Friday the Thirteen in Peru

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February 13th 2009
Published: February 13th 2009
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Flying over the Andes to go to Cusco
I missed my plane to Cusco. Ironic actually, as it dawned on me that my early rise and taxi to airport had gone smoothly. I checked my bags, stood in line to pay the airport tax, asked someone where gate 11 was and had time to munch on a banana. How peaceful it was to sit near the gate that would take me to Cusco. I thought about the date, Friday the 13th and was grateful for the good luck. Then we were called to board the plane.
The flight attendent pointed out that this was the wrong plane. I pointed to the red ink circled 11 for the gate and she said there was a gate change and I missed my plane. I would have to wait. Funnily, I was too mellow to really care, as long as they didn´t try to charge me for another ticket. Where were my bags? Ten minutes later, she came back to say that my luggage was on its way to Cusco already, and yes, I could board this plane. The staff did not look happy. They told me to sit in seat 6J. I was the last person on the plane, and noticed

Google Teatro Inka Hostal 3. The online photos are true. My room feels a bit like an adobe house, with private bath and shower and t.v.
the empty window seat at the front. The attendant said I could sit there. Guess my good 13th luck is still with me.
I took lots of photos of the mountains and sacred valley. Wow, I am happy to be here. The Incas were a mighty civilazation and from the views above I was very iimpressed with villages and roads in this area.
After I landed I found my luggage, and negotiated for a taxi (only over-paid 5 soles to get to hostel). The colours of the hostel are really cheerful, and my room is half-price because it is low tourist season. The receptionist brought me local tea and now I am sitting at a computer while I rest and adjust to the mountain air. I am tired, my feet ache from all the walking yesterday, and some parts of my skin are really red. Despite a few aches, I am super thrilled that I am here. If I had the energy I would be doing the happy dance.
Think I will sit quietly most of the afternoon. I have three days here which is plenty of time to see the main square, pick up my train

When the clouds parted I could see the Andes mountains
tickets, buy the tourist ticket for the area and take more photos.
You will note that halfway through the pictures I have photos from the drive to the airport this morning. There are some dodgy areas and residential areas and industrial factories (I am guessing that last one but I noted bus-loads of people driving through gates in walled buildings). People were on their way to work, and I got that ´happy zing´that I am free this year to explore. When the taxi stopped at the first red light, the driver locked all the doors. I saw street venders and performers. One boy who juggled sticks caught my eye and he approached the cab. I noticed that he was wearing an ipod, perhaps the music helped him entertain. I do not think the taxi driver would have let the boy ask me for money, even though I was tempted to pass him the change in my pocket.
O.K. time for nap.
Hey, it is still Friday 13th and I´m back at the computer chilling out. This is the best place for me not to move. I did sleep for an hour, then woke up thirsty
Plaza de ArmasPlaza de ArmasPlaza de Armas

This is the centre plaza in Cusco. In background is La Catedral, built on an ancient Inca temple. Bloody Europeans!
and decided it was time to get water, snacks, and the lay of the land. The receptionist is very helpful here, marking on my map the location of grocery store and the restaurant that I want to visit tomorrow evening. I went out for a walk and ended up sitting quite often as I was puffing like a fish in old water. I took a few pictures and will add them to this blog. It was annoying walking through the squares and touristy streets because women and children where trying to sell things or organize massages and manicures. ´No, gracias´is what I said over and over again.
I must say, the children are incredibly pretty. I try not to take close-up photographs of people unless I have their permission. I might ask some parents tomorrow if I can take pictures of their little ones in costumes, unless the price is too high. Tricky, not sure what is politically correct...these people earn money from tourists.
TIPS for Cusco
If you sit on park benches street venders will approach you with wares to sell, unless you sit near the many patroling police.
The first time I sat down in a nearby park

I think this is Cusco
a lady named Judy came up with jewelry. Her English was very good and she had every sales line possible, e.g. ´You are my first customer of the day, and I make you a great deal´. I listened to her and declined all deals. I told her honestly that I was tired and my brain was foggy but if I see her in the next few days and want her jewelry (made by her son and husband) I would be sure to buy it. Two minutes later I popped into a craft store and the identical necklaces were there. Hmmmm, maybe her family makes enough for all the touristy stores that I visited? or maybe Judy was selling things made in a factory?
Tip 2- The large grocery store ´Mega´has a terrific little restaurant upstairs that serves delicious fried chicken and chips for about $3 (Cdn). The place was filled with locals, the staff were very friendly, and if you eat the side salad they ask if you want more. I didn´t understand when the waitress came up to me; I thought she wanted to take the empty plate. She returned with the second salad, and I clued in that

I wonder what they grow here?
she was saying ´more´. I left feeling very full. Mega store is on Matara street, just before you get to Ayacucho street.
Tip 3 (this is one for all of South America) When sending email: to get the @, hold down the key "alt" key and press 6 then 4 and wait a second. Buddy in the hostel in Lima taught me that very necessary skill.
Tip 4 When surfing the t.v. channels, find the ones in English with Spanish sub-titles at the bottom, and try really hard to ignore the text.
Tip 5 When you arrive at the airport, walk out to the street to get a taxi for 10 soles. The men in airport parking lot charge 20 soles. The lady at the tourist office near the arrivals gate told me that the cost should be less than 10. I refused the first three offers for a cab, and told them that their fee was too much. Finally, (probably because I was tired) we agreed the price would be 15. Next time, I am walking the 100 feet and getting a regular taxi from the streets.
Who knew that the Quebec comedy show ´Just for Laughs Gags´would
Going downGoing downGoing down

Looks dusty down there
be shown on the plane from Lima to Cusco? Weird karma, I watched the same jokes that I saw in Canada last week, and then some new ones.
I can´t wait to crawl under the blankets and get a full nights sleep.
One last thing....a BIG SHOUT OUT to all my friends who either wrote comments on this blog site or sent emails to say they were jealous. Thanks! As much as I am loving Peru, there are moments when I sit on a park bench to catch my breath and rest my feet and I observe too much commercialism around me and think ´why am I here?´. Of course these moments last...what....thirty seconds and then I marvel at the life force around me. Even the rundown buildings are facinating. What would Cusco have been like 100 years ago, before the cars and taxis that honk at every tourist they pass? What would this place have been like 700 years ago, before the Europeans conquered the Incas?
So keep those jealous feelings coming, and don´t forget to tell me about the cold weather. ha ha ha

Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


Urban areaUrban area
Urban area

I can view theses photos later to see what exists near the airport
Touch downTouch down
Touch down

Almost touch down on the tarmac

Love the colours and light here. I think I am the only person booked in the Teatro Inka 3 Bed and Breakfast.
Early Morning PhotosEarly Morning Photos
Early Morning Photos

This is the part of Lima on the way to the airport. As a Social Studies teacher, I enjoy seeing non-tourist parts of the city

People are on their way to work
Shoe shineShoe shine
Shoe shine

People make a living any way that they can.
Scotia BankScotia Bank
Scotia Bank

They are popular here. When I told someone that I was from Nova Scotia, they said ´aaah, like the bank´

I wonder what the price is compared with home?
Side streetSide street
Side street

I think most of the population of Lima live in similar neighbourhoods
Residential AreaResidential Area
Residential Area

Nice colours

When tea is gone, and this blog is complete, I´m taking a nap. This is my room.
View from the top of hostelView from the top of hostel
View from the top of hostel

It almost looks like Spain with the orange tiles and dry countryside.
View 2View 2
View 2

Beyond the houses lies the Sacred Valley

A quiet street before I hit the tourist centre

Inside many large buildings there are lovely courtyards. Upstairs here, there is an excellent restaurant.

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