Monday, May 23, 2011

Wedensday April 20th, 2011
The rest of my time in Peru went by faster than I can describe in an absolute blur of studying, traveling, touring ruins, dancing, shopping, packing and goodbyes. On Saturday Sarah and I visited two towns in the Sacred Valley, Calca and Pisac and explored the ruins there and on Sunday I went to another town in the Valley called Ollantaytambo with a couple friends from the school. There I saw some more ruins and then watched as one friend participated in what appeared to be a semi-official Peruvian soccer game.

Here’s a sampling of the photos:

Oh wait, before the day of the Sacred Valley I want to see Sacsayhuaman-the major ruins just outside Cusco-with a friend from salsa class.

This was a ways away from the main ruins, and I didn't get what it was at first, so I asked. According to my friend/informal guide the archeologists' best guess is that sites like this is where they cut out the stones to use for construction. Boy do I wish they could tell us how the heck they did that…

A part of the main ruins site. There aren’t any upclose photos because we didn’t want to have to pay to get in… yeah, I'll admit I was getting pretty cheap by the end of my stay.

Ok, now into the Sacred Valley:

Potatoes! I was trying to be sneaky about this picture (so I wouldn’t get caught and asked to pay—they do that) but if this dude wasn’t in the way you’d be able to see the incredible amount and variety of potatoes they were selling in this part of the market in Calca.

We found this area called a “park” but as you can see it was really just a cemetery. What you see are the tombs. If I remember correctly, the rich people can afford to be buried underground and the poor people go into the above-ground tombs.

This begins our tour of the ruins of Pisac. Terracing was definitely a common (and impressive) theme…

That’s right, we managed to get a picture of the two of us all on our own :P

The plant in the foreground=really cool! I saw others of this plant growing upside down clinging to rocks like this.

This looks like a crazy fake block city, right?? Nope, real stone.

From above the next big ruin site.

This begins the ruins of Ollantaytambo. Freddy (friend from Centro Tinku) and I are inside a house just up the mountain a bit.

Ruins and tourists! Good thing we came in the back way (once again to avoid paying) and didn’t have to deal with the crowd so much :D

Danny, other friend from Tinku.

After touring the ruins Danny and I watched Freddy’s soccer game. Or more accurately, Danny watched and tried to help me understand the slang/Quechua the people behind us were yelling and I mostly just appreciated the scenery J

After this fun weekend I had a couple more days of class and an exam, and then I sadly arrived at my last night in Cusco. After a fun going away get-together in the evening with the Centro Tinku family Sarah and I went to salsa class. It made me sad to think how long it may be before I get to dance salsa again L

In Café Tinku with peeps.

Salsa friends! Yep, that’s me in the red :D

Being my last night and all, some of my favorite people put aside the fact they had work/school/volunteer stuff in the morning and went out with me anyway for some more salsa and fun.

The early morning found me short on sleep but full to the top of wonderful memories of Cusco. I then proceeded to fill my suitcases to the top as well (and then some) and now find myself sitting in the Lima airport waiting for my just-past-midnight departure to the US.

My next stop is Albuquerque, New Mexico where I will finally get to see my sister again after what feels like years of separation!!! Ok, it’s really only been months, but still, I’m allowed to be excited, right? And despite the pride I feel for having worn clothes washed only by my own industrious work for 3 and a half months, I have to say I’m excited to use a washing machine and dryer again. I’m not really excited to start seeing a McDonald’s on every corner and start forgetting my Spanish, but there are always tradeoffs, eh?

Sunday May 22nd, 2011
 I could go on and blog about the wonderful time I had in Albuquerque and how great it was to see family and friends in Michigan after that, but the objective of this blog was to document my experiences in South America, so I won’t continue to bore you with the details of my life. Instead, let me just say in conclusion of all this that the title of this blog ‘Getting to Know the Other America’ is a complete misnomer. After spending 3 and half months in Peru and about a day and a half in Bolivia, I barely feel like I ‘know’ Peru. And from talking to other travelers of South and Central America I learned that each country is often quite distinct from the others, like the fact that there are some European-like countries in South America that, as I understand, are VERY different from Peru. Essentially what this means is that I will have to go back and do a more thorough tour and give all of Latin America the time and attention it deserves, but the truth is that not even in my wildest dreams could I hope to truly ‘know’ all that is our southern neighbor.

Thanks for staying tuned—I hope that at the least this blog was mildly interesting to you and at the most was eye-opening and inspiring!

Hasta la próxima vez, queridos amigos y parientes J

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sunday April 3rd, 2011
We boarded the bus (with super-reclining bed-like seats—yes!) at 9:30pm and arrived in Puno at 4:30am. Puno is the major Peruvian city located on Lake Titicaca, so the distance left to travel was another 3 hours in bus to Copacabana which is a major city on the Bolivian side of the lake.

Monday April 4th
The bus from Puno departed at 7:30am, so after successfully crossing the Bolivian border (I think that was the first time I walked across a country border) and arriving in Copacabana, we had a full day of exploring ahead of us.

As a side note, in order to enter Bolivia Sarah and I had to pay $135 for the VISA. The only reason for this is that we are from the United States. As far as I know we are the only nationality that has to pay to enter the country. This seemed especially silly to me since we would only be in the country for 1 day, but the good news is the VISA is valid for 5 years (90 days of each year) so I am now determined to go back to Bolivia before it expires.

The Peruvian and Bolivian countryside we passed through was truly gorgeous and became even more so when the lake entered into it. 

Copacabana turned out to essentially be a tourist trap with hostels, restaurants and souvenirs on every corner, but a beautiful city nonetheless.

The view from our 4th floor room (with private bathroom) which was 30 bolivianos (about $5) per person per night. The big blue is indeed Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest and largest navigable lake. I have to admit it was impressive, but my allegiance still lies with the Great Lakes.

Also, it didn’t take us long to realize that with the above-mentioned exchange rate (approx. 2 bolivianos per 1 sol with almost 3 soles per dollar) things were even cheaper in Bolivia than in Peru. Furthermore, being another Andean country it sells many of the same alpaca products that are sold in Peru, but for less! Needless to say, we spent time doing some serious shopping while exploring the city…

There is a big ol’ church that takes up a good portion of the city.

I took this picture before I saw the ‘prohibido sacar fotos’ sign, so I can plead ignorance here. If you can’t tell, it was a little bit ornate… and worth photographing…

Look! Meat that looks like real animals! I’ve actually seen this frequently in Peru. It’s ironic to me that Peruvian cuisine is heavily meat-based—for me images like this only help reinforce my vegetarianism…

In the evening the plan was to climb this ‘mountain’ next to the city to watch the sunset over the lake.

We started our hike a little late, however, and in looking for the path up the mountain somehow missed it and ended up essentially blazing our own trail up the rocky face. Plus none of us (not me, Sarah, or the Canadian/German girl we were hanging out with) had remembered to bring a light. The sun was pretty much setting by the time we were only about halfway up, but from the top of a big rock the view was pretty nice anyway J

Tuesday April 5th
The bus left Copacabana today at 1:00pm and after a short while we were once again in Peru.

The Peru-Bolivia border—crossing back in to Peru! (note the Bolivian flag in the background)

After a few more hours on the bus we were back in Puno and spent the evening searching for food and exploring the city.

Plaza de Armas of Puno. I have to say it wins the award for shrubbiest plaza I’ve seen yet…

Wednesday April 6th
We woke up early today for our tour of Lake Titicaca.

We passed some pigs and cattle on the boat trip out to the floating islands… I was a little confused, too.

We first visited one of the floating islands where our guide, aided by some island inhabitants, explained the basics about why the Urus people live on the lake (literally) and how they do it. It was all quite interesting, but also very very touristy and rehearsed.

As part of the touristy experience one of the 10 or so inhabitants invited us in to her home. If I remember correctly a family of 4 lives here and shares the same bed (behind us) for the practical reasons of space-saving and warmth-sharing. At about 3,800 meters above sea level (that’s 400 meters higher than Cusco) the nights can get pretty cold. What surprised me was that they have a radio, small television, and a light bulb thanks to this:

See the solar panel on the right? Hadn’t really expected that at all…

View of the other islands from the watchtower-like structure.

They catch fish when they are small, then put them in confined areas like this to let them grow. Then it’s easier to catch them when they’re big and ripe for the eating!

Flamingoes are apparently native to the area.

The next island we visited was a 2 and a half hour boat trip away and was actually solid ground instead of floating reeds. Also, the natives of this island spoke Quechua instead of the Ayimara spoken on the floating islands.

The terracing was made by the pre-Incans for agricultural purposes. Traditionally and into the current times, however, the economic activity of the island is textiles. Unique to this culture are specific modes of dress for married and unmarried men. The distinction is in the style of chullo (in this case pretty much a really long stocking cap) worn. Instead of a ring, married men also wear a special type of belt. This is made by weaving thread using stands of the wife’s hair as the base. In this way unmarried women can also be easily distinguished by their long hair.

The clouds over Lake Titicaca were almost always interesting.

We arrived back in Puno in the evening and had a little time to shop and eat dinner before getting on another overnight bus back to Cusco.

Saturday April 9th
The remainder of the week was essentially spent catching up on class hours and preparing for and taking an exam, and catching up on sleep. Luckily the weekend promised to be very tranquil, so I would get to rest up even further. Peruvian law says that starting Thursday at midnight of election weekend until the elections are over on Sunday the country is ‘dry’ (meaning no one sells alcohol) and loud, outright festivities are not allowed.

Tonight I had the good fortune of meeting up with a friend from my volunteer group in Australia. She is travelling with a group of 21 students and was previously living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After a brief visit to Cusco they will spend the rest of their time in Lima. She’s from Chicago and goes to school at the University of Michigan, but ironically we’ve only ever seen each other outside the US. We do hope to fix that, however, once we’re both stateside again ;)

Sunday April 10th
I woke up today with a headache that I couldn’t hydrate or sleep away (the usual remedies) so I spent the better portion of the day in bed. My physical discomfort was, however, insignificant in comparison to the psychological distress of the household at finding out the preliminary results of today’s elections. The voting took place today from 8am-4pm and at 4pm they announced the results of the ‘boca de urña’ which are almost always accurate. This result, as I understand it, comes from directly asking people at the poll who they voted for and in this way they gain a relatively accurate and immediate idea of the results.

Out of the 5 top candidates, here were the top 3:
Ollanta Humala-33%
Keiko Fujimori-21%
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski-19%

If these results are consistent with the final results it means the second round of elections will be between Humala and Fujimori. I obviously am no expert in Peruvian politics, but many people are concerned with this result. The short explanation for this without giving candidate biographies is that Ollanta Humala has government plans similar to Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Keiko Fujimori is the daughter of Alberto Fujimori, who was essentially a former Peruvian dictator who ended up escaping from Peru with an airplane full of money and faxing his resignation as president from Japan.

When I came out of my room at 4:30pm today all those present (Alberto, Paty who’s visiting for the weekend, a couple cousins, and Paty’s friend) immediately announced that they would be coming to the US with me in my suitcases. Frankly, I don’t blame them one bit and would love to take them all with me. If Humala ends up president and runs his government like Chavez I don’t foresee me or anyone from the US being able to travel to Peru during his 5 year term.

Of course we have to wait for the final count to know for sure. Everyone here is clinging to the hope that PPK will end up above Fujimori, but we won’t know for sure until tomorrow…

Monday April 11th
The results are in—the future president of Peru is either a nationalist or the daughter of a former dictator… uh oh. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saturday April 2nd, 2011
Here is a review of what has changed since returning from the jungle:

First, I regret to inform that I have returned to more frequent use of chapstick. I am making an effort, however, to simply be a user and not an abuser. I try to be conscious of how much and how often… 

When I first got back the weather was markedly better. Now that we are transitioning in to winter (in an autumn of sorts, but it’s hard for me to think of it as autumn without any color change…) it rains less and the sun comes out now and again. Some days the air almost actually feels warm, but most of the time it’s still cool or cold.

Sarah and I have started going to 2 salsa classes, which are back to back. The first is a beginning-intermediate class and the second is more advanced, so we’ve been learning a lot. On top of that we’ve also had a couple of private lessons—I think it’s safe to say at this point that we are salsa addicts J

As far as the media goes, for the past couple of weeks whenever we turn on the radio or television we’re guaranteed to hear propaganda or news about the candidates of the upcoming election. The presidential elections in Peru are a little different than what we have in the US. First, there are 11 candidates in total, 5 of which are the most popular and get covered by the press. With that many candidates, of course, it’s unlikely that one candidate will obtain a majority with just one election. Therefore, on April 10th the first round of elections will take place. If no single candidate obtains 51% or more, there will be a second round of voting in June between the top two from the first round. Considering that all 5 top candidates have been very close in the popularity polls, it’s very unlikely that the first round will decide Peru’s next president.

Another difference in the democratic system of Peru is voting is obligatory. If you don’t vote you are not permitted to leave the country until you have gone through the proper process to pay a fine to the government. Furthermore, you have to vote in the city where you obtained your Peruvian ID. This means that between April 8th and 12th, many people are traveling and tickets to go anywhere are hard to obtain and expensive.

This has actually had a direct impact on my own plans. I recently realized that I needed to travel out of the country before April 6th to renew my VISA. When I entered I was given a 90 day tourist VISA, which is about to expire. I was already planning to travel to Bolivia to do this, as it’s the closest and easiest to get to of all the countries surrounding Peru. Originally I planned to leave Cusco on Tuesday night to be in Bolivia by Wednesday, but then decided it would be better to avoid traveling on the days surrounding the elections and now plan to leave tomorrow night. This change also made it possible for Sarah to travel with me as well (her plans to visit Macchu Picchu next weekend would have meant I travel solo if I’d left on Wednesday) which is a big plus, too.

Speaking of Macchu Picchu, here are some pictures of my trip there, which I promised a while ago…

Plaza de Armas of Ollantantambo. After an hour and a half in bus from Cusco I arrived here and then walked to the train station on the other side of the town. 

Although this picture is not all that flattering (maybe I was just in a sort of daze, what with the incredible scenery and all...) I feel that I need to share it as it's the iconic Macchu Picchu picture :) 

The angles here are the bases of the roofs of the houses. The hole in the stone is used to attach the roof onto the house. Just imagine... how long did it take to put that perfect hole in that solid rock???

The train route followed this river for most of the trip. It's hard to get the magnitude from this picture, but it was absolutely roaring!

More to come after the quick visit to Bolivia!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tuesday March 15th
The plan for today was to hike to the Chakra, however the rain early on stalled the plans until around noon, but we made good use of the morning by cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Due to the humidity, warmth (no electricity=no refrigerator) and abundance of insects and fungus vegetables go bad quicker than normal, so another vegetable heavy meal was in order. As a side note, I’d like to document that no one in Peru (that I know of so far) refrigerates eggs. Even in my house in Cusco the eggs sit on top of the refrigerator instead of inside. At first this worried me, but I have never noted any negative effect from this. Therefore, I have concluded that either the eggs in the US are different and do need refrigeration or we are all under the false impression that it’s necessary to refrigerate our eggs.

Anyway, I digress. We were able to hike to the Chakra, although Milena wasn’t feeling well and stayed behind. On the trail we came across a huge snake called the Bushmaster. Apparently if this snake bites you it’s likely that you will die before you can acquire the anti-venom. Lucky for me, however, this one was already dead. And moreso, I should have been expecting to come across it and not been so startled upon finding it in the middle of the path because I already knew it would be there. David had told us on Monday that when he tried to come back from where he had been fishing around midnight the night before he had found this serpent blocking the path. He waited for 4 hours for it to move, but it didn’t. So around 4:00am he killed it with a long stick and there it stayed until today. On the hike back he picked it up and brought it back to Amaru Mayu to cook and eat.


This are the banana plants (David in the picture for size reference). Yes, I had to ask if it was a tree or a plant…

No, I had no idea before this that pineapple grew from a plant and not a tree. Apparently all the other foreigners that come here are surprised to learn this, too. Now, where do we get the idea that it’s a tree?? I’m honestly stumped. I'm also not sure why this picture is upside down...

Wednesday March 16th
I’d like to bring to light here another issue about which the global community does not seem to have reached a consensus:  toilet paper in public bathrooms, a right or a privilege? I’d say that at least 95% of the US holds the belief that it is a right, something that I previously had the fortune to take for granted. However, if you’ve ever travelled outside of the US you may have noticed that in some countries you can consider yourself very lucky to find tp in the bathroom. This is definitely the case in Peru, where I’d say the odds (optimistically) are about 50/50. It only takes a few times of being surprised by this before you catch on, get smart, and start carrying around pocket Kleenex with you wherever you go. I suppose I had to experience the ‘privilege’ philosophy to fully appreciate the ‘right’ philosophy of my country…

Thursday March 17th
Today my “work” was to participate in and help with a river rafting venture. The organization I am working through also provides various opportunities to tourists. In reality it was no easy feat to bring everything we needed (deflated raft, which is very heavy, 5 life vests, 5 helmets, and 5 oars) from Amaru Mayu to Pillcopata, but we managed it. It was also no easy feat inflating the raft with a small hand pump, but luckily the weather was sunny and beautiful, so we had no reason to hurry. After plenty of pumping we put the raft in the water and were off. We travelled from Pillcopata, stopped briefly as the Chakra, floated past Amaru Mayu, and ended our journey in Atalaya. The tourists (two girls from Sweden) were picked up here to travel by car to a different town where they were to volunteer in an orphanage for a few days.

Overall, even though the trip on the river wasn’t actually that long it offered a nice vantage point from which to appreciate the landscape. It’s just a shame I couldn’t bring my camera (for fear of drowning it) to be able to show you instead of tell…

Friday March 18th
Over and over again I learn that the only thing constant is change. The original plan for today was to travel to Pillcopata to pick up Sarah, who was coming to spend the weekend here. When we got to Atalaya, however, we found out that instead of arriving solo today she will be arriving tomorrow with 2 other tourists, a guide and a cook. So, instead of travelling on to Pillcopata, we came back to Amaru Mayu to clean everything and make the beds in the rooms for the tourists.

On a different subject, I’d like to note that life in this climate (tropical jungle, approximately 600m above sea level) has brought about 3 changes in my lifestyle. First, ever since I lived in the dorms I have had the habit of sleeping with earplugs. I fall asleep much easier with these because they block out the random noises that keep me awake. Here however, the constant noise of the river makes earplugs unnecessary for me.

Second, my skin is usually pretty dry so after showering I almost always use both lotion and face moisturizer, but after my second shower here I realized that neither was necessary. I believed before that my skin was just inherently dry, but I realize now that the condition of my skin is very dependent on the climate I’m in.

Third, for as long as I can remember I’ve been addicted to chapstick. Once I made the above realization about the lotion it occurred to me that this might be a good time to quit (or at least reduce) my chapstick dependency. So far I have been able to reduce the usage significantly—I’m down to using it just twice a day (some of you may realize that this is really quite a change for me). I think it’s possible for me to quit entirely here, but I’m not sure how long that might last once I return to the colder, drier climate of Cusco.

Saturday March 19th
This morning around 2am I woke up and through my sleepy haze slowly realized that I would soon be ill and vomiting. It was another 2 hours before these needs finally drew me out of my tent and to the bathroom. For the next few hours I slept as much as I could between periods of my body apparently attempting to purge all of its contents. I ended up almost literally spending the rest of the day in my tent since eating, drinking, and walking (without feeling like I was going to vomit or pass out) weren't really options.

It wasn’t exactly the way I had imagined receiving the group, which arrived around 1pm. I briefly talked with Sarah (without leaving my tent) and promised to feel better the next day to participate in the boat tour. This kind of sickness usually passes after 24 hours…

Sunday March 20th
I woke up around 1:30am and realized that I felt normal again. Furthermore, when the guide woke me up at 4:45am to find out if I would  be participating in the tour I realized my dreams had been mostly focused on food. I took this to be a good sign—I had an appetite again.

The first stop of the tour was  across the river from a steep bank where many tropical birds come early in the morning to eat the salt found there… or I think that’s the reason anyway. In actuality it was very hard to see the birds because 1) we had to park across the river and 2) most of the birds were green and so was the vegetation where they chose to land. Good for camouflage from predators and tourists.

View from the boat.

Next we went back up the river a bit and hiked in at a trail that was supposed to lead us to a giant tree. I was definitely not disappointed when we arrived at this tree. At about 300 year of age it has a huge trunk, but most of its impressive size comes from the huge buttress roots.

This, my friends, is where chocolate starts. Inside here are the seeds that some genius decided to turn in to cacao one day.

Look closely—those little green flecks are pieces of vegetation being carried by leaf-cutter ants. I was very excited to see this incredible species in action. Seriously, if you want to have your mind blown just do a little research about these guys and the relationships they have with the fungi and microbes in their environment; they are really quite amazing.

This is a type of palmera—just another cool adaptation to thin soil!

Whee, I’m Jane!

Yes, this is a real live jaguar print.

Yep, the background here is the aforementioned tree.

The view up the tree.

Learning to hunt with a bow and arrow made of all-jungle material! But clearly struggling… don’t count on me to put dinner on the table…

The last stop was to hike back to an oxbow lake to see some interesting fauna. The most abundant , largest, and loudest was this ‘prehistoric’ bird:

The noises it made really did sound dinosaur-like, although I’m not sure of its true evolutionary history.

Driving a raft with a pole is loads of fun!

Monday March 21st
Today’s journey back to Cusco began at 11:00am with the short boat trip to Atalaya. We had about 45 minutes to kill before the bus was to come through, so we set about accomplishing a mission to acquire fresh coconuts.

We were successful :D

After arriving by bus in Pillcopata the guide searched out all of our transportation options. Unfortunately (I think due to the landslide business) the only option was the big bus that was scheduled to leave at 6pm. This was not ideal because 1) that meant a 5 hour wait in Pillcopata and 2) we wouldn’t be arriving in Cusco until around 6am. We made the best of this time, however, by really exploring the town.

Plaza de Armas of Pillcopata.

Unfortunately the town is not all that big, but we managed to keep ourselves entertained.

Upon boarding the bus at 6:00pm Sallie and I were almost immediately approached by an older woman. She was asking us to put a packet of something into our backpacks and bring it to Cusco for her. I was very confused as to why she wanted us to carry a packet for her, but we had the idea that it was no sort of noble cause and said ‘no.’

About a half an hour down the road when the police stopped the bus we found out why she had asked us to carry a packet for her. Apparently the police routinely stop vehicles coming out of this region to regulate the amount of coca leaves people are carrying. If I remember correctly it is legal to have (for one person) one pound of coca leaves. If you have more than that it is assumed that you will use it to make cocaine, which is illegal. When the police discovered that this woman had over the legal amount (apparently no one else wanted to carry it for her either) she didn’t want to give it up. After a few minutes of trying to make her case—although she really just repeated the same thing over and over again—she was starting to get a little hysterical. The situation seemed to be escalating and I started to get scared when a third police officer carrying a rather large gun got on the bus. Finally they were able to take half of her coca leaves and the bus continued on.

The trip went on without incident until about 4:00am. I had been snoozing in my seat when the bus stopped (not unusual) and the driver cut the engine (a little unusual considering we were in the middle of nowhere mountains). My first guess was that a car had broken down in the road and that we would have to wait for it to be fixed. I understand that building a two-lane road into the side of a mountain would be a lot more work, but there are serious flaws to a one-lane road. It was still dark outside and cold because we were up in the mountains, so I chose not to leave the warmth of the bus for the time being. I found out, however, from those who did leave the bus that we couldn’t pass because a truck had partially fallen off the road and was blocking the way for large vehicles (such as buses). Since there was nothing else to do I resigned myself to waiting and attempting to get some more sleep.

You shall not pass… big bummer all around.

About 5 hours later someone made the decision that the line of buses waiting to pass would turn around (which also was not easy and involved quite a bit of reversing) and travel backwards a half hour. From there we would find out if the new road currently being built to Cusco was passable.

When the 5 or 6 buses full of people arrived and asked the construction workers if we would be able to pass the answer was unclear. I think there maybe was some legal issue with letting us go through, but finally they gave us permission. Of course, they had just recently used dynamite in the construction, so we were told it would take 2 hours for them to clear the rocks. Three hours later, we were finally on our way to Cusco again.

By this time everyone was pretty hungry and frustrated—ready to get to Cusco. Unfortunately, we hadn’t yet hurdled all of the obstacles. After about a half hour of progress toward Cusco, we stopped in a small town. People selling snacks briefly boarded the bus (which is normal) and then we should have been on our way again. However, the police boarded the bus again to check for excessive coca. This time they asked the bus driver, which apparently brought up some issues. I’m not sure if he did have illegal amounts of coca, but I believe they also found out that he didn’t have the proper documents to be a bus driver. We waited about a half hour for them to ‘resolve’ the issues, but then found out that the bus driver had somehow fled from the police. Having realized that this bus was not going to be getting to Cusco anytime soon without a driver, we unloaded our bags and looked for other transportation options. Luckily we were only about a 40 minute drive from Cusco and were able to catch a combi (the vans that work like mini-buses) the rest of the way.

We finally arrived in Cusco around 3:00pm on Tuesday, 9 hours behind schedule. Since the lack of cell service had made it impossible to call and explain why I was running a little behind to Alberto, he was pretty worried by the time I finally made it home. But I made it home and that’s what’s truly important, eh?

Hoping to finish catching up and post again soon!