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A Week In The Inca Heartland With Our New Travel Companions

semi-overcast 18 °C


I am extremely excited to announce that I am writing this post to you from the Dominican Republic... OUR FINAL DESTINATION!! Yep our last country of the trip and only days away from the big reunion and less then a week away from the 'big day'. Crazy... we talked about it a lot during our flight today from Lima and it's pretty hard to wrap our brains around... but enough about that... I don't have a North American plug for my Macbook and I only got 68% of my battery left so I gotta get this one finished quick (lost our charger in South Africa so now we have a Europe one).

From Nazca we took a night bus and arrived in Peru's tourist capital early in the morning. We were both pretty excited to relax and explore the town in preparation for the arrival of our new guests. We found ourselves a hostel close to the heart of Cusco which is the Plaza De Armas. No shortage of churches here...


Quite the picturesque city set in the valley. Cusco sits pretty high up too (3400m) but thankfully by this point we were quite used to the altitude (unless your faced with stairs lol... cause those still kick you in the ass!)

But finally after two days of killing time (mainly in markets and coffee shops... I can't get enough of good coffee after all the Nescafe I've ingested lol) our guests arrived early in the morning (6:30am) and we're pretty damn exhausted after their long flights (awake for 30 hours plus... yep that sucks!). But they were both troopers and came out with us for breakfast and to explore the town.


My cousin Cassandra and her husband John. We both can't stress enough how great it is to have travel companions. Yeah!!! We have other people to talk too lol. Trust me it is so exciting to have other people join us on our travels and have them see and experience what we are backpacker style.


Some of our first views out and about... we even got to watch some type of parade/ceremony.


The most scared rock in Cusco... can't remember exactly why but one reason was because it has 16 sides... the rest I forget lol.


John trying coca leaves for the first time... you gotta get a pretty big wad in your mouth for it to go numb.


I know... lets make John do everything cliche in his first few hours lol. Coca leaves... check. Alpaca hat...


They are soft and warm but I'm pretty sure he won't be wearing one of those out to the lease anytime soon lol. So we booked into a hostel that is pretty notorious for it's party scene but which also has some amazing views of Cusco. Stacey and I went to check it out a few days earlier and the manager showed us around and booked us a deluxe suite for Cass and John... the downside... a big ass hill...


The picture doesn't capture it all but trust me, at that altitude it was a bitch! The hostel was a pretty cool building in of itself also. 300 year old mansion...


Cass and John's room that had a 300 year old mural on the wall...


And the epic view from their bathroom...


After a good first night of partying (Loki Hostel was pumping and the LaGreca's are troopers lol) we took Cass and John to a local market to do a little shopping and to see all the classic market sights.


In that last picture notice the green bags of leaves in the right corner? Those are coca leaves and they sell those bags for about 1 sole. Remember kids (this is from my trip to the Coca Museum in Bolivia) it takes 18kg of leaves to make 4kg of base (crack) and 4kg of base to make 1kg of cocaine. That's a lot of little green bags lol. The market also featured a butcher or several butchers... this always makes for some fun pics lol...


Yum... this is what we were served in Bolivia during a bus ride... is it stomach or intestine? I'm still not sure...


Trust me it smells as bad as it looks... but tastes neutral lol. Peru does however really have some amazing food and dishes. One of the national specialities and my personal favourite is called Ceviche. Raw trout cured in lime, garlic and onions. Delicious!


Another Peruvian specialty (and one we're learning to make when we go home) is a type of potato cake (you'll see in the pic what I mean) but I can't remember the name...


All it is is layers of potato with chicken and avocado salad in the centre, garnished with olives, avocado and mayonnaise. Devine. Another simple but tasty dish that is often placed on your table before the appetizers is just roasted corn kernels...


And finally how could you travel to Peru without trying it's most popular specialty... Coy... or in english the guinea pig lol... Bon appetite.


Your probably thinking what I'm still thinking... where's the meat? Ya well there isn't much but it was pretty tasty. We were even treated to live music throughout dinner. Those guys had the ladies just dancing away with their pan flutin' beats...


Time for some excursions... Stacey and I have just been dying on this trip to do some rafting and unfortunately due to some bad weather amongst other things, we were unable to up to this point. Luckily Cusco has several nearby rivers and a few reputable rafting companies, so we booked in for a days trip of white water rafting.


Here's a picture of our starting off point...


This was both Cassandra and John's first time rafting so we were both pretty excited for them to get a taste. We both just love it and always recommend and rave about our experiences on the Kicking Horse River in B.C. The river near Cusco featured a bunch of class 3 rapids and loads of great scenery. Our team...


Let the rapids begin...


The river was a lot of fun as was our guide. At one point he even maneuvered the raft so we could sit in this rapid and surf it with the nose of the raft. A lot of fun but my God that water was cold!!


Our guide definitely made the trip cause he was always moving the raft this way and that to get us wet and scared...


At one point we even got to stop and all the guys did a cliff jump into the river.


There were quite a fair share of rapids the entire stretch of our run which lasted around 2 hours.


Our end point where we stopped and had lunch.


Okay so what kind of a trip would it be without a little drama? Unfortunately Cassandra and John had to experience it but hey it did all work out. What happened was because the only way to reach Machu Picchu is by train and because said train is extremely busy in high season (our summer), I had to book both our entrance tickets and train tickets in advance in Arequipa to secure our spot on the exact day we wanted. Well... the travel agent I used seemed pretty reputable (office in the heart of downtown with loads of foreigners popping in and out) and booked us both bus tickets and our Colca Canyon trekking but he had promised to deliver us our train tickets to Cusco... this was the problem. He initially promised to have them delivered the day Cass and John arrived and they didn't come. I emailed him. He responded saying they'd be two days late. We went rafting. They didn't arrive. By this point we basically had one days leeway to receive the tickets or find other options. Other options were not an option for me since I already paid the loser $640! Ya... cause for concern and I wasn't about to screw up Cass and John's trip either. So unfortunately I had to bite the bullet and skip out of the following days festivities to deal with deuche bag travel agencies. Basically what happened was that I kept sending this guy emails and he would either reply 'don't worry' or wouldn't reply at all, and then I would call him demanding the tickets or at least an address where I could pick them up in Cusco. To this he would again just say don't worry, and 'I have no office in Cusco', and 'they arrive the night before'. Needless to say I got worried and ended up going to every train office in town (3) and checking if there were tickets registered to my name (I had to send him copies of all our passports weeks before so he could book us the tickets). Well guess what? No tickets!!! Yep... very worried that we just got robbed. The only reason I bought tickets ahead of time in the first place was because they can sell out... a point he kept reminding me about when I paid him weeks ago!!! So the day before we're slated to leave I ended up going to the iPeru office (a government agency that acts as a mediator between travel agents and clients) and got the lady to call him and tell him I'm going to the police unless I get my tickets now. Well all of the sudden yes he does have an office in Cusco and I can pick the tickets up right now. And I did... when all I wanted to do was go back to Arequipa and strangle that cock sucker (pardon my language but I'm still upset). Why I'm so upset... because I had to miss out on an entire day of sightseeing in the Scared Valley to deal with bullshit. Oh well Machu Picchu was WELL WORTH IT! But these next pictures will lack a lot of insight because I wasn't there :(


Views of the valley from the bus tour...


Before lunch the gang had a stop at a local market...


Apparently the house they eat lunch at was quite beautiful. The buggers actually tried to down play the lunch and say I didn't miss out on much... Awwgh they love me.


I guess there was quite a lot of wildlife there too...


Cassandra trying to pet a sweater... I mean alpaca lol.




The tour also included a stop at a local corn brewery. The three amigos got to try corn beer and strawberry corn beer...


Next was a stop at a guinea pig farm... ya these guinea pigs aren't sold as pets... the look tasty lol.


Stacey's favourite... flowers...


I guess the gang also met an Austrian couple on the bus who brought along their own home-made brew... Yummy!


The day tour also featured a stop in Ollytaytambo which is the starting point of the Inca Trail (the main tourist one anyways) and features several Inca ruins as well as some very famous terraces. I did get to see the town the following day on our way to Machu Picchu and it was gorgeous.


Views from up on the terraces...


You see this not just at Ollytaytambo but at all of the Inca terraces... stairs.


The last stop of the day trip was at a different ruin site which was actually torn down by the Spanish (you damn Spaniards and your plundering lol) and was used to build churches... like this one.


Remnants of the ruins (not sure of the name... wasn't there :( lol)


That's all I got for Cusco and the Scared Valley. Up next our second last blog post... can you believe it!! But we're saving the best for last... Machu Picchu! Trust me you don't want to miss this one cause it didn't disappoint one bit! I'm still amazed by those views! But first I got to make it to our resort. One last bus ride tomorrow and possibly a little hitchhiking and BAM... travels are finito. BUT we are finally reunited with my brother and his family and we both finally get to meet our new little niece Sadie who just celebrated her first birthday! This is going to be one very exciting week!

Posted by ttbwarren 15:58 Archived in Peru

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