Hello people. I’m exhausted as I write this. Second night in a row with almost zero sleep. (Two things I desperately need in this world in order to function as a semi-human: SLEEP and FOOD. When deprived of either, things go sideways VERY quickly.) The culprit two nights ago was an ongoing neighbourhood Fiesta that started at 9pm and went past 4am, including but not limited to an abundance of homemade fireworks that sounded like the war of 1812 right outside my window. I sucked it back and plastered a smile on my haggard looking face as we packed up to head to Cusco. Then, last night in Cusco, it was a cacophony of barking dogs and car alarms going off. Like, all night. I was still awake at 2:30 and by 5:00am the light of day was starting to stream into my room. I will NEVER take peace and quiet for granted again, so help me God.
Rant over! But before I begin, I thought you all would appreciate knowing that Alvi is currently re-enacting how we met via soliloquy, using two pigeons on the rooftop next door. I am dying ~ he’s either lost it completely or the altitude has affected his oxygen levels. Likely, it’s the former given that he’s been stuck with three chicks for the last 5 weeks straight. Yes, that must be it.
So we said goodbye to the Sacred Valley and the world’s most lovely family, Alex, Liz and their two gorgeous girls. They leave tomorrow for their own 6-month adventure throughout South America, as Alex must leave Peru until 2017 (he’s a Brit Ex-pat).
Then we said Hola to Cusco!! This is a massive city higher up in the Andes mountains in Peru, about 1.5 hours away from where our little farmhouse was. It’s been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site and there’s little wonder why. Talk about gorgeous! Yesterday, roaming around Plaza des Armes had both Alvi and I an in a constant state of gaping mouths and utterances of “wow!” Even the girls were impressed ~ Piper was like, “Hey! There’s a Starbucks!” (groan) and Saffy was counting the number of ice cream shops. We meandered about very slowly for a few hours, adjusting to the increase in altitude (roughly 2,000 ft higher than we were before at 11,500). Tourists were everywhere, including the puking kind… on the street, into garbage cans, discreetly in back alleys. Those who arrive from sea level are in for a rude awakening as their systems meet up with the thinner air. I was ever so grateful we had spent so much time in the Sacred Valley, so for the most part, we were ok. (I went to bed with a headache and you already know how the sleep turned out.)
Our apartment is amazing! We’ve been utilizing airbnb when hostels seem full, inappropriate or too expensive (yes, a hostel can be expensive!). Airbnb has not let us down yet. It led us to the Sacred Valley farmhouse and now this apartment that overlooks the city of Cusco. Our host, a lovely lady named Natali, met us in the main square and we drove up the steepest, most narrow little cobblestone streets to get to her apartment. Then it was a hike up 6 flights of outdoor stairs until we arrived at the appropriate door. Houses/apartments are all built on top of each other like massive pieces of Jenga here. It’s really quite fascinating. When looking at the city from above, one wonders how they don’t topple over, as each layer seems precariously laid on top of the other. So, we are on top of a number of other residences ~ are obviously surrounded by barking dogs ~ and have a very comfortable place all to ourselves. It was $60 Cdn and worth every penny. We only have water pressure from 6:00am until 12:00pm; after this time you’re SOL. The temperature in the apartment is probably 12 degrees celsius, if that. It’s VERY cold. But other than that, and a small snafu with buying coffee that required filters (which we don’t seem to have), we are golden!
Today is PREP day for Piper and I. We are washing all of our smelly clothes, picking up our expedition duffels from Alpaca Tours and getting everything organized for our start time of 3:30 am tomorrow. I seriously hope I can snag me some sleep between now (10:00am) and 3:30 am tomorrow… While Piper and I trek our little butts off, Saffy and Alvi will enjoy and explore Cusco. They have until Friday, at which point they will leave by train to meet up with us in Aguas Calientes, a small town at the “base” of Machu Picchu, accessible only by foot or train.
That’s about all for now. I am really missing home; my dog especially. But also the people, my family, friends and the familiarity of my own bed, in my own house. We are just under halfway through our journey and it’s been a mixed bag that travel usually presents: living up to my most hopeful expectations, with small bouts of challenges and conflicts amongst each other to contend with.