Peru Trip 2018, Part 2

Hey all,

Last time I was on here I posted a segment from the traveling to Peru portion of our trip. Now I would like to tell you a little bit about what we saw and experienced while there for eight days. (Apologies for the segmented posts, but we all know that this time of year can be hectic!)

The morning of September 23, 2018, we landed in Cuzco, Peru. Off the cuff, life was the same, but entirely different. One woman on our flight was transporting a 5 gallon bucket of strawberries from Lima to Cuzco, and Sunshine made her laugh when he expressed excitement over the sight of fresh fruit.

Leaving the airport was our first challenge, we did not book any kind of package, which likely would have included all the convenience of being picked up at the airport, and so on, but we preferred the adventure of hoofing it! One of our Air BnBs had offered to pick us up straight from the airport, but they were going to be our second Air BnB of the trip so it made no sense at the time.

Upon walking out of the airport, one is instantly targeted as a sale to be had. Needless to say, we had no issues getting a taxi from the airport to downtown Cuzco, but we were obliged to listen to a synopsis on the 20 or so tours that this company offered in addition to taxi services.

Our taxi driver, who called himself Miel, was very talkative and it was almost entirely in Spanish. He asked if I spoke Spanish and I told him, “Yes a little bit,” to which he replied that we would understand each other. He then asked if we were from France, to which I replied, “No, los Estados Unidos,” and then noted how he seemed less enthused for it.

However, we were soon on our way to Carmen Bajo, where our first Air BnB of the trip was located, and he began to talk. Sunshine sat next to him up front and Miel would look back at me when describing the city around us as we passed through. I was able to ask him several questions in Spanish, and he told me I was very good with the language and simply needed more practice.

Miel was the first to teach us about Quechua, the language of the Incas prior to the invasion of the Spanish in approximately 1532(?). He told us that there were five other peoples in the area before his own ancestors, the Incas, and that the Incan history was not too terribly old (all supposedly after Christ).

Miel drove us through the modern portion of Cuzco, from the airport, and we noted the roads became much more narrow as we got closer to downtown. He told us that this was because the roads constructed in this area were meant for alpacas, llamas, and humans, not cars. This brief cab tour gave me more confidence to speak Spanish in the city throughout the week.

When he dropped us off on Carmen Bajo, we were met with a small blue door against a fresh white stucco wall. Looking up and down the street, we quickly understood that cars had the right of way and that pedestrians better hop up on the curb and hug the wall to keep from being hit. The street was narrow, and there were several small shops right across from the door where we were dropped off.

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Blue doors on white stucco, a common theme throughout downtown Cuzco.

Hoping for the best, not knowing what to expect, Sunshine reached to the top of the door and rang the bell. Some minutes later, a little girl in a cute blue dress pulled the door open slightly and peered out. Sunshine asked her if this was an Air BnB and she nodded, then I asked in Spanish if we may enter. She nodded again and opened the door wider, she could not have been more than nine years old.

Behind her, we could see through a short, dimly lit foyer to an open atrium beyond. As we walked forward we were greeted by a white cat with a few spots, who seemed to run the concierge. The little girl turned to say she would get her brother, who then asked us some brief questions (he could not be older than ten or eleven). He soon pointed across the balcony from where he stood with his little sister to say that our apartment was just there and to go on in. I wasn’t sure what to think after being greeted by a cat and two children, but Sunshine seemed to think it was all okay.

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Sunshine made friends with all the animals we met on our trip; this was Tamí, she appeared to run our first Air BnB.

The atrium was a beautiful oasis, and from the street outside one would never realize it existed. The colours consisted of lots of blues, browns, and some red. The room itself was lovely, and I thought to myself that it would be the perfect apartment. Perhaps over time it may be too small for two, but for a vacation home/destination it was wonderful and greatly exceeded my expectations.

While I was in the bathroom, Sunshine met our host, a former Irishman called Gary. He suggested that we rest today, before our trek with Alpaca Expeditions in the morning. Before doing that, however, we took to the streets to change some of our money, and explore for a couple of hours. When it felt right we found some food at a covered market, where various vendors had their shops set up. There were piles of fruits in the center, and along the walls there were Peruvian locals cooking meals for other locals and those of us tourists who happened by.

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“Trucha frita con arroz.” It was very good!

After having some delicious food, and of course the coca tea to prevent altitude sickness, we went back to the Air BnB and passed out for several hours. We woke up in the late afternoon, with plenty of time to touch base with our Machu Picchu tour service, Alpaca Expeditions, which was a small adventure in its own. Once we found the location of the office, we had to climb up a set of dark staircase and wait in another atrium, until the trekkers in front of us finished their debriefing. The short discussion that followed put us at ease to wake up at 4AM the next morning and be picked up by a stranger in a green “Alpaca Expeditions” jacket.

Once all of our business with the tour was settled, we went about getting to know downtown Cuzco in the dark of evening, which seemed to be when most folks were out anyway. We quickly realized a few things, all the shops have very similar wares, even though they all claim to be originals. The students selling art from their homemade leather portfolios in the street doubled as drug dealers (weed or cocaine, typically), if the locals are in traditional garb it’s probably their occupation (to pose for photos), and though the main industry now appears to be tourism (due to Machu Picchu) Peru is still an unusually spiritual destination.

(To be cont.)

Peru Trip 2018, Part 1

We did it! My boyfriend and I had been planning a trip to Cuzco, Peru, basically since we met… Sunshine, my boyfriend, and I saved for many months to payoff the trip to Cuzco that we had originally charged to his Southwest card. By the time we were ready to leave, the card was back at zero and we were feeling pretty cool about it.

At the time, we were both working 60+ hours a week between two jobs and it was time for a desperately needed vacation. About a week before we left, Sunshine quit his full time job and started to do the things that he loved to put his time and effort into. My brother needed help on the vineyard, he went out there; his friend’s podcast began to take off, he ran cameras and helped out there; other friends’ various bands needed a drummer to play for a record or a show, and he showed up. By the time we were approaching take-off day, he was happier than he had been in months and was excited to get out of bed each day.

Meanwhile, I was slipping further into the depression I had been falling into since I began to realize how much of my time was spent driving to a job that did not fulfill me in any way (apart, of course, from monetarily). My commute was 40 minutes to an hour, each way, and when I got to work I would sit in a booth for 8-10 hours each day. It was draining, especially on the mind, but I found that physically I was becoming weaker in different ways.

The day before we were originally meant to take off for Dallas, Texas, from Kansas City, Missouri, I was exhausted. Sunshine worked an overnight shift that night at our mutual part-time job, and I tried to get our luggage prepped. We had a bit of confusion, followed by frustration, over how many bags we would take, and I think it came from us both being overworked and just beat.

The next day, his uncle was going to take us to the airport and our airline messaged us as we were leaving the driveway to say that our flight had been cancelled. We got on the phone immediately and in a few hours had worked it out so that our flight would be the very next day, at nearly the same time.

After that was all figured out, we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant that night and went to bed as soon as we could. The next morning we went for a run together, then got coffees, before going home to get ready again and make sure all our bags were situated and our passports were in hand. This time our flight was not cancelled and we took off!

We left on Saturday, September 22, 2018, which happened to be on my mum’s birthday, so I made sure to call her before we left the country. The last time I had been on a plane, I think I was 23-years-old, maybe 24, and had experienced an anxiety attack (my first one) in flight. It was terrible, and leading up to our trip I was scared that it could happen again.

However, the whole series of flights on the way there went smoothly. When we boarded in Dallas to fly to Lima we experienced our first taste of Peruvian hospitality. We played musical chairs with a man from San Francisco, originally from Lima, and a couple of others so that he and his wife could sit together and I could sit with Sunshine.

This made the 7-hour flight much more bearable for everyone in that group of seats, as we could each lean on our loved ones in attempt to get some rest. When we landed in Lima, we were surprised to find that customs was easy throughout the entire process. It was essentially, “What are you here for? How long will you be here? Enjoy your time in Peru.”

We both thought it would be a hassle somewhere along the way, and when it wasn’t in Kansas City, then wasn’t in Dallas, we thought for sure it would get tricky in Lima. However, to our surprise we seemed to have stepped back in time to some degree, and we loved it. The people were instantly more charming and much less tied to their devices.

(To be continued…)

Peruvian streets are small in Cuzco!

Peru Trip – Finalized

We have finally finished booking everything for our trip to Peru this Autumn. Woohoo! There is a sense of relief and excitement in knowing what awaits us there. Among other things that we hope to find there, we have scheduled a trek with a local tour company for Machu and Huayna Picchu. Both of which are typically booked out many months in advance, now we know!

Due to the popularity of the Inca Trail treks, we settled on selecting a kind of mini tour. Two days and one night, with hotel and food included. This works out perfectly for us as we hope to just Airbnb and hop around to local spots found by word-of-mouth for most of the trip anyway. This is the first time that I’ve planned a trip around any kind of tour booking, so that was a different experience for me already, as I tend to fly myself out to a place then figure it out when I get there from talking to locals.

Our trip had to be a bit more planned than per usual, because Machu Pichu is so popular and we are budgeting really heavily in order to reach all of our goals. The entire trip is on my boyfriend’s Southwest card and we have a plan to pay it back by the time we leave. Another one of our goals is to open a CD in June to begin saving at a higher interest rate for our idea of moving to Europe within the next few years.

As we already have that money set aside, or earmarked, we are beginning to save to pay off the card immediately. After we return from this trip to Peru, we will begin saving for our trip to Costa Rica to become TEFL Certified in early 2019. Tell you what, saving becomes easier once you have goals that you’re wholeheartedly invested in. Some may call us crazy, or simply think we’re dreamers with our heads in the clouds, but I believe in us and he does as well. That is everything we need to set our goals and to crush them in time.