Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | August 9, 2018

Peru-ving Myself A Traveler Again: Entry #2

Though I wasn’t yet in Peru at the time of my last entry, after many days and airports and planes and a few hiccups, I have arrived in Peru. I am currently sitting on my bed in my cozy and cute room at the Midori Hotel in Cuzco, not far from the main square. But let me rewind a moment to how I got here.

From Calgary, I flew to Texas on Monday, where I arrived, got my bags, got checked into my hotel and quickly change so I could call myself an Uber (for the very first time) and make my way from Humble (where the airport is located) into Houston proper. There, I met up with a friend from my University of Edinburgh days. Katie suggested we meet at Picos, a “Tex Mex (Texan Mexican) Houston institution”, and I’m very glad we did. We an excellent catch up over fajitas and margaritas, since we hadn’t seen each other in person since September 2005! It was lovely to meet up and I definitely hope we get a chance to visit again in future!

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The busy main square in Cuzco, surrounded by mountains.

As ever when I have a plane to catch, sleeping becomes difficult, and I had to get up early to be at the airport for six.  I’d upgraded myself to business class for the leg to Cancun, so I had a nice breakfast and lots of room, but it wasn’t a super long flight and I didn’t manage to sleep. And then came the hiccups. I got to Mexico and filled out my little entry and exit form, but then it got lost, likely while my bags were being searched (I think my sunscreen looked like undeclared alcohol on the scanner or something.) But I didn’t find this out until I’d raced to find a shuttled only to be told the shuttle to my terminal had just gone and I was cutting it close on the three hour check in between countries. I let myself get hustled into a $50 US ride that did not, as advertised, take me 20 minutes to get to the terminal. It took five. I’m not sure if it is because of airport transport rules (only one company is allowed, not regular cabs) or whether I just was had, because that seems very steep. Regardless, the best was yet to come – I couldn’t check in without the exit form, lost somewhere in the other terminal.  My stress levels shot through the roof.

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A fun fountain in the square

Fortunately, replacing it was actually fairly easy, though the tiny slip of paper cost me another $32 US. And, as my lovely friend the Dolphin Whisperer has said to me a few times before, sometimes the cheapest way to pay for something is with money. Between the heat of the day, the lack of sleep, the adrenaline crash, though, by the time I was through security and waiting at my gate (for a good hour, so there wasn’t a need for a rush), I felt miserable. I got by on ginger chews I’d stashed to stave off altitude sickness nausea and a bottle of water until I was finally in the plane, but by then my body had completely stopped regulating my temperature properly. I spent most of the flight from Cancun to Lima melting ice against my skin to try to cool down.

Arriving in Peru was a little better, though my bag was one of the last off the plane so I had a moment of worry there. But it came, so I happily patted it and booked it to check it in before heading to the airport hotel, fortunately right across the street, to the chagrin of the 10 or so people who asked if I needed a taxi. It was 10 o’clock by that time, and I had only four hours before I had to get up. I had to decline the complimentary drink at the hotel (Wyndam Costa Del Sol). It’s expensive but very nice and well worth it for the convenience alone. I’ve booked it again for the way back, and hopefully will get at least twice the sleep of this round, because it took me forever to fall asleep even though the room was cool and comfortable. Some of it was the honking (right across from the airport has its drawbacks too) but mostly it was nerves and not being able to cool down.

Fortunately, my check in to Cuzco went fairly smoothly, and I was able to nap on the plane so I wasn’t a complete wreck once greeted by Fredi of Machu Picchu Latin America Tours at the airport: part of the package of my tour was airport pickup. Fredi had been in contact and kindly booked me an extra day at the Midori Hotel, so after eating some of the breakfast I crashed for a few blissful hours before getting up and doing a little (slow) exploration around the city square. I’d had my coca leaf tea with breakfast and was feeling pretty good about the altitude and breathing, but didn’t want to push it.

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It’s just so pretty here, and so different from home.

Guys, Cuzco is so beautiful, I felt like crying for some reason. From the buildings rising up the mountain side to the incredible architecture – it’s so gorgeous. I wish I could describe it better, but I’m still not at 100% and feeling jet lagged despite being out just one timezone because of the mess I made of my sleep pattern this week. I went through a really beautiful church with a huge carved altar. No pictures allowed, unfortunately, so you’ll just have to take my word it is worth the 10 soles (roughly three Canadian dollars) entry fee to walk around the Iglesia De La Compañia De Jesús. After that, I had some soup (a quinoa broth with egg and veggies) at Incanto, did a little more exploring around the square, then went back to the hotel to drink more coca tea. I chilled here for a bit before making my way to dinner at Ceviches where I ate – you guessed it – ceviche. It was very, very good. I didn’t finish my plate (or my bowl of soup earlier, for that matter) as jet lag (or whatever this is) tends to throw my appetite off, but it was very good, as was the Chicha Morado I had at both places. It’s a purple corn-based drink, at it was delicious. I’ll be sure to try some of the other local drinks at some point, but for now I’m sticking with the non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated to help keep from getting altitude sickness. Cuzco is nearly 3400 metres above sea level, and I definitely felt it tonight walking back up the hill after dinner.  It will take a day or two to get used to the difference in the oxygen, but so far it isn’t anything I can’t handle. And if there’s nausea and a bit of a headache, well… I’m actually pretty sure my flights did most of the damage. Still, I’m taking it slow and making sure to rest tonight as my body adjusts. I have to go to sleep soon anyway so I can  have breakfast before my pick up to head on the first tour bit of this adventure – onward to the Sacred Valley! But first, onward to dreamland!

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