Thursday, June 20, 2013

Peru-Brazil 2013 – Day 3 - Cusco

4 am and we are up. Today we have an early flight to Cusco so we have to wake up and pack, to be ready for the 6:15 pickup. Everything went without a hitch and by 8:30 am the plane was departing. I was feeling very tired so immediately zonked out and missed the whole crossing of the Andes. Rats!

We landed around 10 am, and right away felt the effects of the high altitude. We have to move slowly and with purpose; otherwise we risk ending huffing and puffing. Quickly we arranged for a van to take us to the hotel, and Tom chose the moment when we started moving to let me know that he had booked a different hotel than that Annie and I had booked. “OK, what is the name of the hotel?” “I am not sure. I think it is called San Jeronimo” The driver made a blank face and for a while I had the vision of us driving up and down Cusco to find this hotel. It turns out I had booked a quaint and inexpensive hotel, in the part of town called San Jeronimo, which is a good half hour from the center of Cusco, so the name of the area and the name of the hotel offered some hope. “Let’s get there and we will ask.”

The driver, being a man, did not believe in asking, so I had to be attentive to the names of the streets and, yes, there was the street where our hotel was located. We arrived, were greeted by a very friendly young man who had a vague idea that the Hotel San Jeronimo was located three streets down and three streets up. So there, but for the Grace of God, went the taxi and I promised we would come look for them in an hour or so.

First thing to do was to take a couple of cups of coca tea, much touted by the locals as the best way to deal with altitude sickness. OK a bit tasteless, but who are we to buck tradition. We unpacked and the bed looked very inviting. I must have been bitten by a tse-tse fly. I fought my lethargy, and within the hour my honey and I were on our way, to look for the Hotel San Jeronimo, which turned out to be way, way up along the side of the valley. Wonderful view but we were completely winded by the time we got there. Alma and Tom were also installed and happy, and were waiting for the arrival of Margarita, who was coming to lunch.

A few minutes later Tita arrived, and her parents beamed with happiness. She is a delightful young woman, who for the last month has been staying in Cusco, taking a rather intensive certificate course as a yoga instructor. She will be finishing the course this Friday, and on Saturday will join us to walk the Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu. So the team is now complete!

After lunch Tita went back to her course, and Alma, Annie, Tom and I walked down to the center of the old town of San Jeronimo, where I wanted to buy a jacket for the Inca Trail. Size was the major issue, because Peruvians are generally small and trim. Quite a contrast with my ponderous girth! Eventually I found something that would work, for the shocking price of 50 Soles (about US$ 20), to which we added gloves for US$1 each pair, and a belt for US$2. There are certain advantages to being off the tourist path.
By now it was 4:30 pm, and I was falling asleep on my tracks. So we said goodbye to Alma and Tom, got to our hotel by 5 pm, and I proceeded to have 14 hours of sleep! I hope that even the account, and that from now on I will go back to a more regular schedule.

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