Day 10-14 Cusco
We arrived in Cusco at around 8 am after a 20 hour bus journey. The bus was the relatively luxurious cruz del sur inside, but outside was the most rugged, imposing terrain yet. It was the Andes, and it involved hairpin turn after hairpin turn to ascend the 3500m to Cusco, sleep was hard to come by. Saying that, the views once the sun had come up were amazing. It looked a bit like the highlands of Scotland except the mountains go on for a lot longer and more Llamas. Cusco is of course where Machu Pichu is, the ancient capital of an Incan prince who seemingly, liked to impress. We got a cab to our hostel, hostel Loki pretty grotty rooms but a nice old colonial buildings, with the misleading Breakfast included. Rolls, jam (if you´re lucky) and coffee was breakfast, and we left the hostel looking for Sacsayhuaman (pronounced sexy woman) a ruin on top of the hill overlooking Cusco.
Altitude is a strange affliction and affects people a lot of different ways, we´d heard horror stories about fainting downstairs and Nuclear hangovers, but thought we´d tough it out. Tough it out we didn´t, walking up is incredibly hard and as Sacsayhuaman was right at the top of the hill overlooking the town, we got a bout 300m up the considerable staircase that lead to our hostel and gave up, saying we´d do it another day. We went back to the hostel after walking for about 15-20 mins and collapsed in a deep breathing, heart pounding heap and caught up on sleep lost to the mountains.
The next 2 or 3 days we walked around Cusco during the day, a really lovely city with big cathedrals and uniformly beiche (nicer than it sounds), quant looking buildings, and looked around the Inca museum. The museum was amazing with arterfacts going back to 4000 BC and had exhibits on the importance of Llamas, potatoes,peruvians are very proud of there potatoes 3000 varities apparently! colonialism and gold, as well as Coca leaf. The incas were really very inventive, well organised people with Irrigation and an ordered society, they however didn´t have much time for war and weaponry and this ended up with one of the more striking images of a spanish conquistador holding the Kings head. Cusco alwasys remained and was the largest City in this region, Peru, Bolivia, and northern Chile until the late 17th century, it also has a KFC, which was tough to avoid but we did. The walk up to our hostel never got easy and everytime we needed an hour to recover from it, I´d had a dodgy tummy for 2 or 3 days now and this continued thorughout Cusco. At night we stayed in the hostel , A LOT of Isrealis stayed there probably %70, the guys are arrogant and superficial and the girls are only interested in those type of men unfortunately. We got on with it and met some aussie, swedish, German and English people and drank with them for most of the 3 days leading up to Machu Pichu. An english guy had quit his job the previous afternoon and come up to meet up with his mates that were already out here, he was excited to be there and got heavily drunk and got in a fight with some Israeli guys, other than that everything was good fun and good natured.
The hangovers are brutal and the last night was a pirate themed event with lots of free rum, Jonny had machu Pichu the next morning at 4 am, I felt sick to begin with but went the free Rum fuelled me towards being really sick for 3 or 4 hours overnight and Jonny got 2 hours sleep before heading to Machu Pichu, I didn´t envy him at the time. My job that day was to transfer both big bags and my stuff to the Millhouse, down the hill, cheaper, with nicer rooms and a bit more laid back. This was easy and I got to the millhouse and checked in around 130 with a whole day to kill. I went to the Market and bought a bag of Coca leaves to try, as well as attempting to walk up to Sacsayhuaman. The coca leaves you chew and stick in the side of your mouth for hours like chewing tobacco, A lot of the indigenous people you see have there teeth worn down by this and while it did give you a nice kick, coffee like, the taste was nothing to write home about (although I am now, confusing) but helped with the hangover and motivation to climb the hill.
I set off and got about an hour and a half in before giving up as I was essentially in a shanty town and there back gardens, still got some really good views and went back to the hostel for soup, my daily meal, along with the amazing free “breakfast.” We´d booked our ticket to La Paz for that evening at 10 so I made conversation with an Aussie couple and some Americans in the baar until Johnny came back around 7ish. He looked sunburnt and excited, the pictures he had were amazing and he said it wa really worth the $150 or so it cost to go up there, I did envy him now but knew that money would have to be better spent in Boliva where we´d heard everything was much cheaper. We sat chatting to the people I was sat with and left around 10 for La Paz.