A few of my coworkers and friends took the trip earlier in the summer and last year so I felt well prepared when I touched down in Cuzco's dinky airport. I started taking altitude sickness pills a few days before leaving so when I finally arrived at the Loki Hostel I didn't have any issues with the elevation aside from sucking wind whenever I tried doing anything physical (like sprinting up an incline against Elmo). After a $5 USD / 15 soles taxi ride (I got taken for a ride, even though Chief warned me in advance to not pay more than 10 soles) to the hostel, I checked in and found the crew lounging in the rear courtyard. I would have preferred to fly with Kevin, Lynn, Elmo and Tyler but had to stay in the states for the second day of competition (to be covered in the next post).
The hostel is closed off to the street with rooms on two levels facing two courtyards. In general all the public spaces are painted bright cheerful colors, some rooms have private bathrooms, most share bathrooms with other rooms. It's a very nice and relaxed atmosphere, if anyone is considering spending any time in Cuzco, Loki is a bit far from the Plaza de Armas but still a walkable distance. Taxi rides are also very cheap for those too weary to walk up the hill. We explored the neighborhood around Loki for an hour or so while we waited for our room to open up. Loki as I stated before is situated on the side of a hill which gives you a great view of Cuzco. But because it's on the edge of town there really isn't anything of interest on the hillside other than the residential blocks.
After moving into our new room we walked down towards the center of town and browsed through all the shops before settling in on an empty restaurant for lunch. We should have taking the cue when we walked in but hunger led to some irrational decisions. We ordered a tremendous amount of food and ate about a sixth of everything on the table. A word of advice, guinea pig isn't good, nor the alpaca meat which is NOT a suitable beef substitute. Chicken is probably the only safe thing to order... after lunch we walked around some more, Kevin and I found some nice cheap cowboy hats for about $30 pesos, perfect head wear for the trek. Elmo got ripped off buying a flute-like instrument, though in the whole scheme of things it really wasn't much.
The day before, the entire crew went to a massage parlor recommended by Andean Life. For some reason, Tyler was the only one who had his briefs removed during the massage. Guess they marked him as a sucker because every time we walked by the ladies on the street advertising massage services, they walked right up to Tyler and badgered him. On the rare occasion they walked up to one of the others in the crew, we would just throw our hands up and direct their attention to Tyler. Guess you had to be there.
In general, the Peruvians seem to be a bunch of honest hard working guys (and gals). However the entrepreneurial spirit doesn't seem to be prevalent. This will probably change in a few years if the kid we met on the street leading up to Chief's hotel is anything to go by. This kid followed us for a good 10 minutes trying to sell us postcards. At one point I almost went ahead and bought them not because I wanted them, but because I admired the kid's zeal. When we told the kid Lynn didn't have any friends to send the postcards to, he immediately shot back with, "what about her family?" Quick on his feet, though he didn't see a distinction between South Koreans and Japanese people.
That evening, we met our guide at the Andean Life offices for a briefing then met up with Chief for dinner at her hotel's restaurant. The food was great, think it was Thai-fusion, loads better than the Peruvian food we attempted to eat during lunch. Afterwards, we did some quick supply shopping before heading back to Loki for some last minute packing and some rest. Our guide was scheduled to pick us up bright and early the next morning.
Photo Gallery: Day 1, Day 2 in Cuzco by Kevin Boon.