Rain and Mountains in Aguas Calientes

I’m sitting here in a little pueblo lounge in Aguas Calientes, sipping coffee, listening to the rain and watching the people go by. Things have been happening a million miles a minute and it’s nice to just sit and write. There is a big ass mountain to my left, and to my right, and well, all around me. I feel small in the world.

I’ve just finished a beautiful lunch of beef empanadas and squash soup:

Ok, and maybe one of these…

Food in Peru has been unexpectedly over-the-top delicious. So far we have tried: Alpaca, Cuy (Guinea Pig), Mate tea, Pisco Sours/Pisco Punch, Maize everything, Andean cheeses and a Quinoa salad to name a few. I’ll post more food pics when I get back because wifi is too slow here.

Last night we went out and enjoyed the nightlife in Cuzco (believe it or not, they DO have a bar/club scene). I would say about 1/3 of the people in the clubs were tourists though. We spent a couple of hours practicing Spanish with the local bartender. He was very curious about los Estados Unidos and seemed to think that Las Vegas was our capital. 🙂 The club started with salsa dancing and about halfway through the night switched to a mix of US pop and randomly, some 80s beats mixed in… ♪ Hold the Line! Love isn’t Always on Time… ♫ We also sampled the local cerveza, of course.

This morning we woke up early to catch the train bus to Ollantaytambo. We’re learning so many little things…like even though our train tickets say “Cuzco to Machu Picchu”, you really have take a 2-hour bus ride up and down the mountainside first (sometimes above cloud level)…and oh, did I mention there are no rails preventing you from dipping down those clips? From Ollantaytambo we took the most beautiful train ride in my entire life to get to Aguas Calientes. To our left was the great and powerful Urubamba river. I felt like I was in the middle of a Lord of the Rings movie. There is so much beauty I honestly can’t keep up.

When we arrived in Aguas Calientes we had a porter from our hotel meet us at the train station and carry our bags for us. It’s tough to say so soon, but I think this little town is going to be my favorite! It’s got that close feel, like the streets of Venice, but very safe. The train tracks are the only way in and out. No cars. Cute little restaurants and cafes all over. I spotted a sign for “inca stone massage and reflexology” that I may have to take up.

Right now it’s siesta time – we have an early wake up call (5am-ish) tomorrow so we can catch Machu Picchu for the sunrise. I have seen so much in this country worth noting already. I have this strange feeling that although Machu is touted as the highlight, there are many undiscovered (or unpublicized) treasures waiting to be found.

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Cuzco, so far…

HolyCultureShock! I’m in Peru! It’s incredible! Every time I travel I think “god, I have to find a way to travel more, I can’t believe what I’ve been missing!” This trip is no different. Every minute seems like an eye-opening experience. I’m doing all I can to take it in and not miss a single beat. It’s hard, but I’m up for the challenge.

We’re currently in Cuzco. It was a windy, stormy, and lightning-filled ride in. A little scary, but we made it! At el aeropuerto we were bombarded by locals selling us everything from tours to anti-altitude sickness pills. It was honestly a bit overwhelming and quite an effort to get out of the crowd. We followed a girl who promised us a taxi and she took us through the hoards of people. We arrived at what appeared to be a regular old car, and a very nice gentleman named Hilario took us to our hotel for 10 Soles. This was my first experience where I actually had to speak Spanish, as opposed to everywhere else where everyone seems to know English.

The cab ride was a little crazy. Cars drive fast and there seems to be no real laws for pedestrians. We did some exploring and had a fabulous dinner of alpaca and risotto (the alpaca was a little too smokey and game-y for my taste, but the risotto was a treat!). After a little shopping and a night walk, we slept for 14 HOURS! Call it jet-lag, call it adjusting to the high altitude, but I absolutely needed the sleep.

Today was spent exploring the Plaza de Armas, watching the many parades, going on a hike to the Sacsayhuaman ruins (aka “Sexy Woman” to the locals), and of course, a food crawl! My wifi is incredibly slow here so I cannot post many pictures. I’ll leave you with one on our hike today. I’m a big fan of getting lost and wandering around. Will update more when I can. Xoxo, D