Still in Cusco

29 Dec 2004
Cusco, Peru

Lou Tells me that my last entry was somewhat negative, and I guess it was. I was getting a little tired of the hassle of the street vendors, kids, etc. We decide to get out of the city, and it’s one of the best ideas Lou’s had.

On the 28th, a Tuesday, we get a somewhat late start, since it is, after all, vacation. We decide we’re going to a place called Pisac, in an area called the Sacred Valley. There is a town at the bottom, and after a steep climb is an inca citadel. About 11 a.m., we start looking for the bus to take us to Pisac. We see quite a few other tourist wandering around, so we figure it must be close, but can’t find it. We grab lunch and figure if we can’t find it soon, we’ll either take a taxi, or just forget it. Well, we ask for directions, but still can’t find it (really should have taken spanish in school.) So we find a Taxi willing to take us there. We agree on a price, or so we think ($5/US, which seems fair, maybe even a little cheap.) After a relatively long ride, the guy screws us, just like almost every god damned taxi driver we’ve come across. I try talk Lou into finding him later and beating him until he can’t walk, but he won’t go along with it. I think he needs to watch more Sopranos.

Anyway, after getting screwed once again, we come to the path up the hill. It’s a pretty steep path – I think it’s 5KM/3.1 Miles up, and 1800 feet of elevation gain. It’s a pretty amazing place, and I’m glad we went. Some of the work that went into this general area is amazing. There are a huge number of terraces built into the hillsides. An amazing amount of work must have gone into this. Eventually, we get to a large flat area with a bunch of building, and I wonder how they got the stones up there. It’s a pretty steep climb, and there are thousands of stones that must have been carted somehow. The incas didn’t have much in the way of pack animals – just the llamas and alpacas. We take a short break and head back up to the top of this whole thing. From the top, there is an amazing view of the valley, and the terraces around. This is also the site of a citadel, which must have given a commanding view of the valley, and been unassailable. Some of the footpaths are quite narrow, at least for my taste, and lead to steep drops. About the time we get to the top, a couple of busloads of German tourist is dropped off, but luckily this is about the time we are done. One of the tourist, a Hungarian woman, takes quite a shining to Lou, but other than her talking to him haltingly, nothing happens, other than me having something to make fun of him about. I only do it because I’m jealous. Even without that, it’s still one of the best days I’ve had travelling. I got to go hiking with a good friend, and to take a lot of pictures.

We find a taxi to take us back to Cusco, and make sure it’s written down, and agreed upon a couple of times before we get in. This taxi is a death trap – it’s a Daewoo Tico, as are most of the taxis herre. Going up some of the hills, we end up poking along at 20 or 30 miles an hour. But, true to his word, it’s only S/40, or about $12/US. That’s fair for an almost hour long taxi ride. But now I can’t say that all taxi drivers in Peru are crooks.

On the ride to the hike, I, for the first time, wished I was on my motorcycle. The roads were pretty good, and some of them were very curvy. In some of the pictures you can see the roads I’m talking about.

We get back just before 6 p.m., and I take a short nap. Lou and I are both beat, but it’s good because we survived, so we can probably do the Inca trail OK. I upload my pictures, and look through them after I wake up, take a quick shower, and it’s time to head out for food. We are both really tired, so finding a place to eat is somewhat difficult. We go back to the place we first had dinner – the Cuy and Alpaca. It was a decent dinner, but there was a table of eight very loud Americans on the other side of the room. It made for a somewhat difficult dinner. We’re tired, and we have to speak pretty loud to hear each other. I’m not a loud person, and I don’t think Lou is either, and we agree that we hate loud people. Dinner was quite good – I had a pizza, Lou had alpaca again (I think he’s getting addicted.) I also had a local corn beer called Chicha, which dates to Inca times. It was really, really good. I don’t know the alcohol content, so I only have one. I could have had six or seven – they were great.

After dinner, we go have a drink at Norton’s again. For some reason I’m drinking a Cusco Libre, which is Pisco and Coca Cola (and ice, for the roulette you sometimes play.) A couple of these, and I’m talking non-stop. I don’t really drink caffeine, and in retrospect, I shouldn’t have, if for no other reason than I talked Lou’s ear off. Maybe to get someplace louder than me, Lou wants to go to a Disco – check it out and check out the beautiful people. A couple of notes about this place. Apparently they have happy hour all day long. When we’ve run the gauntlet in front, it’s always happy hour. Always. There was a british guy we met a couple of days ago. He had a story about him and two friends meeting these girls there and going back to their hotel, where they were given roofies, or something similar. They woke up with their wallets missing. I’ve always heard that roofies help you get lucky, but every time I’ve tried them, I’ve woken up and can’t remember anything. Knowing these tidbits, we had some curiosity going into the place. It was cheesy. Lou likened it to a Ohio State college bar. I was pretty easily the oldest (and grayest) guy there, with Lou a close second. It was interesting watching the crowd. There was a group of six or seven (very sexy) tourist women dancing with each other. We got to watch as guys gathered around these girls, the prey, and slowly worked themselves into the crowd. A little while later, you’d see one of the guys peel off and buy a drink for one of the girls he was hoping to cull from the herd. The girls would occasionally go see a seated friend, and you’d watch the guy she was dancing with come, but not quite all the way up. It was like watching animals. Some guys were better dancers, some were more generous with the alcohol, and I’m pretty sure they all went home empty handed. Or at least alone.

After one drink, we leave and head home, stopping at a bar called Mandela’s place for one last drink. It was a nice change – very low key, and, best of all, we scored a great topographical map of the Cusco area. Given such a late start, when we got home, it was almost 1 a.m., and we were both beat.

The next day, Wednesday, we’ve got errands to do to before our trip to Machu Picchu, thing such as another battery for my camera and tickets for the next place we’re going. It’s a pretty uneventful day, other than getting stuck in a museum because of the rain. We’re going to get a flight to Arequipa, and we want to schedule it for the day after we get back if we can. Luckily, we don’t get screwed by any taxi drivers today, but we can’t find the tour agency we booked our Inca Trail trip with. Hopefully, they are still around. We probably shouldn’t have booked it out of the back of a van. We’re getting ready to head out and pay for the tickets we got to Arequipa, and to get a few last minute items.

Here are the pictures. Enjoy!!

One Comment

  1. I’m looking out the window here, 5th and Battery – the monorail is running again. It’s dark, and my cubicle is illuminated by a star I got from a vendor for Christmas. It’s the same view I have everyday – so enjoy the sights and try not to have your livers stolen.

    Good luck on the big hike!
    Cheers and happy new year!

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