31.08.2010 15 °C
Thursday 19th August 2010
We arrived Thursday morning after our 13 hour bus journey through the Andes from Nazca. After all the twists and turns of the route, we hadn't managed to sleep much and were also extremely hungry. We took a taxi to Hostel Pariwana and after dumping our luggage, went to the bar for a traditional Phillidelphia Cheese Steakwich and a BBQ chicken burger washed down by the world's most amazing milkshakes (oreo and banana flavoured!) After exploring our hostel, a rennovated colonial building, we set out to explore Cusco. Cusco is a beautfiul city full of old architecture and original Inca walls and roads. There are an amazing amount of churches just around the city centre as well as fountains, monuments and Peruvian markets, all encased by stunning mountainous scenery. We spent a good few hours wandering the antique streets and navigating the dozens of tree lined plazas before eventually arriving back at the hostel.
That night there was live 'Peruvian' music on at the hostel, which turned out to be an American girl singing cover songs. We had a few beers watching the music (cocktails in Jaz's case) before heading out with two guys from our room to meet a few more friends at an Irish bar (Paddys). However on first appearances the bar seemed shut so we headed elsewhere (turns out the entrance is around the side). We were gutted that we didn't meet up with our friends (Graham, Lauren and Tony) one more time before they left South America. Keep in touch guys!
After being defeated by numerous closed popular bars (guidebook recommended), we followed one of the many guys trying to get us in to their bar. What followed was a real experience... We got our drinks (Peru Libres) and settled down to watch the traditional Peruvian band playing on stage and it wasn't long before the singer announced the arrival of some traditional dancers. What we saw were two guys and two girls in traditional dress, bouncing around incessantly, filled with energy! A paticular favourite move was the Peruvian head wobble (not its official name), where the girls wobble their heads from side to side faster than you could ever imagine possible. We watched this for about ten minutes before the dancers, exhausted, went for a well-deserved break and costume change. A while later they returned, dressed in scary dragon masks and going about dancing as they were before only a bit more aggresively. We all agreed that it was pretty creepy and by the end of it we had had enough of pan pipes and made our way to the well-recommended club 'Mama Africas'.
We spent a good few hours in Mama Africas dancing with old Peruvian men, drinking, being offered Cocaine, chatting to Colombian transsexuals and generally lamenting the music until, after a while, it was time to go home. We got into the first safe-looking taxi we saw outside and went back to the hostel. It was a good night.
Friday 20th August 2010
Today was spent exploring once again and buying yet more souvenirs for some of you lovely people. We lunched at Jack's (ace chips) and at 6pm we had a meeting with Pachamama Explorers about our Inca Trail. We were excited to finally meet the rest of our group, but after half an hour it seemed they were going to be late and we had a BBQ to get to at our hostel so our guide, Miguel, gave us a quick run-through of what the four days would hold, gave us our duffle bags and off we went, eager for food. Guess we'd just have to meet our group on Sunday.
Saturday 21st August 2010
Today was another of those rare days that we didn't spend together. Liam was off rafting down the River Vilcanota, taking on grade III rapids and Jaz was left to enjoy National Folklore day in Cusco city centre.
I (Liam) got up early for my pickup and two hour drive to the river. After reaching base camp and donning a fetching wetsuit, splash jacket, helmet and lifejacket combo we were ready for the water, although we had to drive a further twenty minutes upstream to reach our starting point. After a quick safety drill and a brief 10-15 minutes of training on calmer waters we were given the command 'all forwards' and off we went. The scenery we witnessed when rafting downstream was spectacular, although most of the time was spent making sure we didn't fall into the freezing cold water as some of the rapids were pretty challenging. After about two hours we reached base camp again and enjoyed the sauna facility (basically a boiler in a stone hut). We then got changed into our dry clothes and had lunch. Afterwards some of the group did some zip wiring but although it looked like good fun it was a bit too expensive for what it was considering I had already paid 50USD for the trip, which I booked through our hostel. It probably could have been done for cheaper but I don't think the equipment or guides would have been as good, and most of the other people had paid more than me anyway.
Back to Cuzco...
I (Jaz) had decided against rafting due to the sheer expense, the fact we had just spent 330 pounds on a flight change and the fact that I wanted to go horseriding that day instead. Horse riding didn't happen due to a lack of people, but it is probably just as well seeing as how it was the day before the Inca Trail and I woke up full of a cold.
My day started by withdrawing loads of money and going to pay off the balance on our Inca Trail...not fun! Next I was given licence to go shopping and get us beanie hats, baby wipes, sugary things, toilet roll and other such Inca Trail related necessities. It was during my trips that I crossed the main square and bumped in to hundreds of people and a parade. A man on a microphone informed the crowd that it was National Folklore Day, so I went off to get my camera and returned five minutes later, eager to take photos of the indigenous dress and dances. It was amazing to see the different clothing and music and really feel a piece of Peru. And the clothes were amazing.
Liam got back at about 6pm and that night we moved to a different, quieter hostel for a good nights sleep before our early start and hardcore next four days. We made a simple noodle dinner and were in bed by midnight, eager for the next few days of trekking.
More to come on the Inca Trail. Hope everybody is well,
Jaz and Liam xxx