Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Last days in Peru and going on a field trip!

Our trip back to Cusco was much less of an adventure than our trip there. Once in Cusco, we took our time sight-seeing, and I also stuffed my face with way too much vegan food.

Cusco has a central square in the middle of town, which features some gorgeous buildings. We spent quite a bit of time taking pictures of the buildings, people-watching, and just generally enjoying the scenery. We even went to a bar on the square (not exactly authentic as it had an Irish Pub theme, but cold beer was certainly delightful).

Keith at the bar on the square.

First up for food was a place called Green Point. Wow, did it ever hit the spot! That's arroz chaufa, and you better believe a piece of chocolate cake with a flower on top. Delish (and A+ for presentation)!


Cusco has two Green Point locations. And since the food was so good at the first location, we decided to check out the second location as well. After that, we pretty much ate at one of the two Green Points at least once a day for the rest of the trip.

Food at the second Green Point:

Other than stuffing my face (which, I clearly did a lot), I also checked out some museums like the Circuito Religioso Arzobispal and the Museo de Arte Precolombino. Shh...don't tell anyone, but I snapped an illegal picture at one of the exhibits.

Said illegal picture.
The grounds of the Circuito Religioso Arzobispal.
More grounds.
Even more grounds.
And some shots from the Museo de Arte Precolombino.

And my favorite piece of art was the sign in the bathroom.

Love those translations!
We also traveled to the ruins at Saqsaywaman, a monumental structure that was known as the "House of the Sun" before the Spaniards showed up and destroyed most of it. When we got there, I was surprised by how massive the fortress was (the pictures below don't even begin to do it justice). And, when they said that one of the walls weighs 70 tons and that, during construction, the stones were carried from three kilometers away, I was blown away. I can barely run three kilometers without wanting to collapse at the finish line (beer in hand, of course). I can't imagine carrying stones that far.

Not only were the ruins (and the stories behind them) quite remarkable, the view of Cusco was also fantastic.

When it was time to go back home, leaving Peru was quite the adventure. We took a flight from Cusco to Lima (on Peruvian Airlines), and had no problems. Our next leg was supposed to be from Lima to Fort Lauderdale (and then from Fort Lauderdale to Detroit after that).

However, upon checking in, we were informed that the flight to Fort Lauderdale was delayed and that we would miss our connection to Detroit. And...wait for it...the next flight they could get us on to Detroit would be in two days (i.e., less than the amount of time it would take to drive the distance myself). Plus, sleeping in the Fort Lauderdale airport for two nights sounded about as appealing as stabbing myself in the eye with a spork.

So, my frustrated self, plopped on the floor (the Lima airport has about a 1 to 30 chair to people ratio) and waited for some news.

When some chairs finally opened up at the food court, Keith and I headed over there to wait. We met a woman named, Kim, who, strangely enough, was also going to Detroit. She was traveling by herself (as her boyfriend was headed back to Costa Rica), so we all sat near the McDonald's until we had more news.

After waiting several hours, we finally were able to board our flight to Fort Lauderdale. Although, our fate there was still up in the air. I began frantically searching for flights from other parts of Florida thinking that we could take a bus from Fort Lauderdale to another Florida city and then hop a flight to Detroit.

Once we landed in Fort Lauderdale, I informed the gate agent that I had found a flight that left from Orlando. Apparently, other passengers had found the same flight, and we begged to be put on it. So, rather than paying for us all to take the bus to Orlando, Spirit decided to rent a van and have us driven four hours to Orlando field trip-style.

The van ride was actually pretty fun in that I felt like I was on a road trip with new friends. Plus, unlike a Greyhound, whenever we needed to stop for bathroom breaks, we just asked the driver. At one point, we even went to Wendy's for some fries.

Upon our arrival in Orlando, a couple of the passengers and I exchanged Facebook information.

Perhaps another road trip in the future?

It was a long journey home, but my trip to Peru was incredible. And my first time in South America was definitely worth three flights and a van trip with strangers! Hasta luego (espero), Peru.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Check that off the ol' bucket list

Once we arrived in Aguas Calientes, we made our way to our hostel (which was really close to the train station). We asked someone there if we could hail a cab, and, they were sweet and didn't laugh at us. This is, of course, before we discovered that there are no cars in Aguas Calientes since it's so hilly and mountainous (although there are a few service vehicles in town).

We checked into our hostel, which was decent, but lacking in hot water. Thankfully, I spent a month living without hot water when I went to Guatemala. I've become an expert at the hokey pokey shower (that's where you put one limb in at a time). A little video from where we stayed:

Then we decided to hit the town, get some food, and relax. Oh yeah, and take some pictures.

A kid who lived nearby and insisted on being in the picture with Keith. After I snapped the photo, he promptly reviewed it, determined he looked good, and then attempted to try to teach me how to use my phone. He probably knew more about my iPhone at 4 than I ever will.

The next day, we set the alarm for something ridiculous like 4 am, so we could be first in line to get to Machu Picchu. Little did we know, everyone else seemed to do the same thing so there was a quite a line.

But, when we arrived, I was absolutely blown away! Words (nor my crappy cell phone pictures) cannot remotely do it justice. I was in awe the entire time. It was truly, truly amazing! I've wanted to see Machu Picchu for so long, and I think my jaw was open the entire time.

At the entrance, Keith and I quickly met up with a British woman, named Julie, who we split a tour with (since you can get your own private tour at Machu Picchu). We shared laughs and astonishment, and we joined her for lunch before leaving back to Cusco on the train.

Anyway, here are the pictures (be warmed, there are far too many of me shamelessly posing):
With our new friend, Julie.
The fog and clouds rolled in and out all day, and they were breathtaking.