Right before we left for Cusco I sent one last message to the owner of the our Airbnb rental to get the address. I booked last minute and was hoping we could get in a bit early since our bus was due to arrive at 6 am. We got in a fender bender along the way and didn’t arrive until 7 am. To our surprise the owner of the Airbnb was waiting at the bus station for us with a warm greeting and a ride to our flat. It was a very warm welcome to Cusco and we were happy to relax and acclimate ourselves to the high altitude of the region. And boy did we need it! Not long after arriving we started experiencing shortness of breath, headaches and I was getting quite dizzy. Luckily our flat came equipped with coca tea which is the recommended cure for altitude sickness and we’ve had a cup each morning. It has taken all week for the effects to slowly wear off and the boys were interested in discussing why it was so difficult to breath each time they ran up the stairs.
Cusco is cooler than the rest of Peru and it’s been nice wearing sweaters again and walking in the rain. We have enjoyed exploring our neighborhood and trying the different eateries. Right acrossed from our flat is a Cevicheria and it has top ratings from the boys, mainly because their first dish came out on fire and won their hearts.
I walk a half block each morning to buy tamales from a lady on the corner and then cross the street and buy egg and cheese sandwiches to take home. The total cost for everything is $5.95 and I’m loving the affordability of feeding the whole family here. The boys are getting much better at excepting new dishes and dealing with the accidental mix up orders that seem to happen to us often. The boys were happy to try alpaca kabobs on our first jaunt to the Plaza De Armaz and I got food envy and wished I had ordered it too. The small bite I was given was delicious and next time we go there I’m ordering it for myself.
The Plaza De Armaz is the main square in Cusco and our frequent destination. There are endless markets, numerous large churches and and plenty of good photo opportunities. There are groups of traditionally dressed women that walk around with lamas and lambs and except soles for photos but for some reason it is against the law and every time a police officer catches them at it a whistle is blown and they take off running. One of my favorite photos caught them making a run for it right after my boys sat next to them.
There are little travel agencies on every corner near the main square and I stopped in one to set up a short tour for $12 on the double decker bus that turned out better than I had expected. The bus took us up the hill for a sweeping view of the city and we had a stop at a small village where an elder performed a ritual with coca leaves, prayers to the north and south and I believe we were blessed. It was in Spanish so I didn’t understand it but it was a fun little ceremony along the way. We stopped at the large Jesus statue overlooking the city and then at a gift shop where we were given coca tea and a demonstration on how the locals plants are used to dye alpaca wool. I loved this part because I like seeing how people use materials on hand to create their livelihood. The stop I was looking forward to the most ended up not being what I hoped for. At the tour agency I pointed to the picture of the ruins I wanted to stop at and they recommended this tour. When we got to Saksaywaman all we did was park on the hill for 10 minutes and look at it over the fence. Another miscommunication leads us somewhere we didn’t expect but since the rest of the family was happy with the tour, so am I. Now that I know where the ruins are I’m just going to take a taxi to see them when the rain lets up.
This was our first week in Cusco. We will be here two more weeks after our trip to Machu Picchu, which is the the destination I’m looking forward to the most!