The inocentes, peruano style

20 May

I have been looking forward to visiting Peru (and, subsequently, Machu Picchu), since before Greg and I even talked about moving to Colombia. To me, Machu Picchu is a place that I knew that I must visit in my lifetime, and it wasn’t a question of “if” but “when”. Thus, when we began to entertain the idea of moving to Colombia and traveling from there, I knew that Peru would be at the very top of the shortlist of places to visit. It’s slightly ironic that though Peru was at the top of that shortlist, it is the last country we’re visiting, and just a few weeks before we return to the US.

We began our trip to Peru flying from Medellín to Lima. From Lima, we had another nightmare layover (11PM to 530AM) before heading to Cusco. The layover somehow felt like one of the longest of my life. Considering that we’ve spent a few nights on the floor of Bogotá’s airport, I think that’s saying something.

Early, early, early we arrived in Cusco, running on two hours’ sleep and arriving too early in the day (8AM) to make sense of ourselves or to formally check into our room at our hotel. Neither of us were much fun, and I wondered if we would be able to rally and turn the day around. We were so snappy and tired, I worried that we wouldn’t get anything done. And believe you me, we had a lot to plan.

Mercifully, our luck had a slight turn and we were able to move into our room early-ish and take a much needed nap. I think the real clincher, though, was a delicious lunch; we had skipped breakfast and were totally out of sorts. From there we set out to explore Cusco.

And what a lovely city. The colonial architecture, the striking backdrop of the mountains and then the sky—wildly blue, pock-marked with bright white clouds—all compounded to something striking.

When we first ventured out of our hotel, we were slap-happy and goofy. We went to buy tickets to Machu Picchu (train, site entry, etc) but were so haphazardly put together we forgot our passports and had to return to our hotel and run back to the ticket offices. We were a mess, but we were happy.

We strolled, we shopped, we snapped photos all afternoon. The altitude didn’t even bother me until we stopped for our first drink and then trudged uphill—that’s a mistake that doesn’t bear repeating. Most importantly, though, we got our acts together for our visit to Machu Picchu, which required that we make sure there was space available on the trains to/from the site and tickets available to the site on the day we were visiting.

Cusco’s beauty aside, the place is a bit lousy with salesmanship. Everyone you pass on the street is trying to sell you something, from souvenirs to custom trips. It was reminiscent of our time on Playa Blanca off of Cartagena, where you could not get a moment’s rest amid the din of people trying to sell you jewelry, massages, ceviche, booze and the like. While it can be a bit frustrating at times (eg: when you and your husband are trying to share a moment over some delicious pisco sours and a man comes up to you trying to sell you Ray Bans that he insists are good quality because “they are stolen” and also if you want he can totally hook you up with cocaine, marijuana, etc), at the end of the day everyone’s trying to make a living.

We spent a quiet night in Cusco before rising early and making our way to quaint Ollantaytambo in order to catch our train to Machu Picchu. Somehow we planned our first few days in such a way that we must rise very, very early (between 4-530AM every day). I’m secretly looking forward to getting back to Medellín so that I can sleep past 6.

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One Response to “The inocentes, peruano style”

  1. Lea Anthony May 21, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    With all the tourists flooding into Cusco it is not surprising that ther would be an army of people trying to sell stuff.

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