I had an absolutely amazing time in Peru. Getting there and back was time consuming but it was worth every shitty bus ride to get there. If you read the two previous posts you can see the route I took and just how long it took me. Getting through Bolivia wasn’t so hard but it did take 2 days to get to Puno, Peru.
We stopped in Puno for the night before heading on to Cuzco. In Puno we found a sweet reggae bar that had a loft with pillows lining the walls and low tables. We immediately took over the whole space, playing jenga, dancing to the awesome reggae and playing a drinking game called shoulders. The bartender was friendly and often came up to chat with us and play jenga. He tried to play shoulders but it was a complicated game that we could barely explain to him in Spanish. Before we left he took us behind the bar for a group picture and thanked us for visiting Puno.
From La Paz to Puno we took a mini bus where we befriended a Swiss traveler on the bus named Tobias. He stayed with us for the duration of our trip and became my little swiss companion. Our group without Toby was 5 people, an odd number, making me the odd ball out. With the two frenchies inevitably pairing off, and my friend Dave and his roommate/new amante, I was the peanut butter without my jelly. Toby filled the gap in my jamless sandwich, rounded up the number and made the group more balanced. Needless to say, I am now adding Switzerland to my itinerary of places to go in the world in my immediate future. He sold me on it at the mention of cheese made in the mountains, fine chocolates and fondue. Also, his eyes were so bright and big how could I not just fall right into them and get carried away straight to Europe?
On a less romantic, more logistical note, there was no point for me to bring my laptop with me because I couldn’t find a single cafe or restaurant that offered WiFi (Ok I found one…but it was hella expensive to drink there). I ended up having to go to an internet cafe and use their super slow internet connections on their desktops and pay about $1 dollar an hour. LAME-O. I also hated showering in Peru because there was more or less no hot water. I was cursing the gods multiple times as I stood under the electric heated shower head trickling icicle drops of water down my back. Those are my only complaints of the whole trip. For now.
In Cuzco we went to a cool bar right next to our hostel called Bullfrogs. It was a giant old house with multiple rooms that each had their own unique decor. The main room had bean bags all over the floor and drinks with dragons inside. When walking up to the second level you could walk around the hallway that looked down into the main room. One room had an asian fusion with square cushions on the ground and low tables with mesh cloth dividers separating the tables and creating a really interesting space. Other rooms catered more to eating and had decoupaged tables with old cartoons. They had a live band singing covers. I took away so many great ideas for a bar from all of the places in Cusco, it was unbelievable.
Machupicchu is without a doubt 100% worth seeing. It didn’t feel too touristy even though they let in about 2,500 tourists a day. In the morning when we arrived there were barely any people there. We watched the sun rise and the clouds form rapidly and disappear just as rapidly over machupicchu while we laid in the grass and dozed in and out of a really relaxing group nap. It was quiet, peaceful and really mystical. The weather was perfect. Machupicchu was a maze of stone, the perfect playground for an adult. You will also find llamas grazing all over the mountain. For a good while I just sat there perplexed and wondered how exactly they built such a remote and extremely detailed city on a mountain in between other mountains using rocks that were not native to said mountains. It’s incredible. And my conclusion without reading any books: Aliens.
After Machupicchu we took a dip in the hot springs to ache our weary bones. We spent one more night in Aguas Calientes before heading to Ollantaytambo, a quiet little cobblestone town that I fell in love with. I convinced the group that we should stay for 3 days to relax and enjoy the silence. Toby and I snuck into the ruins at Ollantaytambo and found that while they were cool, they were not worth the supposed 70 soles that it costs to enter for real.
In Ollantaytambo Toby informed me that he would go with us as far as Urubamba and then he would stay and chill some more in the Sacred Valley while we continued back to Cusco. While I obviously respected his decision to go back to the independent traveling lifestyle, I was sad that we were parting ways. I had gotten used to him being a part of our group since he had been with us for basically the whole trip and I didn’t want to think about saying goodbye so soon. But I’m a big girl and I dealt with it how any big girl would: go out, get drunk, dance your ass off and just have a good time.
So in Cusco we decided to take advantage of the night life. That is one of the main draws of Cusco so I’d feel incomplete if I didn’t get drunk more than once while being there. Frenchies wanted to dance and I was down to boogy as well so we walked to the main plaza prepared to be mauled by bar promoters. The bars are really competitive with their drink specials and offering free drinks because there are so many of them. I really didn’t like the promoters so I ran into a McDonald’s to escape the crazy and try to figure out where I really wanted to go. We found a bar with good dance music and I swear to god I danced until my pants ripped. It was a-mazing.
I forgot to mention that before our booty-dropping bar experience, we stumbled upon a restaurant called Jack’s Cafe that served american breakfast all day long. OMG I wanted to die happy right there wrapped in crispy bacon, drenched in maple syrup using pancakes for pillows as I lay me down one last happy time. It seriously had everything I missed from the states (minus my mom’s delicious lasagna, kugel and egg bagel sandwiches). I didn’t care what anyone else did, I was eating here for every single meal until we left Cusco so that I could try every dish that I missed. Also, this wasn’t a shitty diner. It was food done right. It was delicious, refreshing and fucking…perfect. I don’t want to know how much I spent there in total but I can guess that it was the most expensive part of my trip. I didn’t care. MINT JUICE. They had mint juice! I was in awe. The experience as a whole was just delightful because it was more focused on customer service and doing things right. I’ve become so accustomed to the restaurants in Argentina that I have forgotten how much of a queen you can be at a restaurant.
After one night in Cusco, the frenchies decided that they wanted to go to Arequipa to see something new. I wasn’t ready to leave Cusco so I told them I would meet them there in a day. Unfortunately for them, they got stuck in a strike along the way and ended up on a bus for 30 hours when it should have only taken them 12. I also got stuck in Cusco for an extra night from these same strikes but I didn’t mind because I liked Cusco. When the frenchies left it was me, Dave and Silvia. After Toby left I was expecting to spend more time with the frenchies but they left me too and now I was the odd ball out again. Don’t get me wrong, chillin’ with Dave and Silvia was fun, but watching them be all cutesy only made me want to run to the Sacred Valley to find Toby again. Toby!!!!!!!!! Wo bisch????
On our last day in Cusco we went to Pisaq which is about an hour away. To me it was just a giant art market and another tourist trap and I was tired of spending money, especially when everything was the same everywhere and it wasn’t really made by the “artist”. We had some granola and yogurt. I ate a cookie. Dave and Silvia played some video games in the local arcade. Then we headed back to Cusco. I wanted to check my email because I was expecting to hear from the frenchies. To my surprise, Toby was online and was in Cusco! I thought, “what fate!” I was so happy, so excited that I could barely sit in my seat as I emailed him to meet up with me asap. It was a little strange for me because I haven’t been so giddy in a long time.
We met in the main plaza. As I waited for him some hippie tried to hit on me. “No hippie, I don’t want to buy your hair braids for sale or talk about our astrology signs or tell you my life story. I’m waiting for Suiza, I’m waiting for my jelly! Get the hell away!” When Toby arrived I was so flustered in a good way that I jumped up and busted my sunglasses all up in his face. Smooth move…whoops. Dave and Silvia met us in the plaza and we all decided to go check out buses together. Dave and Silvia decided to go to Lima that night and I bought my ticket to head back to Jujuy in the morning. As a hopeless romantic would, I attempted to convince Toby that Jujuy was a really cool place to visit next, even if it did take 2-3 days to get there and even though his plane was leaving from Lima in a week. He was almost convinced.
We grabbed some quick food and then headed to a bar for a drink. After a night of Spanish Scrabble with Dave and Silvia last night, I was feeling like a pro so I taught Toby how to play while we sipped on our weak and expensive rum and cokes. It was the perfect last night. I didn’t want to fall asleep because I didn’t want it to end. 9 am would come so quickly if I shut my eyes and then it would be back to reality. Why can’t I just float on a dream for the rest of my life? GAHHH.
The trip through Chile was long, expensive and uneventful. I ate a seafood crepe and had a cake with 7 flavors. I cursed Pullman bus service for charging me $76 for a 24 bus ride that had not one hot meal or any meal that wasn’t 100% sugar. I arrived to Jujuy, took a deep breath in the terminal and smiled with relief at the thought of being home.
Watch a video of some clips I took during my travels.