Thursday, August 7, 2014
We are leaving Cusco today. We saw more of it than intended, but we could have easily stayed longer. It is a nice city and a good base of operations to see the Sacred Valley and many archaeological ruins.
Our plane did not leave until 2:30 PM, so there was no need to wake up at the crack of dawn. We slept until 7:00 AM, got up, and started packing. We spent three nights in this hotel, so we had time to spread our gear to kingdom come and back; packing took a while. Also, we had bought some souvenirs, just enough to take each of our bags to the 50 pound limit. We had to keep weighing the bags and taking a little out of one and putting it into another before we got all three under the limit.
Last views from our terrace:
Check-out was at 10:00 AM, so we tucked our bags into storage and went down to Plaza de Armas just to sit on the park benches and relax.
Down the hill we go. Look at the Inca stonework on the left:
Genene creates a bit of a sensation here. The first time we observed it was with Carlos on the day trip to Ollayantaytambo last week. Families want to have their photos taken with Genene. I am not talking about the people who dress in traditional garb and try to get you to pose with them and their lambs or llamas and then ask for money. These are regular Peruvian people in street clothes. It looks like they are on holiday themselves, with cameras dangling from their necks. Many of them politely ask if they can have a photo with Genene. Carlos explained that her blonde hair and blue eyes are what the people find interesting. Anyway, today in Plaza de Armas, Genene was like a rock star. She quit counting at the 13th request for her photo. Entire families would crowd to the bench. They would sit their smallest children down next to Genene. A couple of times we saw people “sneaking” pictures. They would ease around behind the park bench and pretend to put the cathedral in the shot, but you could see the photographer and the subject communicating as if to say, “Get closer to the girl.” Genene said that she did not like it, but I was flattered on her behalf. It also makes me stop and think. I often sneak photos of local people myself. I try to use the telephoto lens and capture them without their knowing. Is it rude? I don’t know, but we experienced a bit of turnabout in the plaza today.
How in heaven’s name did they carve a stone like this and fit it into this wall?
We got back to the hotel and sat in the lobby, waiting for Carla and drinking coca tea. Carla arrived on time and gave us our paperwork for the next part of our journey. Today, we will be traveling to Juliaca via airplane, then to Puno and finally to Lake Titicaca. She gave us our plane tickets and told us that she would be turning us over to a colleague in Juliaca for the remainder of our journey. Carla has become a daily fixture for us. We will miss her calm presence. I still cannot believe that she sat in that endoscopy room with us, translating and taking care of us. She is phenomenal. We took our picture together at the hotel before departing.
The airport in Cusco was clean and bright. We were able to get a light lunch of ham and cheese croissants for all three of us for 18 soles (about $6.31). I dare you to do that in an American airport. While standing in the line for the croissants, I got annoyed with an American lady ahead of me in the line. She was asking 20 questions about how the various croissants were prepared: did they have meat? did they have cheese? I mumbled some ugly words under my breath, “@#$@#$, lady, it’s a croissant. This isn’t fine dining. Just order something!” A young Japanese man just ahead of me in the line starting laughing. I apologized to him for saying ugly things and he quickly replied, “No, it’s okay. I feel the same way.” I forget sometimes that English is spoken and understood by many, many people throughout the world.
It began to rain in Cusco, and the weather had everything backed up. Our flight was delayed by an hour, so we did not get to Juliaca until the late afternoon. Our local guide and driver were waiting for us, and it was easy to get our bags and get on the road.
The drive to Puno took about an hour, and we really feel as if we are at the edge of civilization. Juliaca looked much more “rustic.” The buildings were smaller and built more like shanties.
Our hotel is on the edge of Lake Titicaca. We arrived at night. We are leaving early for Suasi Island, so we will not get much time to enjoy this beautiful place.
A few quick views of the shores of Lake Titicaca, as seen from our hotel:
We sail at 7:00 AM tomorrow, so there is not much rest for the weary. Lake Titicaca awaits!