Stuffing our faces with all the free food that would fit in them seemed like a good idea before we returned to Cusco airport. We were again following the directions of LAN Peru and their request to arrive 2 hours prior to departure. Like in Lima, we found ourselves quickly moving through security and deeply bored inside. Cusco’s airport is antiquated for the amount of traffic it sees, and there’s increasing chatter about setting up a new airfield somewhere else in the valley. I’m not sure there’s any convenient place to put it, but the present location chucks it in the center of the metropolitan area, separated by high retaining walls from the apartments, arenas, stores, and businesses surrounding it. There’s another opportunity here to buy vicuna sweaters and silver goods – I chose to skip this invitation for gross consumerist activity. I don’t regret it. OK, maybe I wish I bought a hammered silver Incan king figure. Those were pretty amazing. On board, we enjoyed more Québécois practical jokes and gagged at the roasted fava beans produced in our LAN snack packs. Continue reading
We wished the doorman farewell at the Tambo Del Inka as my wife and I jumped in the cab and took off for Cusco. Our five nights at the resort were nice and a good way to acclimate to high altitude, which would serve us well in Cusco, 11,500 feet above sea level. By the time we left, my wife was off Diamox and I was seriously thinking about doing the same. We actually ended up with some pretty gnarly sunburns in Ollantaytambo, and I was happy to have brought the aloe with me. Diamox is wonderful for dealing with altitude, but the side effects of “stuff tastes weird sometimes” and “you get sunburned in seconds” are a bit unfortunate. Keep that in mind if you ever get yourself a prescription.
Our last day spent at the Tambo Del Inka would feature a half-day, “self guided” and entirely self invented tour of the nearby town of Ollantaytambo (pronounced in gringoese: Ohl-Ahn-Tay-Tahmbo). From Urubamba, this is an easy thing to do – get a taxi to take you to the center of town, walk around, go to the ruins and buy yourself a Boleto Turistico (if you haven’t done so already), and cruise. You’re looking at a roughly 30 minute or so trip from Urubamba to the town square, and from there, a 5 minute walk is required to get you to the entrance of the archaeological park. Like everywhere else in Peru, a guide can be obtained upon entrance, though they are basically reading out of a book which can be purchased from one of the stands located near the entry way. Continue reading
In our experience, having something exciting that one looks forward to the following day means that setting the alarm clock is more or less an emergency measure. You do it because, hey, maybe you’ll be asleep, but realistically, you’ll probably instead flutter between consciousness and nervousness, only occasionally interceded with REM sleep. This was the case for the night prior to our 5:30 AM alarm informing us to rise, shine, and get ready for our train trip. Knowing food was forthcoming on the train, we skipped breakfast and hurriedly showered, dressed, and prepped my backpack for the trek ahead. Along with us, I took a bunch of rain gear, a couple collapsible canteens filled with water, train ticket info, and camera junk that I never used. Continue reading
Over the course of two days, my wife and I would venture into a vastly different sort of world than the one we were used to. There isn’t a lot of convenience to do this, but we attempted to find those that existed and exploit them to the best of our ability. We started the trip with one of those; a bus ride. From right in downtown East Lansing, the Michigan Flyer bus takes off with a cooler full of bottled water, Wifi, and a toilet, and makes its way to Detroit Metro Airport. At $50 round trip per person, it never made any sense for weekend trips. But for this, it was cheaper than airport parking and removed the headache of driving home after a long night and morning of flights. Continue reading
Late at night on the Avenue Elmer Faucett, we sat in traffic. Our taxi driver was in the midst of a mosh pit of vehicles, determined to get us to the airport. There is no room for nice guys on the streets of Peru’s major cities. It is a free-for-all, and almost lawless world where stop signs and speed limits barely even approach factoring as suggestions to those behind the wheel. In the immediate vicinity of our car were late-model Asian imports in a variety of sizes and shapes, most badly beaten up, few street legal in America. There were “taxi libres”, combis, tuk-tuks, and private vehicles all vying for space on a road built for a fraction of the traffic. After passing a couple of lights, the road opened up wide – perhaps 10 lanes across, interspersed with barely protected support beams for an overpass – and we were back up to speed. The signs for Jorge Chavez International Airport were all around us now, and we knew the conclusion of the trip was approaching.
Since there’s gonna be a lot of trip reports coming on this, I’ll create a special placeholder from whence I’ll link individual reports. I promise, it’ll make things easier.
Part 1: Preface – Posted 3/29/2015
Part 2: Travel to Lima and Cusco – Posted 3/29/15
Part 3: Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, and Urubamba – Posted 3/29/15
Part 4: Ollantaytambo – Posted 3/29/15
Part 5: Cusco – Posted 4/6/15
Part 6: Miraflores, Barranco, Callao, and Islas Palominos – Posted 4/16/15
Part 7: Food Tour of Lima, Departure