Waking up for the first time in a foreign country is a weird experience for me. When I first wake up it always takes a moment for me to remember where I am and then I’m filled with excitement all over again. That certainly was the case when I woke up in my hotel room across the street from the airport in Lima.
My mom and I did not have to rush our first morning in Peru because our flight wasn’t until one and check out time was noon. Since the hotel was across the street from the airport we also didn’t have to worry about any transportation time. We were lucky; a buffet breakfast was included with our hotel room.
One mistake I did make (and who can blame me after flying for ten hours) is that I didn’t ask what time the breakfast was over. It turns out the breakfast ended at 10 am and we nearly missed out on it because we waltzed on in about ten minutes before ten. Luckily, they let us fill up our plates before they put everything way. I’m glad we got a free breakfast but I was kicking myself for making a mistake like that. I’m an experienced traveler, I should know better. I also had my first blank moment when the hotel worker spoke to me in Spanish, as hard as I’ve worked on my Spanish I can still on communicate in basic words and phrases. Thankfully he switched to English.
After breakfast we had an awkward amount of time. We could sit in our hotel room for forty-five minutes or just go over to the airport and check in early. We choose to just go over to the airport. The second floor of the hotel had a bridge over to the airport, which was even better than crossing the street because it meant that we didn’t have to deal with the taxi craziness on the street.
While we had flown Aero México form Los Angeles to Lima we were switching airlines to LAN for our Lima to Cuzco flight. I almost ran into some drama as we were checking into our flight from Lima to Cuzco. For the Inca trail I had brought two cans of CVS pain spray and two cans of Sunscreen Spray (I prefer sprays so I don’t have to get as much crap on my hands). There were all these signs saying that they didn’t allow aerosol cans on the plane. Luckily since it wasn’t aerosol bug spray they let me take it on in my carryon bags. I was very relieved. I wasn’t going to throw a hissy fit at the Lima airport but I would have been bummed out because my two cans of pain spray and two cans of Sunscreen probably cost over $30.
Once we were through security we had a little too much time to kill.
Once we were plane I started to get nervous. Although I had found reviews of our tour company on trip advisor and I had no reason to really believe we were going to get ripped off I still had a paranoid fear that we would arrive in Cuzco and there would be nobody at the airport to pick us up.
After flying for ten hours the day before the hour and twenty minute flight to Cuzco was easy. When we got to baggage claim in Cuzco I was struck with three things. One, how cold it was (which had me terrified for our three nights on the Inca trail), two, that there were already people selling Coca leaves, and three, the fact that I could already sense the change in elevation.
I had no reason to worry about getting ripped up because there was a nice woman waiting outside the airport with my name on a sign (my first ever experience with that) who quickly escorted us to a van that began driving us to our hotel.
As we rode to our hotel in Cuzco I was in awe. I hadn’t been anywhere in Latin America in six years. I was taking it all in.
I noticed rainbow flags everywhere and wondered if Cuzco was celebrating gay pride (they weren’t but more on that in my blog on day 3).
I had viewed the website of our hotel ahead of time and I thought the lobby looked cool.
When we got to the hotel I realized it was both cool in terms of design and in terms of temperature. As we checked in we were offered Coca tea. My mom is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict so I don’t drink around her and despite the fact that I really wanted to try Coca tea I never had any because it would have been disrespectful.
When we got to our room I was disappointed with three things, the size, the fact that there was no bathtub and that fact that it was really cold. Despite my disappointments I decided to not complain. I did however need sometime in the room to rest. I was filling very tired and a little dizzy from the change in elevation. I grew up in the Rocky Mountains but despite that my body is very much that of an Angelino now.
After about an hour in the hotel room we went out to explore Cuzco. We were staying in the central part of Cuzco near the main square. I absolutely LOVED central Cuzco.
The architecture had a lot of Spanish influence but it is surrounded by the beautiful Andes Mountains.
After exploring a bit we decided to check out one of the churches in Cuzco’s main square. The name of the Church we went into was called Iglesia de la Compania.
I think my mom was blown away by the scale of the church. It was on par with what I have seen in Europe but still very impressive. Pictures were not allowed in the church but I have to admit we did sneak a few when we went up in the tower.
After enjoying the majesty of Iglesia de la Compania we decided to explore one of the marketplaces. My mom and I both bought souvenirs for my nieces. I also bought a bookmark for my husband and blank journal for myself (I always by a blank journal when I travel, that way months or years down the line when I’m writing in it I will be reminded of my travels. I’m currently writing in the journal I bought in Paris in 2012).
After doing some shopping we decided it was time for dinner. I had made the decision that I would try Guinea Pig while in Peru. I’ve become more adventurous when it comes to food in the last five years so I figured why not try it. However, I was worried I wouldn’t like it so I ordered a combination dish that included Chicken, Guinea Pig and Alpaca.
I was shocked when my mom ordered the same dish. My mom is normally very conservative and cautious when it comes to food so I was very proud of her for stepping outside of her comfort zone.
As we waited for our dinner to arrive we were offered complimentary Pisco Sours. I was kind of bummed I couldn’t try it out but like I mentioned before I don’t drink around my mom. Instead I had my first Inca Kola, which I LOVED!
The restaurant we ate dinner had had the World Cup on (I quickly realized that even though Peru didn’t qualify the World Cup is still a bigger deal there than it is in the United States) and as luck would have it the game the was taking place was The United States vs. Portugal. There were two other tables with American tourists at them in the restaurant. It was really cool to watch our country come within a few seconds of beating a European powerhouse like Portugal while cheering them on in a foreign country with other Americans. I also felt closer to the Americans who were actually at the game in Brazil. #Believe…We were all disappointed when Portugal scored their last second goal to tie the game.
As for the food…Obviously, my mom and I knew what to expect with the Chicken part of our dish. As for the Guinea Pig, neither one of us liked it. I don’t really know how to explain what it tasted like. It was just kind of fatty or as my mom said “It was icky tasting.” The Alpaca on the other hand was very tasty.
As we were finish up dinner my mom and I both commented on how cold we were. At over ten thousand feet you can’t expect Cuzco to be warm at night. I was very concerned with how cold I was. If I was that cold in Cuzco how could I expect to make it through three nights on camping on the Inca Trail? We decided to go back to our hotel room and put on all our warm clothes and go back out to see if we were warm enough.
I was very relieved to find that once I had on my heavy sweatshirt, hat, scarf and gloves that I was much warmer.
Once we were warmed up we continued to explore Cuzco.
I had to laugh when my mom committed a cultural faux pas. There was a woman standing on a street corner with a tray of chocolates and she asked us if we wanted some. My mom clearly thought they were free samples because she took one and kept walking. The poor little Peruvian lady called out that they cost two Sols (their local currency). My mom panicked and instead of giving the woman some money she put the chocolate back on the tray and ran away. I was so embarrassed. I gave the woman her two Sols and took the chocolate back off the tray and she told me to take another one. The chocolates were good but the incident became a joke for the rest of our trip.
We continued to walk around Cuzco for about another hour.
Around ten o’clock I felt the energy changing a bit. I figured it was best to not be out when that happens so we went back to our hotel room.
Unfortunately, our hotel room was really cold and we could not control our own heat. I texted messaged with my husband for a bit while my mom checked out the TV selection. I actually like watching American movies dubbed in Spanish. It’s a good way for me to work on my language skills but my mom was not a fan of the Spanish dubbing. She went on a quest to find not only English language programing (only about two or three channels had this) but English language programming she wanted to watch. She was driving me a little crazy with this and would continue to whenever we were in a hotel room.
I ended up going to bed around midnight. I had enjoyed our first half day in Cuzco but I had to wear two pairs of socks to bed. I was worried that if I had to do that in a hotel room what would have to do to stay warm while campng on the Inca trail?
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