A South American First!

Hola!

It’s been about two weeks since I got back from Peru, and I have been busy! So, I apologize for taking so long to write a post about it. Let’s start at the beginning shall we?

For someone who doesn’t like to fly, I picked a pretty indirect route to get to Peru. From Chiang Mai, I went to Seoul, South Korea. This has to be the nicest airport I’ve ever been to! They provide free showers, sleeping lounges, internet and massage chairs. For having an eight-hour layover here, I was extremely comfortable. Then, I had another flight through Los Angeles, a not so pleasant place. I haven’t been in a western country of any sort for over a year, and I can’t imagine how I would have felt had I left the airport. They talk about “reverse culture shock” and I think I’m in for a brutal reality when I get back into westernized life. Anyway, from Los Angeles I went to Lima, Peru… waited a few hours and caught the first plane to Cuzco, Peru.

Cuzco, Peru

After an epic journey of nearly two days’ worth time, I finally landed in the Cuzco airport. A happy airport greeting and taxi ride later, I arrived at our hostel for the next (approximate) week. Chief and Si had arrived a day or so before me and sorted out the hostel and my arrival, and the legendary Si had planned our trip to Machu Picchu later that week (more to come!). We had a couple days to blow through before their friend Jack was to meet up with us, so we spent it catching up, wandering around the city, visiting the chocolate museum and being very forgiving about Lindsey’s 12-hour jet lag. Since Cuzco has an elevation of just over 11,000 feet, they recommend giving yourself a few days to adjust. This was definitely needed. Even after a few days of it, we were still having headaches and getting short of breath quite quickly. Finally, Jack arrived and the adventures really began. We all got a boleto touristico (tourist ticket) that allowed us to visit all the main attractions in Cuzco (and a couple of the ruins outside of town) for a flat fee. This turned out to be doubly convenient because the (not so informative) tourist company we booked our Machu Picchu trip through failed to inform us that we needed this to go on the tour we signed up for and it wasn’t included in the price. Nevertheless, we went on a couple days’ worth of sightseeing around town. During this time, I fell ill and had to ditch the crew a late afternoon/evening. Fortunately, I was better enough to go on the next day to the ruins just outside the city and the following day we were leaving for Machu Picchu.

This is the main plaza the night I arrived in Cuzco.

It was cold there, so we were always blowing our noses.

I got to hold a baby alpaca!

…I also ate alpaca… turns out it’s delicious!

Hanging out at Saqsaywaman. Big, old rocks.

Machu Picchu

The trip to get to Aguas Calientes (the city where Machu Picchu is) was a bit of a palaver. We had signed up for a trip that would take us on a tour of a couple sites along the way, give us a free buffet lunch and then drop us off in Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. We booked for four, but they booked a van that only had enough room left for three of us. So, after about 45 minutes of a wait for a van that would never come, the woman we were with shoved us into a small taxi and squeezed into the back seat with us. Yes, we were riding with four in the back seat for about an hour along a winding mountain road. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. Finally, we caught up with a big tour group and were on our way to Pisaq, Ollantaytambo and finally Aguas Calientes.

This is us crammed in the backseat trying to catch up with a tour group…

Once we arrived in Aguas Calientes, we were on the search for someone with a sign holding Chief’s name on it. Thinking ahead, the boys decided to shorten his name to “James Gott,” but nobody was there waiting for a James, rather someone was waiting for a “Hames Gott.” I suppose it makes sense if you are pronouncing the ‘J’ in Spanish, as it makes the sound of “H,” but we found it funny anyway. The lady led us to her hostel in Aguas Calientes, and after a brief meeting with our tour guide for the next day, we were off in search of cheap dinner and turned in early since we had an early rise.

paging Hames Gott!

The next day, we were downstairs for breakfast at 5am so we could walk up to Machu Picchu in time for our tour. We were given one bus ticket for the entire trip and decided to use it to come back from Machu Picchu to maximize our time on the mountain. Thus began an hour and a half hike up the mountain to get to Machu Picchu… well, an hour and a half for me, anyway. The boys are much quicker than I am. Nonetheless, we made it in time for our tour. Because mountains surround Machu Picchu, there’re a lot of clouds that get caught there in the mornings. We got some pretty cool photos as they were disappearing. The guys had booked us to hike up a nearby mountain, Waynapicchu. I’m not a fan of heights, so to say I was scared is an understatement. Luckily, with some moral support from Chief and Si too far ahead to scare me, I made it to the top and we were greeted with some fantastic views of the ancient Inca city.

This is just after the clouds made way…. The mountain in the distance is Waynapicchu….

Here I am at the top of Waynapicchu with Machu Picchu in the background. I would not get closer to the edge because it was a straight drop to death.

A panoramic of Machu Picchu for you..

Here is an alpaca (or is it a llama?) at Machu Picchu.

Finally, we headed back to Aguas Calientes to make sure we made the train to Ollantaytambo in time. After the train, we had to catch a van to Cuzco and were, once again, greeted to a sign that was not “James Gott,” but “Yanet Jott.” That was a little more difficult to figure out, but we made it back to Cuzco just in time to miss the window for a bus to Lima. Another night, a sick day (again..) and a trip to the bus station infirmary for Lindsey later and we were on the (nearly 24 hour) bus to Lima.

Lima, Peru

We arrived in Lima sometime mid-afternoon and headed to our hostel, Royal Backpackers. The owner is named Jesus, and he’s definitely a saint in our book. He was the nicest hostel owner and made sure we felt at home and had a good time. This was the last leg of my trip with the guys, so we decided we wanted to go all out. We had a days worth of sightseeing in Lima, some shopping, a nice steak/rib and wine dinner and Peruvian nightlife. This post is already a novella, so I think I’ll just post photos from Lima, now!

This is the Plaza de Armas.

We had ourselves a picnic on the steps of a church just across from the Plaza de Armas.

A delicious Peruvian meal and a table set for lefties!

Alas, the fun had to come to an end. We were told that it only took 15 minutes to get to the airport. FALSE. It took nearly an hour and I almost missed my flight! That would have been a pricey mistake. I had such a great time with the guys, it was hard to leave! I would have continued traveling with them if I could. But, it’s not the last time. As always, there’s another country in our future!

If you want to see more photos, I’ve posted them on my facebook! If you made it through this post, congrats! I’ll give you a high five next time I see you.

Until next time…. xx

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