Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cusco

So, a lot has happened, and my muse vanished in the constant rain that plagues this part of Peru. Despite that, my dedication to you, my dearest readers, means I'm going to endeavour to get all of this written out.

Copacabana is a small, quiet town that seems to be made up of hostels, restaurants and tour agencies. Oddly, the streets were crowded with Peruvians, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out where they all lived, every door was a shop of some sorts. Still accompanied by Jonas, who I met in the salt flats, we found a small hostel called Sofia (if you're following, it's a bad choice, go somewhere else) and gratefully dropped off our bags and headed out into the evening air. Due to the number of hotels around here, you can haggle, so don't accept the first price!

We entered a small restaurant and ordered, but seconds after we sat down, the lights went out and a storm rumbled into the distance. Crazily, incredibly, hailstones the size of marbles started to fall from the sky, creating a deafening cascade on the roof and reducing us to hand signals. After burying the street to a depth of 2 inches, it stopped as suddenly as it started. Crazy weather.



The next morning, we were lucky enough to find a small Irish cafe underneath one of the hotels. This, run by an Irishman and his Bolivian wife, has possibly the best coffee in Bolivia, and the owner is a cheerful and wonderful man who has a series of binders he gives out to his customers, encouraging them to leave tips and advice for the places they have come from. Thanks to this, I got some good advice on Cusco and beyond, and I highly recommend you visit it. Because it was so cold, and because he was playing christmas music inside, I suddenly felt like I was home again, bundled up against the chill, the sunlight streaming through the windows, and humming along to 'we wish you a merry christmas'.

The bus companies that ply from Copacabana to Cusco have banded together to prevent price wars, and will only leave at about 7PM in the evening, meaning you arrive in Cusco at 5am. Whoever thought this up needs a good slapping, as there is nothing worse than arriving in a strange city while it's still dark, especially when you don't speak the language. Luckily, the seat next to me was filled by a friendly Frenchman named Guillame, and he and I banded together to find a hostel in the city. To say that the bus journey was uncomfortable would be a gross understatement. The bus drivers refused to turn on the heating, and and seats were incredibly uncomfortable. So, we shivered our way through the bumpy Peruvian countryside, stirring only to ask a group of drunk locals three rows back to kindly shut up and go to sleep, as it was 2am.

Still, after we arrived at Intro hostel in Cusco, almost delirious from sleep deprivation, the friendly owners encouraged us to collapse into the beanbags in the courtyard, have a nap, and when we awoke breakfast should be ready. Very kind of them, I really needed coffee.

Cusco is a really lovely city. Though some might believe it to be a little tourist-ready, after coming from Copacabana, it seemed anything but. This is a city which is possibly the single oldest continuously inhabited city in the world: quite the achievement. I was pleased to find that every Sunday, the city puts on a civic celebration and ceremoniously raises the city flag and Peruvian flag in a performance involving hundreds of police, military, civilians and a big brass band.



From Cusco, it was onwards to Machu Picchu, because who doesn't visit the famous citidel on their visit to South America?

Pictures are uploading as I write,

Andy

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