I absolutely had a terrible flight itinerary to get here. I flew from ORD -> TPA -> MIA -> LIM -> CUZ ~24 hours door to door. The worst part is I know that I grossly overpaid for the tickets (~$1200) since at the time of my booking, I could have gotten late August tickets for like $600 >.<. For me though, the money wasn't the biggest crunch factor--it was the dates. At the time of booking, I didn't think I could do more than 2 weeks, plus I wanted to get back to the real world.
Looking back however, the travel wasn’t nearly as bad as it was on paper. I had no flight delays (I was a bit worried because I had two flights in Florida in hurricane season) and I had enough stuff to keep me occupied during layovers that time really flew by. The only criticism I have is that at the Lima airport, my gate was changed thrice in 45 minutes, and only twice with any sort of announcement.
After arriving at my hostel (Pariwana) from the airport via taxi (which was surprisingly easy), I dropped my bags off in the storage room until I could check in. In the meantime, I grabbed breakfast with some fellow travelers at the hostel and then went off on my own to explore Cusco. One of the folks I grabbed breakfast with had been here for two days and said that they lost their breath on walk to the Loki Hostel Travel Desk. At the time, I hadn’t really felt any effects of altitude sickness, so in my head I was like, “ALLLLRIGHT, I ain’t not b*tch. Plus this will be a good chance to train for the Chicago Half. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.” Once I found the stairs, I chose to flat out RUN up then (see photo below).
It probably wasn’t the greatest idea, since afterward I gasped a bit for air and felt a tiny bit lightheaded, but I think that if I had just walked it wouldn’t have been a big deal. I really wanted to go to the Loki desk anyway, since Sheppard was just here in Peru and gave a great review of their services before my trip. I think I am going to go skydiving (apparently one of the highest in South America) either today or tomorrow, and then I’ll go on the Incan Jungle Trek to Macchu Pichu (3 or 4 days) starting on Saturday.
After getting all the info, I walked around Cusco a bit looking at the prices for alpalca sweaters, hat, mittens, scarves, etc, at the various merchants (let me know if you want me to pick something up :P). I made my way back to the Hostel, took a shower, and then a super long nap (3 hours). I ate a half chicken for dinner and have been chugging coco leaf tea pretty much nonstop to try and ease my symptoms of altitude sickness.
Reflecting a bit, the part that worried me most about the trip (mi terrible espanol) has not turned out to be a big issue at all. While I think that my experience could be a lot richer if I knew more, I have luckily squeaked by since a lot of the people I have needed to interact with have spoken English. My little phrasebook I bought from Lonely Planet has been well worth the money though. My mobile data connection hasn’t been solid enough for me to use google translate on the fly, but I did use it to store a few phrases I knew I would need ahead of time which was nice. I think that if I were to stick to the more touristy areas, I could easily spend at least 3 weeks in the country without needing to know a whole lot more Spanish than I do right now… but this is based on just one day’s activities.
More assorted photos from the day below: