Wednesday, May 2, 2012

C(A)PJ: Day 4

We just arrived in Cuzco.  The hotel is awesome.  We have hot water, heat electricity for more than four hours in the evening, and toilet paper we can actually flush down the toilet.  Don’t get me wrong; I loved the jungle, but it made me realize how much we take for granted. Plus, after two nights under a mosquito net, everything from here on out is going to seem swanky by comparison.

Right now, we’re supposed to be resting for two hours to adjust to the altitude (11,000 feet!), but my brother is having a lot of trouble working the shower, despite the straightforward instructions to wait five minutes for the hot water.  We drank coca tea a few minutes ago, which is supposed to help with altitude sickness, too.  That’s tea made from the same plant used to make cocaine.  Seems like there are a lot of things that could fix, if you ask me.

A surprisingly good picture of the sloth
This morning, we got to sleep in for an hour—we woke up at five, instead of four.  We packed up and took a three-hour boat ride all the way to Puerto Maldonado, because last night’s rain made the bus ride too risky.  We saw a sloth, sort of.  He was very far away and—get this—wasn’t moving around too much, but Esteban was borrowing people’s cameras to take pictures through his binoculars. Mine, which has been on its last leg for a day or so, died, so I haven’t seen them yet.

At the airport, I bought brasilnuts because my sister and I had eaten so many of her free samples that I would have felt guilty just walking away.  They taste pretty good.

When we landed, the temperature was pretty surprising.  It’s chilly here!  We were met by another sign, this one with a woman attached to it.  Her English is good, but when I have a question, I ask it in Spanish.  She answers slowly enough that I can understand her easily.  She quelled our worries that hiking the citadel was perilous and scary, saying that four hundred people do it a day and that if you’re slow, it takes and hour and twenty minutes.  So we’ll definitely be doing that.

Cuzco is my favorite city so far.  I mean, okay, so basically my choices were Lima and Cuzco, but Cuzco is still awesome.  We were musing about how European it felt, and that it was also similar to New Orleans.  The common thread hit us like the Golden Corral frying pan:  Spanish influence!  I wonder how you say “duh” in Spanish.  We ate dinner at the restaurant suggested by the guy at the front desk and it was awesome.  For the rest of the evening we shopped.  In fact, before we even made it to the restaurant, a woman with a lot of hats and belts and a baby on her back attacked us and managed to sell my sister a hat, which she was glad to have after sunset when it went from chilly to cold.  We took pictures of the woman and her baby, and I think I’m going to paint her when I get home.

The woman and her baby
My mom and I walked into one shop and I fell instantly in love with a cream-colored alpaca fleece sweater with a tag that read “135.”  It wasn’t until I was pulling it over my head that I learned it was 135 USD, not soles.  So about two and a half times more than I’d thought.  But it was too late, I was in love.  I haven’t taken it off.  But I owe my mom $135 because I didn’t have enough with me to pay for it.

After that we had coffee and dessert at a place across the street.  There were three guys at the table behind us, and I turned around and asked where they were from.  The answer was a heavily accented “England.”  I immediately lost all ability to think clearly and proceeded to embarrass myself and totally contribute to the idea that all Americans are total morons.  I’m not going to record the exact details of that, because I’m really hoping to forget.

On the way back to the hotel, we passed a whole bunch of young people dancing in groups.  One group looked like they were dancing more traditional Inca dances, while the other group, divided into boys and girls, were dancing something more contemporary-looking that involved a lot of shouting.  It was really cool, because, based on the lack of any real audience, it didn’t seem like they were doing it for the tourists (which are in abundant supply here), but like they had maybe just gotten together to dance for fun.

Back at the hotel, my brother took about ten seconds to figure out how to work the TV, and about ten minutes to figure out that everything’s in Spanish.  Who would have thought?  Maybe he’s learning something.  Now we’re watching The Lightning Thief in Spanish.  It is the single most epic thing I have ever seen.
That's a staircase, folks.
La Plaza del Armas in the middle of Cuzco

No comments:

Post a Comment