I left the Amazon basin in the cloak or darkness on a crowded bus at 7pm three nights ago. The bus meandered through the partly paved highway snaking past Andes, broken windows that wouldn’t shut and all. Needless to say, there was not much sleep to be had. But, I had my best friend in the seat next to me, and I was heading to Cusco, “the city of great food and impressive architecture”.
At 7:20 am the bus came to a stop, along with all the other vehicles on the highway and engines were turned off. Apparently, there was a strike that day and the locals had put up a roadblock that extended all the way to Cusco. Liz and I, being the crazy gringas that we are, packed a day bag and then started walking down the road.
We had obtained several estimates as to the length of our endeavor ranging from 2-6 hours of walking time. Once we reached the first roadblock I asked an older women dressed in a plain colored skirt, embroidered sweater and fine-looking hat what was happening. Turns out, the lakes in the surrounding areas had recently been bought and privatized now making it increasingly hard for people to afford the water to grow their crops. This roadblock was their response. I say good on em.
An hour into the walk we learned that the outskirts of Cusco was another 28 kilometers away. So be it! It was a sunny day, and we were singing songs, talking to locals along the way and enjoying the mountains surrounding us. The highway was littered with broken glass, rocks, trees and just about anything else one can throw into the middle of the road. There were even some dilapidated cars sprawled across the sun-baked pavement.
Yeah…so, four hours later, feet sore from walking on hard surfaces, and sun burned on our right sides…the spirits were not as high. My comment around that time of “we’re so close to Cusco I could smell the alpaca” did not go over well. Apparently blind optimism is not the best way to make a bad situation better. I knew Liz had kind of lost it when we came across a dead cat half-hanging out of a bag and she burst into hysterical laughter. I later found out that seconds before the gruesome sight she was thinking, “this could not get any worse”.
We finally made it to the end of the road blocks and hopped on a local bus to get to the center of Cusco, the Plaza de Armas. Something about not sleeping for two days and walking close to 25 miles made us…well…delirious. We missed our stop and ended up high in the hills outside of Cusco in some random town. Cool. It was actually a nice little tour of the outskirts of the city. Once we explained our situation to the driver and he controlled his laughter we got on another bus that took us to our stop. Found the hostel I was looking for and took a great big, desperately needed nap.
When I woke up, I was a brand new person. I grabbed my towel and flip-flops, headed to the wash room and took my very first hot shower in exactly 153 days. Water…sweet wonderful hot water actually exists. I´m not even going to describe the 10,000 different types of bliss my mind and body experienced while having that hot water shower. It was….stupendous.
Cusco..still the same ol´ Cusco. I love it here because of the people, food and the Incan walls. It also brings up mixed emotions of pain and confusion when I think of the history of how this city has been destroyed, manipulated and transformed in the last century… even in the last twenty years. I could write forever about it. Liz and I met an archeologist who went into great detail about the city’s history and archaeological sites she has been working on surrounding the city. I was beyond inspired by her knowledge. When she mentioned that she needed an assistant next year for her thesis in the Cusco area I stepped right up and a possible option. Never too many paths to learning I say.
So, that´s it for now! I´m finally heading to Mancora! I´m going surfing (if there are any waves)… and if not I´m going to relax like never before. Life…wonderfulness.