Friday, March 7, 2008

Final Days in Cusco

Just a quick update as I near my final days in Cusco. Tomorrow I'm headed to Machu Picchu. I am taking the train at 6:20 tomorrow morning to the stop-over in a place called Aguas Calientes. I'll spend Saturday night there and then at dawn the next morning we head up to Machu Picchu. I can't wait. I would have liked to do the 4 day trek, but lacked both the time and the advance reservations (they only issue a certain number of permits to trek Machu Picchu per month for conservation reasons)... so I am doing it two days by train.

Anyways, in the past few days in Cusco, I have walked around town, bought loads of artesanal crap at the local markets, drank and ate things I probably shouldn't have, but am feeling fine. I walked into a large open-air market the other day where there were tons of fresh juice stands and I couldn't resist buying a passion-fruit pineapple combination, despite how shady and unsanitary looking the market may have been :) I have also eaten excellent ceviche, quinoa soup (a local grain), and next on the list is Cuye.

Yesterday I did a day trip into the Sacred Valley, where there are tons and tons of Inca ruins, and today I rode a horse around some more ruins. It was just me and my 18-year old Peruvian trail guide riding today, and he told me all about this excursion people do where they go to the mountains with a Shaman and drink some sort of hallucinogenic plant from the Peruvian jungle, and its supposed to purify you and bring your life into perspective. He took me to the Shaman's house to see if I wanted to do it, but the Shaman wasn't there.

I also learned about medicinal uses from a bunch of types of plants, and crawled through dark scary caves, and am now completely exhausted. The altitude here makes a 5 minute walk feel like 5 miles.

Anyways, in my down time, I have been drinking with Scots from my hostel, dining with French, Irish and Lithuanian folk, and sleeping in my freezing cold hostel with my big new Alpaca wool sweater, which, at the rip-off, Gringa-tax price, still only cost me about $12 USD.

Can't wait to update with stories from Machu Picchu!

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