June 7, 2016 – The Lost Days
First segment drafted at 11:27 AM (I think)
I have no idea what day or time it is. The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s anthem, “Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!” floats though the haze of my mind.
Yesterday… Or maybe even just earlier today if today is 36+ hours long… We got up, had breakfast, went to the airport and flew to Santiago. That’s the long and short of it. It wasn’t exactly an action packed, rock ’em, sock ’em day. I was exhausted though pretty much the whole day and I think the reason is I was and incredibly dehydrated.
Upon arriving at SCL, we got Mom checked in for her flight home and I began the weird nightcrawler existence of waiting around to check in for my 6 am flight to Cusco, Peru.
Here are some stray notes I tapped into my iOS app:
On the flight from Santiago to Lima, the meal choices were scrambled eggs or omelette. On a plane, can anyone tell the difference? Especially when I’m handed the scrambled eggs option and inside is a congealed egg structure that, um, might be considered an omlette if one had never heard the term before and were an alien visiting a breakfast focused society and were handed a tray of this and told it was called “scrambled eggs” or “omlette” as if the words were synonymous and meant, um, this.
In the Lima airport, I order from a menu that bills itself as offering “The Last Pisco Sour.” In my final texts with Mom who is just about to board her flight to get back to the States, she tells me SHE has seen a place through security offering “Really… the Last Pisco Sour.” Truth in advertising is only a version of the truth.
As I sit at my bar table in the restaurant passing time for baggage check-in, the football match runs long and patrons cheer and boo as the thrilling soccer game sees Argentina shellack the Chilean National Team with a decisive 2-1 victory.
I meanwhile enjoy too many empanadas, papas fritas, a Pisco Sour, and Purple Rain on my iPad:
I spend my last 1000 Chilean Pesos on a bottle of Coca Cola Light. I post to Facebook that my Coke habit has really gotten expensive.
With an hour to go before baggage check-in, I loop the terminal for 3 miles, back and forth. At first I was on the arrivals level but kept getting accosted by the “Taxi, Senor? Taxi?!” exhortations. They were only annoying me and I was only annoying them by declining every 0.35 miles as I past the point repeatedly; I finished my circuits on the check-in level.
I finally check my bags in around 3:45 AM and head through security. As I sit at the boarding gate, I bump into various MarathonTours guests who are also headed to Cusco for their own Machu Picchu extension. People predominately seem genuinely glad to see me and that’s always nice.
As I wander the terminal and grab a LlamaSelfie courtesy of an MS-Kinnect powered kiosk, I’m interrupted by an annoying grade school girl who thinks it’s fun to type in random letters on the giant onscreen keyboard as I’m trying to type in my email for the photo to be sent to my address. The first time was cute; the third time I wanted a real llama to spit in her face. That’s what they do sometimes – that’s not me being completely awful. When I finally received the image in my email, I have to assume that little girl invents a time machine and goes back to prevent me from taking a photo — how else to explain the Back To The Future style “Erased from existence!” pic?
Parched and concerned about the altitude of Cusco only contributing to feelings of light headedness, I break down and buy a 600 peso water. It’s highway robbery but it’s a necessary expense. I have to charge it as I’m out of pesos.
The Lima to Cusco plane’s tray is… Sticky. I’m not sure what was spilled or how many times something has spilled on this thing, but the shellacking reminiscent of Argentina’s soccer team over Chile renders the tray’s usefulness to me as, um, lacking.
At some point in the airport as I await my luggage, I am able to get free WiFi. TravellingFit asks if I can do a call with them when I get back to go over the things that went horribly, horribly awry on Easter Island. I commit to constructive feedback and setup a time that takes into account the time zones.
Post Script: when I do have the conference call about a week later, they are very apologetic and thank me not only for taking the time to provide feedback but for showing consideration of the time zones for scheduling the call.
Throughout the morning’s flights, I’ve had that feeling of nodding off in mid stream, only to jerk my head awake at the realization I’m losing consciousness. There will be a nap in my future in Cusco. Of that I’m 1000% sure… And not Chilean peso exchange rate sure; we are talking xenophobic, patriotic pride in US figures surety. As Christian, our Easter Island tour guide, once explained to my mom when we asked about currency rates and how local businesses often accepted US dollars, “US dollars is the BEST dollars.” True, true, says the arrogant American tourist, raising his voice to be heard and understood because, ya know, EVERY language barrier can be overcome by shouting slower and louder.
The food on this short hop to Cusco was, um, JetBlue-Ian in quality — junk food treats and tasty, but truly junk food. A bag of 130 calorie plantain chips and a 190 calorie four pack or Oreos. I scarfed them down even though I regret now doing so; with dehydration and a sedentary 36 hours, I think something of substance is really in order. Perhaps before my nap.
June 7, 2016 addendum
I walked a bit of Cusco. They’re celebrating a month long festival of Cusco so there’s something seemingly always going on in the various plazas and squares.
But first, I decide to have a nice lunch, courtesy of the Tour Guide’s recommended 1st floor establishment – Chicha. I stuffed myself silly: first with a personal pizza that was really designed for a personal entourage rather than one person, then with a complimentary Monty Python Mr. Creosote thin mint-ish level chocolate alfajore that was like the best Tim Tam ever.
Even with my hotel provided map, I got turned around and was entirely in the opposite direction of where I thought I was going. But getting lost is part of the traveling adventure. And Cusco is a fun, seemingly safe place to get lost. I was in a few alleys that might have given me pause elsewhere but they were filled with uniformed school kids dragging overstuffed backpacks, their homework in hand, crumpled, a universal student look. On top of that, folks were selling slices of cake from their pop up food cart wagons. An alley where people are selling cake can’t be too scary, right?
I did swing by a post office to mail a card to my mom. I found a weird one that hopefully she’ll find amusing. The card was 1 sol and I waited to buy a stamp. Confusion reigned as the woman in front of me needed change because the post office couldn’t break a twenty sol note. None of us in line could do so as I imagine most of us had just gotten cash out of the ATM. Finally the three Americans behind me were able to cobble together coins to make up 20 sols and the transactions concluded. The woman didn’t even say gracias to the gaggle of Thomas Cookian money exchangers.
For the record, my air mail post card stamp to Los Estados Unidos was 6.50 sols.
After scoping out some potential souvenir options and figuring out a few landmarks for the next time I’m strolling the streets of Cusco, I thought I’d head back to my hotel and send a few emails. Stuffed from lunch, I figured I’d do something super, super light for dinner.
And that’s when I bumped into Jacqui in the city square. Small world. She was headed to meet the Marathon Tour group at the Incan Trail Grille, another of KT’s restaurant recommendations. I originally begged off as it was still early for even my light dinner plan but ultimately decided what the heck? I’d have a pisco sour.
And boy did I!
As has been the case throughout this journey, my fellow runners are always welcoming and delightful company. Despite being an interloper and shunned for using some other tour group, they were still welcoming and delightful. Plus they even let me try a bite of alpaca and Guinea pig. The latter was a tougher piece of meat and the latter very much crispy pork belly- ish.
As the “Cuenta” came due, mine was 24 sols for the one drink or about $7.50 US. I threw in 30 sols expecting to get change and a copy of my receipt but the server took it and never came back. I guess tip wasn’t included and it WAS a large group. Still more than the money, I was bummed about not getting that 24 sol receipt for a drink!
As dinner broke up, folks went their separate ways. I strolled the plaza with Jacqui and Tim for a bit as it was only just 6 pm. We caught the lowering of the flag ceremony, complete with goose stepping uniformed escort. Jacqui pointed out the illuminated hillside, something out of the French Rivera that I tried to capture using my camera’s night shot setting.
From there we all separated and I went off in search of my 5 sol waffle cone gelato place I had seen earlier. And I found it:
So with my dinner consisting of a huge pisco sour and a three scoop gelato (Oreo, dulche de leche, and tres colores), I finally headed back to the hotel to try and catch up some on my Zs.
Tomorrow – The Sacred Valley!