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Published: October 11th 2010
We booked our overnight bus to Cusco with CIAL bus company, it's a bit cheaper than the others so we decided to try out the cama class. Even though the seats recline back nearly into a bed, I couldn't sleep. (I think I was fearful the strike wasn't actually over and we would get stopped at 4 in the morning). But we made it and immediately checked into Loki Hostel.
The Loki in Cusco is well known amongst backpackers. It can accomodate over 200 people in very comfortable and clean bunks. It is a very social hostel with a couple courtyards and a hoppin' bar scene. The tour desk is also extremely helpful and they don't jack up the prices as much as other hostels. People generally spend a few days here to acclimate to the altitude before trekking to Machu Picchu.
Our first day we walked around the Plaza de Armas and sifted through the San Pedro Market. The market is huge, the most elaborate sections are the rows of alpaca products - socks, leg warmers, sweaters, ponchos, etc. Then there is an aisle of breads, an aisle of spices, fruits, meats, juices, and so on. It is quite an
experience. We of course had lunch at Jacks Cafe - the number one gringo spot in Cusco, and rightfully so, the food was delicious.
Our second day we booked an all day tour of the Sacred Valley. The tour turned out to be more economical than visiting the sites on your own. You can purchase a one day tourist ticket for 70 soles and get in as many of the sites as you can in one day or you can purchase the 10 day ticket for 130 soles. First we visited the Pisac Ruins - an Inkan fort and then the famous Pisac Market (more alpaca goodies). Then we went to Ollantaytambo which was fascinating. It's hard to believe how astronomically advanced the Inkans were. My favorite stop was Chinchero meaning "town of rainbows." This place is believed to be the "mythical birthplace of the rainbow." When we arrived the sun was starting to set and a storm was approaching - before us lay a perfect rainbow. It was beautiful. Then we were invited into a weaving village where we learned the process for dying the alpaca yarns, which plants are used to create which colors, and how the actual
weaving is done.
After two days in Cusco I thought I was in the clear, but the altitude finally got to me. Of course it happened the one day a friend of mine from the states was also in Cusco. We met up for lunch and all of a sudden all I could see were jagged lines of color. Fortunately after 12 hours of rest I was feeling much better and I didn't have to cancel my trek to Machu Picchu.
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