In between my parents’ visit and my departure from Chile, I went to Peru. I had found my friend Robert a super cheap round trip ticket on ATIflights.com from DC to Lima so we jumped at the chance to do some travelling for a week. The opportunity of getting a new passport stamp was not bad either.
We landed within an hour of each other and were soon greeted by our friend and host in Lima, John Mark Davidson. He and his family moved to Lima in mid-January with the mission of planting a church with the rest of their team. We stayed a few nights with them and even spent Easter in their home. I hadn’t eaten pancakes in the morning in quite some time and they were good!
While in Lima we enjoyed the history of the city, the food (Robert couldn’t get enough of the fresh juice at the local Wong), and the sights – Cerro San Cristobal, San Francisco Catacombs, Plaza de Armas, Chinatown, and Parque de la Reserva.
After Lima we boarded a flight to Cusco, the gateway city to Machu Picchu. We planned on arriving a couple days in advance to get acclimated to the elevation (Cusco actually sits at a higher elevation than Machu Picchu) and purchase are tickets for the train and entry to Machu Picchu. We lodged at Hostal Royal Frankenstein which had a warm, tropical interior with an iguana roaming around. Cheap too!
Our few days in Cusco were excellent. I thought it was just “some city” where you began your trip to Machu Picchu; boy was I wrong. Cusco had so much more to offer, no wonder it’s called the “Historical Capital of Peru.” Robert and I visited the many sites in and out of town while running around getting all of our train and park entrance tickets. Eating was an adventure. I recommend the following places:
Cuy: roasted guinea pig. If you enjoy eating a rodent that without all its fur looks like a roasted rat with many more chewy parts than substance then this is your dish. I could take it or leave. I lean towards the latter, but I tried it.
Going on advice, Robert and I took a local bus, much cheaper, to a town a few hours away to catch the train. It was a beautiful ride there but the train ride was not so great. We were misplaced in a car that was not meant for tourists. We arrived at Aguas Calientes, quickly found a decent hotel, had some dinner, and were asleep with enough time to get up early. Little did I know the next morning as we head up to and arrived at the park entrance that I had placed the wrong tickets in my backpack. To make a frustrating story short, I ran down the mountain in the pouring rain all the way back to Aguas Calientes to retrieve our tickets at the hotel. After about an hour I was back atop ready to enter Machu Picchu.
It was incredible. Absolutely worth the trip. We walked around the lower portion of the ancient city and then headed up Huayna Picchu, a mountain that rises above Machu Picchu and has a 400 person/day limit, to look over the entire site. It was a strenuous hike but the reward was more ruins atop the peak and a spectacular view. One only needs a few hours to take in Machu Picchu.
We headed down to take a train ride that we’ll never forget. Traditional dances and an alpaca fur fashion show are not that uncommon apparently on this train. It was a riot! We arrived at Ollantaytambo where we had the opportunity to visit another ruins site. By then, even though I pushed through it all, my legs were a bit upset from the “little jog” down the mountainside. I was feeling that for days afterwards.
We spent another day in Cusco. I was recovering from that run, but decided to take a bus nine kilometers outside the city to see some ruins and walk back. That thin Andean air must have got to me. I don’t know what I was thinking. The next morning we had our last breakfast at Trotamundos and caught our flight back to Lima. The rest of the day was spent relaxing with movies and a lunch of ceviche. The following morning Robert and I said goodbye to Peru and each other and headed back to our respective countries.
It was a good trip.