food (including five kilos of Alpaca (Gurthej's choice) back to the hostel for lunch. The cake was great til half way. The four of us plus Jo then went to an Internet Cafe and traipsed around looking for transport companies, including our taxi drivers brother - who of course happened to own a restaurant at Machu Pichu! Beth and I were disappointed when we ran out of time for shopping.
This evening we went to a restaurant near the hippy shop and afterwards enjoyed the festivities of Peruvian Independence Day. We had a great laugh when Moreton and Gurt started a trend of piggy back racing down the side streets and others followed. Also two little girls trying to sell stuff wouldn't go away. Gurt and Andy picked them up and put them on the other side of the Plaza, but they were just as quick as them running back! Damn altitude!!
29th July 2009 - Role: Food.
We went horse riding this morning! My horse was called Solitario. He would only break into a slow trot when I wanted and then wouldn't stop.
We saw the Temple of the Moon and the Temple of Monkeys (both ruins) and had good climbs on both. The road to the Temple of Monkeys was like something out of a Pompeii or Gladiator movie.
We got to trot or canter on the way back and I just got my horse into a canter when Beths horse cow-kicked me! Not my horse, me! My lower leg was aching for about ten minutes but it was the disappointment that hurt more because my horse then refused to go back into a canter again :( It felt great to be back in the saddle though!
After our horse trek we walked back over Sacsayhuaman to the hostel. We then to the market to buy tomorrow's lunch and breakfast as well as other necessities.
We managed to book three restaurants in the end for dinner! I don't know if we went to any of them in the end. I went hyper on normal/fat man's Coke. Everyone was frantically last minute packing for the trek. I get to take a taxi to the bus station tomorrow while everyone else has to walk because my role will be Transport :P
Stay tuned for Part Three: The Salkantay Trek! :D