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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On to Cusco

On the last day in Nazca, Peru, Ingrid and I visited the Museo Arqueologico Antonini where many  treasures excavated from the ruins of Cachuachi are kept. The woven rugs, wraps and bags fascinated me the most, as they are often still amazingly colorful considering how ancient they are. Another marvel is how pottery so ancient can still exist as whole, and unbroken.
Look at the colors on these thousand year old woven bags
Strange, coiled, two-faced pushme-pullyou pot
After our museum visit, in the early afternoon Ingrid headed out to return to her work. We plan to meet up again in Cuzco next Sunday. Meanwhile I worked on my handwritten journal until it was time for me to catch the overnight bus to Cuzco.

My view on the overnight double-decker bus

 The bus was scheduled to leave Nazca at 9PM sharp, so as it was on Peruvian time, the bus pulled out of the station a little after 10 PM. Took me ages to get comfortable but eventually I nodded into slumber land and woke somewhere on the uphill climb to Cuzco the following morning.
There was a stop at a small town, which has me startled as I thought the town might be Cuzco, which it was not. An hour after that we stopped at another tiny town where everyone was expected to buy their breakfast.

The roadside village where we stopped for breakfast
I took my time getting off the bus as I am not a morning person wherever my locale is for the moment. Lots of passengers bought meals at the little shops and sat on the roadside for a fresh breakfast setting.  Most hoovered over this outdoor stove featuring the local fare of Incan corn cobs and beef knucles (or at least I think that's what it is). I must say, it took me ages to realize the gigantic corn kernels were just that - corn.
I would have leapt on this for any other meal than breakfast
My bus transport to Cuzco
The bus made it into Cuzco (and only three hours late!) where I successfully negotiated an undoubtedly still overpriced cab ride to Los Niños Hotel, where I had a reservation. 

The background story to the Niños Hotel is it was started by a Dutch woman for the purpose of funding the Niños Unidos Peruanos Foundation which supports Cusco's neediest children. Currently the Foundation cares for 600 children a day. During my week long stay at the hotel I saw many of the children in their little uniforms with book laden back parks, going to and from their lessons. Great, well behaved kids.  For me, the hotel was a wonderful & relaxing hacienda. 

Los Niños Hotel's pretty

There are two Los Niños Hotels; one with all the rooms named after boys, and the hotel I stayed at had rooms named after girls. The hotel I am in has rooms named after girls. I'm in 'Esmeralda'.  Because of a mix-up in reservations, I ended up in a 'share the bathroom' room. That is kind of a pain, but at least the shared bathroom is adorable and clean. Can we talk? One of the things that drives me nuts down there is you cannot flush toilet paper. Think about that... whatever is on toilet paper and all of it's icky contents have to go in little trash bins next to the toilets. That grosses me out in a manner that actually surprises me about myself. When did I get so damned dainty? I find myself longing for the ample plumbing and flushable toilet paper of  Los Estados Unidos .

My little room with its windowed door
I loved the deep set windows and their view of the courtyard
Now! Anything else getting to me? Uh.. yes... the altitude! I am sick as a pup, feeling slower than molasses in the arctic and every time I step in to the courtyard, the entire thing bleaches out and all I see is a fog of white for about 20 seconds. The bleaching of eyesight is the weirdest symptom of my body's version of altitude sickness, along with total weakness as I am not getting enough oxygen to fuel myself so I am as weak as a handicapped kitten. Am counting on this improving as the week progresses. I started taking altitude sickness pills the day before I arrived in Cuzco but so far it's not doing a thing.
The only Andean Condors
I saw n this trip - Cuzco garden decor

On Day two of my stay in Cuzco, I queried the hotelier about arranging a visit to Macchu Pichu. I was advised to visit Inca Connections downtown. So I braved an outing to get to the travel agent, hiring a cab and pitching a fit when the driver of the cab let me out downtown and as far as I knew, no where near the travel agency! I was as lost and frightened as that kitten I mentioned in the previous paragraph. But soon I rallied, and in my broken Españole, asked directions to Avenue El Sol. I tended to ask los Policias, and they pointed to all corners of the earth so ignoring them, after an hour or two I finally got myself to the correct avenue.  Eventually I found a little hole-in-the-wall tourista place and I decided one travel agent was as good as another, I took a seat to wait for the next available agent. Only after a few minutes did I look up and see the sign: Inca Connections. Nothing like some good old fashioned dumb luck. The next day, a lady from Inca Connections showed up at Los Niños. She gave me all my necessary paperwork, my federal permit and bus an train tickets. Amazing how much paper work was needed to arrange my Machu Pichu Visit for tomorrow.

I have hung around Niños Hotel, hoping my altitude sickness goes away, but so far no luck. I was lounging around the courtyard when I heard music that reminded me of the Sicily scenes in the movie the Godfather II. I first watched through the bars on the front gate, then went into the street to watch the procession pass. Then I followed everyone, ever so slowly up to the top of the hill. Interesting! Listen to a bit of this video and tell me you aren't waiting to hear Vito Corleone's gunshots.

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