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Published: June 28th 2013
We decided to forgo Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca and head straight to Cusco from Copacabana. This involved a very straight forward border crossing into Peru and a few hours layover in Puno, where we stumbled across Kyle again. We had met Kyle, a very young something Canadian traveller in La Paz. He has been travelling for 14 months and lost his credit card in Paraguay, and has since been scrimping, borrowing and hitch hiking his way to Lima where he had a flight to the states. When we last saw him in La Paz he had just managed to bribe his way out of an 8 hour stint in the local jail for drinking Singani on the streets with some local alcho's. When we saw him in the Puno Bus Terminal, he had been there for 12 hours after being kicked out of a truck that he was hitch hiking on. He had managed to score a free ride all the way to Lima with this truck, but the driver was a bit nervous thinking that Kyle looked like a druggy, and then was totally spooked when the sheath of Kyle's machete came off when he was playing
with his bag! Dumped in the middle of nowhere Kyle managed to call around to some friends back home and get enough cash via western union transfer to get his bus ticket to Lima. He has survived like this for some time now, and intends to ride the railways when he gets to the states back up to Canada. One crazy dude...
We arrived into a misty Cusco at 5am, and after some hesitation got into a cab and got a ride to our 'hostel'. When looking into a place to stay we alarmingly found out that accommodation in Cusco ain't cheap. We had booked into a 'hostel' that was reasonably priced, and was supposed to be very close to the square, cabel tv in the room, a king sized bed and a common kitchen. On arrival we were lucky in that they were happy for us to use the room straight away, but that is where the luck ran out. Our room was a dungeon, with no windows, no king sized bed, and cables in the wall where cable tv should be. Ok, we thought we could live with this, but in the morning we found out that
to use the kitchen we had to pay per hour, and that the plaza was a good 15 min walk away. Although extremely pissed off with the blatant lies, we were resigned to the fact that we had to stay here for another 3 nights, after which we would do our 4 day Inca Trail trek. Mojo will unleash her fury/views on the various booking sites we used for research to ensure that other unsuspecting travellers do not go to this shithole.
Venturing out later that day after a much needed snooze, we found out that the city was in party mode for the Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun). It is the biggest party of the year where people for all of the local villages come into Cusco to parade their traditional clothes, music and get really drunk. The main square was a hive of activity with the streets full of parading people, and beer tents set up to quench the locals thirst. It was a bit overwhelming, constantly having to squeeze through crowds and dodge the hundreds of people trying to sell us things ranging from jewellery, art work, Machu Pichu trips and photo's with baby or
full grown sized Llama's. Frazzled, we found Paddy's Pub, the highest Irish Owned Bar in the world that sells Guinness and settled in for the afternoon. Apart from Guinness they had Old Speckled Hen on tap, and some homely meals on the menu. It would become a favourite joint for us as we found out that they make a tasty Shepherds Pie along with an artery clogging all day breakfast.
Over the next few days we acclimatised to the crazy scene that was presented to us and got into it. At night they set up a big stage in front of the Cathedral where live music and fireworks boomed all night, and during the day we made our way through the various markets. We found a local artist (not one of the hundreds selling stuff on the street) whose work we really liked and bought some paintings, and found a juicer lady who we would go back every day to get fresh juice and a vitamin hit. Mojo has found a new fruit Lucuma, that looks like a passion fruit with a soft skin, but with the taste of a fig. Mixed with a fresh mango it makes a
really delicious juice, and at $1.50 for for 700ml it is cheaper then vitamin pills. However, we had to be careful of what laneways we went down, not because of crime or whatever, but to avoid the areas where the locals had used the street as a toilet, the stench from some of them was gut churning.
After 3 nights we were on our Inca Trail trek and away from the hostel of death. Not only was it like a jail cell, but they did not clean the room once, which is ok, except for the fact that the toilet paper bin was well and truly full by then and stinking the place out (remember no windows!) Unfortunately, we had to leave most of our luggage at the 'hostel' when we went on the trek, meaning that we had one more night at this hole when we came back. On our last day before the trek we walked all over town investigating potential places to stay, and finally found a nice joint. Although a fair bit more then the previous dump, it has a lovely room, nice courtyard, free kitchen, and a good vibe. They have a sister hostel
in Lima, so i think we will stay there as well.
We have been back in Cusco for 3 nights now, making our way through the various restaurants offering some Western and Asian cuisine. We have indulged in some chinese wanton soup, Japanese Udon and the super tasty shepherds pie. It is a little fix for us before we head to Arequipa in a few days and the rest of Peru sampling the local dishes like Guinea Pig. Lima is renowned for a great restaurant scene and we are greatly looking forward to some sashimi and ceviche.
When we were on the Inca Trail the Australian PM and cricket coach got sacked, not sure which is the bigger news.
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