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Published: September 1st 2015
Cusco! Liberation from 22 hours of bus! The city is golden in the morning light. Even from the bus windows, you notice the women: long black braids twined with black yarn and tied together in a loop, dark skirts past the knees with several layers of petticoats beneath, floral loose aprons, plump feet and legs stuffed into stockings and leather shoes or sandals, two layers of sweaters, stiff-brimmed hats with silk ribbon bands, bright woven shawls worn tied at the neck and slung over the back as pouches for handicrafts, children, calla lillies, bread.
The women seem to belong to the city more than anyone else. The streets are as elegant as they are, of worn cobblestone and steep alleys. Dogs of every breed settle into doorways and sidewalks, not mutts but handsome pets that roam for the day. And everywhere are signs of tourism for Machu Picchu and guided treks. You would think Cusco would devolve into a cliche of itself, but each day there are long, half-solemn, half-gleeful parades by and for the locals only. Men from academic and religious societies stand in the warm square in sweater vests and suits, hoisting a brilliantly bedecked Virgin on a
heavy wooden pallet. The women follow solemnly, then two bands, then groups of dancers covered in beaded costumes and coy masks. The dancers are flushed and grinning to themselves. They are putting on a spectacle for no other reason but to celebrate the day, and though the tourists support the city, the city lives for itself.
Choosing our hostel based on nothing but the name (it shares my boyfriend’s cat’s name, a good enough sign) is the best dumbest decision I’ve made so far. Loki hostel, turns out, is infamous as a party hostel. Its Cusco location happens to be a beautiful old establishment with two courtyards and old Spanish architecture. Quiet dormitories plus three happy hours, all for $8 a night. Unfortunately, all I have are many grumpy hours of altitude sickness from the 11,000 ft elevation. We are in Cusco to meet up with our friend Gabby and to prepare for a five day backpacking trek at an even higher elevation--I spend the day gasping and groaning up the steep streets with only a daypack on, terrified of my impending doom at 15,600 ft with a 30 lb pack.
Cusco sends me reeling in the best
Hill to Loki
At 11,000 ft, this little hill made me wheeze. This does not bode well for impending 15,000+ ft with 30 lbs. We only had 2 days to acclimate. Also not wise.
and worst ways!
Tot: 1.388s; Tpl: 0.024s; cc: 10; qc: 46; dbt: 0.0144s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb