March 25, 2007

This is a city whose name is synonymous with Machu Picchu. At least for me it is. I have always viewed it as the hub for getting to
Machu Picchu.

I got in extremely early and I was more than ecstatic to find that the little hotel I stumbled upon had no problem with letting me
check in earlier than 6am. Not only that, I took a shower. Oh, what a shower it was! I haven’t had a warm shower since I was in San
Pedro in Chile. That was until this morning when I cranked the hot-water on. Oh, how I love hot water.

I got to roam the streets today before anybody else was awake. There is so much character in the buildings out here. Every little
side-street has something to offer. There are small cobblestone streets that climb up the hills. From high above, you can catch
glimpses of the massive churches in Plaza Armas and of the hillside in the background.

There was a big ceremony to raise both the Peruvian flag and the Cusco flag in Plaza Armas later in the morning. I thought it was a
holiday by the grandeur of it all. But it wasn’t. Just the raising of the flags. The funny thing is that I am sure there are many people
who think this is a gay-loving city. Everywhere you look, you see striped rainbow flags. But this is
soooo not the case. This is their
city’s flag - the rainbow is sacred to their beliefs. My book actually says that because of all of the confusion, they are thinking about
changing their flag.

I spent the rest of my day roaming around and getting to know the city. There is no way to venture down every small street but I
did my best! Plaza Armas is the focal point of the center of the city and, damn, is it beautiful.

Another thing that I was enjoying about this place was all of the different food options. Whether it was the eggplant and onion
focaccia at a swanky little café, ice cream at a gelateria or trout ceviche with sweet potatoes at a way-cool Peruvian restaurant…this
city did not disappoint me in the gastronomic department.

After dinner, I was back in Plaza Armas. Even
more incredible at night when everything, from the fountain to the churches, is lit up.
Seriously gorgeous stuff.

March 26, 2007

A lot more activity today on the streets as it is a Monday. Not sure if this is necessarily a good thing as you can’t walk 5-feet without
somebody trying to sell you a massage, a junky trinket, the opportunity to take a picture of a person with a llama, etc. I hate feeling
like I need to avoid people but this is what they create.

A lot of my day was used to plan my trip out to Machu Picchu. I went to the train station and bought my tickets. I head out there
later tonight. In the meantime, I’m going to get a few things done and pack up some stuff to head out there.

I will be back in Cusco tomorrow evening…

March 27, 2007

I got back from Machu Picchu around 4:30pm today. I don’t really know what happened but I am having a hard time taking deep
breaths. My abdomen experiences pain every time I need to take a deep breath. I have a feeling it has something to do with my
running to not miss my train in Aguas Calientes. But I just can’t believe that I am still having issues. It is probably perfect timing
that I am off to Lima tomorrow morning. Maybe the lack of altitude will do wonders for this problem.

My luggage was at the South America Explorers Club where I signed up for membership yesterday. Just before I left, guess who
walked in? Lindsey! Turned out she was exchanging a book. Robin and John headed out today to Machu Picchu and she decided to
sit it out since she went a few years ago. We ended up grabbing some dinner. Then it was time to
really say good-bye since they all
head down to southern Peru tomorrow night.

Man, am I tired. Time to go catch some zzz’s…
Back to Peru.
In Plaza Armas at dusk.
A Peruvian with her llama..
In Plaza Armas.