Updated: Dec 13, 2021
Monday September 13 Puno to Cusco
We were up at 6am. I slept well and woke up feeling better. No headache. We had tea with cocoa leaves- 4 cups and took our altitude meds plus vitamins. Martin and I took a cab to a fruit market. Yay! I bought satsuma oranges, bananas, apples, grapes, and jackfruit. I added some of it to our breakfast at the hotel. We had scrambled eggs today.
We took a luxury bus at 9:30am. We are heading to Cusco and should arrive about 5pm. We see now that the bus schedule is not entirely accurate. Sometimes they come close to leaving on time and we usually arrive 1 to 2 hours later at our destination. It’s ok. A bus ticket is only $35 soles ($8.75 US) for a 386.5 km ride. That’s pretty amazing I think. We will be staying in Cusco for the rest of our time-minus 5 days when we are on the Inca Trail and the last night in Lima. It looks like our trek will be on 9/23-27 not starting on 9/19 like we thought. Things sometimes change as we go…we need to be flexible when traveling. I feel like it makes it more interesting. We both are hoping to get our altitude sickness under control by then. That’s 10 more days. I think it will be fine.
The bus made a long stop in the large trading city of Jiliaca. It changed from an empty bus to a packed one….in a hurry. The people getting on had lots of goods to take back. Jugs of stuff, bread in large bags, material, yarn…. loads and loads! Martin also brought a large package along for Marlon (the hotel owner) to deliver to Cusco. There were many kids who mainly sat in their parents’ laps. It was noisy but not too bad. I listened to my books. Slept. Looked outside at the landscape changed to tall mountains. We drove through a large canyon along a river for the last few hours to Cusco. That was very pretty. We had to stop at 1pm for road construction-single lane. We were only there for about 30 minutes, but the bus unloaded and there were vendors selling food! Martin bought some spareribs and potatoes. He seemed to enjoy it. We ate some of our mandarins, bananas, and apples. We were good.
We ended up getting into Cusco at 6:30pm Right on schedule! 1 and ½ hours late. Hee hee. We next found a cab to go to the place we were staying. We came to a large metal gate and were met by the owner of the property, Heradio. Heradio is another tour guide and friend of Martin. This was a last-minute change. We were supposed to have an apartment and I was hoping for a pool or at least a nice bathtub. Heradio was super friendly and invited us in. He said we could have access to the entire house as it was empty. He’s Peruvian and his wife is German. They mainly live in Germany. He comes to Peru to do tours 4 to 6 times a year. His travel agency is located in Berlin, so his clients are mainly German. Heradio speaks German, French, English, Spanish and Quechuan.
He showed us our room and it had a king-size bed!!! Nice. We have mostly been sleeping on doubles and we both like more room. There is a bathtub in this ginormous house. A small kitchen with supplies. It has a large dining room, office with a sunroom, living room with a large music collection and instruments. He has an indoor pizza oven, library (German) sound system, light effects complete with a Disco ball! He even has a sauna on the back patio. Martin has a nice room plus there are 3 more. Heradio is leaving tomorrow for a week to give a tour. We were able to spend about an hour chatting and getting to know him. He told us he has an Eco resort in the jungle 6 hours away. That sounds interesting. We are going to see if we can squeeze a visit in. It’s in Manu national park The jungle has birds, monkeys, jaguars, reptiles on its 40 hectares. I hope it works out. We went to bed at 10:30pm.
Tuesday September 14 Cusco
I slept until 7:30am. The sun was warm coming through the window. I went outside to have tea in the yard. Besides the main house, there are 5 other apartments and another small house and garage. A family lives here and takes care of the place. We were able to see Heradio before he left. We spoke more about visiting the jungle resort. I am considering staying another week if I can change flights and it doesn’t cost too much. I don’t want to miss this opportunity.
Martin went to the store early to get ingredients to make us breakfast. He made me a veggie omelet. It was very good. I also ate an apple and a banana. He made Larry some beef thing. That’s what they ate with bread. I skipped the bread today. We washed up after so we could go into town.
We walked to the bus stop that was only 2 blocks away. The city bus only cost 1 sole (25 cents) and took about 20 minutes to get to the main plaza. There is the bus driver and his assistant that calls out stops. She also enforced the face shield rule. We had to have one. Which we all did. The funny thing is that no one on the bus wore them. We just had to have one.
We walked around looking at cathedrals and other interesting buildings. We went into some shops and found a place for massages. They only cost $12 US for an hour. It was kinda early for a massage, around 11am. But ‘What the heck’! We followed the gal through a store, then up the stairs to one large office. There were two massage beds ready in one curtained room. The massages were good…. A bit rougher than I’m used to but still good. I paid an extra $5 for some cocoa crème and a deeper massage. I certainly got it. We were both happy. My hair was a mess, and they didn’t have a mirror or brush. I had to comb my hair with my fingers to put it back into a ponytail and then under my hat! It looked the same…I was good to go.
We walked around more. Saw more old buildings, another plaza, and some more markets. We bought a few souvenirs…. our first so far. We stopped for a coffee. Larry had cheesecake and Martin got some French fries with hot dogs to share…. with Larry. While we were sitting, Martin gave us details on our Inca Trail trek. It’s one 9/23-27. Then one day back in Cusco. We fly to lima on 9/29 and then to Panama City on 9/30…..so far. Our trek guide is named Eddie and speaks English. It sounds like there are only 2 other people on this trip. Good. We will be staying in shelters along the way with sleeping bags. Not tents. There will be bathrooms. Sounds great. He told the cook that I’m vegetarian and so is another hiker. Great! Larry and I are both feeling so much better especially walking around here at 10,000 feet. Tomorrow we are hiking on the mountain to see Moray and then down to the Maras salt mines. I believe it’s around 12,000 feet and we are mostly walking downhill. I’ve done this hike before. Martin will pack a picnic lunch. I’ll bring some fruit too. I think tomorrow’s hike will be a good test.
Martin seems to have worked out a short 3-day jungle trip around 9/19 or 9/22. We will squeeze it in before the Inca Trail. I’m super excited to see Heradio’s resort in the jungle. I want to see more birds of Peru!
Wednesday September 15 Cusco, Moray, Maras, and Chinchero
We got up at 5am. I felt rested. No more headache. We have decided to take only one altitude pill…..We can take two, but I think we are getting used to the elevation now. I haven’t had to chew on coca leaves for a few days either. I put some in my morning tea. I think that’s good. Martin brought snacks and lunch in his pack. Nice! We took a taxi on the main street, 2 blocks away. It’s the bus stop too. We drove through the city to the outskirts of town. We hopped out there and found another taxi. This one drove us out of town and through small towns. The hills (mountains) started getting taller and the landscape changed dramatically. We were enjoying the ride. We passed the area where they are building the new international airport. They have just broke ground. The Cusco airport is now in the center of town. We can watch planes take off and land about 2 miles from where we are staying. I love when they land as they fly low between (illusion) 2 tall buildings with a mountain on the other side. The take offs are high above the buildings and mountains.
We arrived in the town of Maras and took another taxi to Moray. It’s at 11500 feet. It was chilly but not too bad. We had enough warm clothes, sweatshirts with hoods. We walked around the archeology site of Moray. Martin talked about the Incas and why they build this. They wanted a better way to grow food. They used this as a laboratory to make better crops. Did a meteor make the big hole, aliens, etc? Hiking back up was a small challenge but very doable. Then the majority of the walk was downhill.
We walked 8 miles during the whole day, and I felt great! I stretched out along the way and when I got back to the house. I really enjoyed this walk. There were lots of mountains on all sides and great views. Some mountains were covered with trees, some snow capped and some on the other side, were brown and stark. We could see the Maras Salt mines most of the way down. It looked so far away. Lots of beautiful landscape to see along the way. Sometimes we all walked together and chatted. Other times, we were all spaced out and separate. Other times, it was me and Larry together. Sometimes, me and Martin, walked and talked. We took pictures along the way. We tried to find birds and were partially successful. Martin spotted a lizard, but we did not. There were lots of donkeys, cows. pigs, sheep, and goats. We ran across farmers hand combining with pitchforks using the wind on the top of a flat hill to separate beans (maybe mung beans). We saw an old farmer sitting with his donkey shelling fava beans. One man spoke with Larry ‘Hola, buenos tardes’ and gave him a beautiful snail shell out of his pocket. Kind gesture. At one point, we got sprinkled on. not even an annoyance. We went through a cool village and ate our lunch on a bench in the square. Martin brought bread and avocados. We made sandwiches. We took some pictures around the statues of Moray.
We continued our walk down for about 45 minutes more. We arrived at the Maras Salt mines at 2pm. Our hike started at 8:30am. Martin was surprised how fast we walked. He kept offering snacks all the way. I ate my mandarin and a banana. I’ve been trying to eat less (bread) and getting more fruit and veggies in my diet. After we toured the salt mines…. which was a short tour, we decided we had enough time to stop at a small village called Chinchero. Getting out of the salt mines was climbing a lot of stairs so we rested at the vendors halfway up. I bought some smoky salt and bath salts. Martin finished going up the stairs to find a taxi. We rested until he called for us. Then up the last 50 or so stairs…..I was kinda out of breath. Martin asked if we were up for an adventure. “Sure, ok”. He pointed to the back of a Toyota truck. It was small and had some stuff in the back too. We hitched a ride into Maras on the main road. Open air- 360-degree views. It was quite a ride. I got super dirty/dusty.
We waited at the bus stop for only a few minutes and hopped on the bus. We must have plastic shields, but we aren’t forced to wear them. No one really does but they won’t let you on the bus without one. Crazy! It didn’t take long to get to Chinchero. We stopped at a nice retail establishment. Martin knew at least one of the ladies. They were all elaborately dressed and friendly. They demonstrated how they make yarn from Alpaca, baby alpaca and sheep. Then showed us how they dye it using plants. It was awesome. The lady spoke good English. I think she rehearsed it…a lot. She made her demonstration funny and had at least 3 extremely funny jokes. I bought some fingerless mittens for the trek and Larry got a Cusco knitted hat with side tails. It’s cute. Then just as we were leaving, the ladies wanted a picture. I thought I was going to take a picture of them. Well…..not really. They dressed us up in clothes, ponchos, hats, and a sword thing. It was silly and fun. We did get a picture together. That was a fun stop and we bought things we can use…not decorations.
Guess what happened next? Another bus ride! This bus took us all the way to Cusco. Martin and Larry slept the whole way. It was a good ride. After we were dropped at the plaza, we found a taxi to the house. We were home by 5pm. I was able to get a shower and Martin wanted to make us dinner and his famous Pisco Sours. I was more tired than hungry but decided to eat what he made. We all had a half plate of rice with butter and garlic. He made me a veggie omelet with no cheese. The Pisco sours were good. It looked like they take a lot of booze! We all had one with dinner. Larry and Martin had fried beef that was tough. Larry ate his. As we were eating, Martin told us he was leaving and everything from here had been coordinated. He explained that to do the city ruins tour, we needed to get to the plaza at 11am. We could take a bus…. we know how to do that but not get back. LOL It’s cheaper $3 sole or take a cab at the bus stop for $9 sole. That day will be quite an adventure. I don’t have translator when I’m away from Wi-Fi. He’s going to send me more details.
He made a huge mess in the kitchen when he was making dinner. He must have used every pot, pan and dish that was in the house plus so much grease. He said since he made dinner. We would need to clean up. And then he walks out of the door at 8:30pm to catch his bus back to Nazca. It’s a 15-hour bus ride….so long! It took Larry and I a while to clean the kitchen. We had the whole big house to ourselves now! All five bedrooms, and everything!
Thursday September 16 Cusco
I slept in until 8:30am. It was magical. Today is a rest day. I wrote all day about yesterday’s adventures. I tried to call Jill, my daughter, and my mom. The messenger phone didn’t work very well. It was a short visit with my mom. She likes to know that we are still alive. Tomorrow we will need to be up early, 5am. to go to Rainbow Mountain and we should be home by 5pm. It looks like a great trip, and we can practice our hiking at a higher elevation. We didn’t leave the house all day. It was fine. I stayed in my pajamas the entire day too! We watched the airplanes. Sat in the warm sun. We were entertained by the small boy that leaves in the other house on the property. It was a great rest day and very peaceful.