Saturday, December 03, 2011

Day 13 – Lima to Cusco, Peru

I meet an Ecuadorian couple that lives in San Diego for breakfast this morning.  The man is very impressed that I am on a self-booked tour to Mach Picchu, and validates my expectation that this site will be the highlight of the trip. He tells me Machu Picchu is actually in a tropical climate, which will be wetter and warmer than Cusco, and which will be cool in the mornings but pleasant by afternoon.  I have my trusty Hally Hansen sailing jacket with me, which has an outer rainproof coat and an inner fleece jacket, so I should be able to cope with changing conditions.

The ship arrives on time at 10AM despite being delayed by a Peruvian navy ship that had priority in the harbour. It’s exciting to finally be in Callao and almost on our way.  I debark the ship and immediately see my name on a placard, and meet the young woman who will guide us to the airport and help us find our flight to Cusco. Although I’m sure we would have managed on our own taking a taxi, it is so much easier to have someone else deal with the transfer and check-in using Spanish.

We have about three hours to kill before our flight departs, so we settle into the food fair area outside the secure gate area – Starbucks, MacDonalds, chicken and sandwich places are all available. We eat our own snacks. I spot quite a few passengers from the Rotterdam in the airport.  This area of the airport is very noisy.  Flight announcements are in Spanish and English. We move through security to the boarding gate waiting area, which has nice padded seats and is a bit quieter.

Our LANPeru flight to Cusco leaves on time, and it is not full.  The scenery outside the window is nothing short of spectacular.  Lima is huge, and the Andes are amazing.  As we approach the valley where Cusco is located, there is beautiful scenery at every turn the aircraft makes on approach.  The bonus is that the weather is warm and sunny, unlike the coastal cities of Lima and Trujillo, which were cold and overcast.

Our guide and driver meet us at the Cusco airport and take us to our hotel, the Casa Andina Private Collection – an amazing hotel right in the centre of the city. Although we haven’t had a chance to explore it fully since it is so labyrinthine, what’s we have experienced is very nice indeed.  Our three nights here will be very comfortable.  Our rooms have king beds and all rooms look over courtyards, which means they are very quiet despite it being created from an 18th century manor house.  Having free access to high speed Internet is a real bonus for me…hopefully I will have time to catch up on blogs and email while I’m here.

We all are a bit wobbly and not feeling 100%, although it is hard to tell if the cause is spending the last 11 days on board a ship, or the high altitude.  In any case, we are coping well, since the symptoms aren’t preventing us from exploring this interesting city.  Cusco is a safe city to wander around day or night, since it is so tourist-oriented.  We have a wonderful wood fired pizza for dinner at a little pizzeria only a block from the hotel called La Pizza Carlo – recommended by our guide, and recommended by me too!  After dinner, I buy a watercolour painting from an artist hawking his wares outside the hotel for US$40. It is an abstract of an Inca, and Indian, a puma and Machu Picchu.  I often purchase small paintings as mementos while traveling, since I routinely pass by all the other souvenirs. It is time for bed and some rest, since we have a full day tour of the Sacred Valley tomorrow, and I want to be up for it.

I wake up at 3AM and decide to get up for awhile.  By then I’m feeling considerably better than I was earlier, which is encouraging.  I use my time to update this blog and drill through a bunch of emails.

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