Dead on my feet but made it!

Trip Start Apr 24, 2008
Trip End May 29, 2008

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Friday, April 25, 2008

Well, it was a looong night at the Lima airport. Shortly after leaving the internet center I settled in at the food court but I could tell sleep would not be possible. Too busy, too many announcements, and I wasn´t willing to take my eyes off my bags. I had a nice conversation with a lovely South African couple....they are retired and traveling through Peru and Bolivia for 4 weeks. They had been up for 30 hours and weren´t at their destination yet either, so I guess I can´t complain! They were meeting their daugher in Arequipa and planned to hike the Inca Trail. They said, ¨We´re meeting our daughter...she´s like you.¨ I wonder...did they mean she´s traveling alone? 38 years old? Cute as a button? These are all possibilities.

They were nice enough to watch my bags while I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth, but then they left for their 4am flight. I moved down to the check-in area and waited for TACA to open their counter at 3:30am along with all the other gringos! I was desperate for some sleep, I felt like I was dead on my feet. I checked in (the best part is getting rid of the 30 pound backpack), wandered around a bit more and then headed to the domestic departure gates after paying the airport tax of $6.05. The gate area was busy but it was about 90 minutes before my flight...and the seats there had no arms so I welcomed the chance to lay down and close my eyes. Next thing I knew I opened my eyes, it was 15 minutes before my flight and there was no line at my gate! Oh no! I ran up to the counter and the TACA lady scolded me for being so late. I rushed out to the waiting shuttle to the plane, which was empty because everyone else had already boarded. They drove me to the plane and when I climbed the steps a man asked, ¨What is your last name?¨ I said, ¨West¨ and he nodded to the flight attendant. I boarded, sat in my seat and they closed the door. Whew! That was a close one! Even with all that excitement I couldn´t keep my eyes open...I fell asleep for most of the short 45 minute flight.

Arriving in Cusco was dramatic...we skirted the tips of the beautiful Andes mountains before touching down. I collected my bag and headed to the taxis. My choices were $40 for a taxi all the way to Urubamba, or about $7 for a taxi to the bus stop in Cusco where I could catch a $1.50 bus to Urubamba. Never one to make life easy, I took the latter and it worked out just fine. The bus was crowded and I have no idea why that surprised me. How many buses have Peter and I taken like this?! I got on and it was empty and I thought, ¨This is great, I can put my bags on the seat next to me.¨ Ten minutes later it was chock-full with people standing in the aisles. A woman and her young daughter practically stood between the legs of the lady seated next to me (very traditional Andean woman with the hat and apron and all). I fell asleep until the young girl started throwing up from motion sickness -- poor thing! I gave her a bunch of tissues. Luckily a big group of art students got off soon after that with their easels (at a bend in the road with beautiful views of the valley and surrounding mountains) and the girl and her mom got seats.

I hopped off the bus early, just after crossing the bridge over the Urubamba River like they told me to when I reserved last weekend. I found the hostel with no problem even though I was so tired I could hardly see straight. The hostel (Hospedaje Los Jardines) has the most beautiful grounds! They have a long, lush garden full of flowers of every color, thick grass and lots of plants. There are fun wooden chairs to hang out in too. They took me immediately to my room, which is a 2nd floor room with lots of light thanks to 3 skylights and a big window that overlooks the gardens. The mattress is very firm and the floor is old wooden, creaky planks. Outside my door is a neighbor´s lettuce crop and a sheep that baaaahs at me whenever I come and go! The owners speak no English but we communicate just fine. They offered me full breakfast in the morning for 8 soles (about $3) and I gladly accepted! The room is $15 per night so I´m pretty on target.

Well, I put my backpack on the 50´s looking couch in my room, washed my face, laid down and I was out like a light! I heard someone knocking on my door at some point but I ignored it. I slept from about 9:45am - 1pm. When I got up I took a shower and felt like a new person.

Leaving to grab some lunch, the duena called Michael for me so we could discuss bike tours. He´s an Australian that lives here and partners with the Hospedaje....he helps book their rooms over the web site, and they let him market bike tours and keep the bikes there. We made plans to meet a little later and I headed out to see Urubamba.

That took about 10 minutes, because there is nothing here to see! But I knew that when I decided to come here. It´s the surrounding area that is fascinating -- Maras, Moray and Salineras. I will be visiting all those on Sunday on the bike! Plus, there are magnificent mountains on all sides, so walking around and looking up is an experience itself. I found a place for lunch and enjoyed vegetable lasagna and just relaxed there a bit. It´s a hip type of place with couches, pillows, funky art and colorful walls. Then, with a full stomach, I headed back to the Hospedaje to meet Michael. We discussed biking on Sunday for a half-day tour which should be great. I hope I can manage...the altitude is affecting me slightly here, but not much. I find myself needing a deep breath once in a while. I should be fine by Sunday, and it will be good preparation for Cusco (much higher) and the Inca Trail trek which starts next Thursday.

That´s about it for today....tomorrow I´m having breakfast at 8am and then heading to Ollantayambo. It is a quaint town further down in the Sacred Valley with a massive Incan fortress to see. I originally had hostel reservations there but changed my mind when I found this place, saw a picture of the gardens and saw they do mountain biking tours. Here is the hostel (see the beautiful gardens!) and I am staying in the Matrimonial Amarillo room:

Hasta pronto!
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gothamgm on

South African Couple
I think they meant that their daughter had a boy haircut.

marthaj on

Glad it's going well
So glad the hostel is what you expected and that you're caught up on sleep!

Have a great weekend.

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