From day one, my friend Kyle and I joked about being able to “blend in” during our time in Peru. Our second day in Peru demonstrated how awesome we were at “blending in”. When we got to the Lima Airport to go to Cusco, Kyle couldn’t figure out which trash can to throw his wrapper in. He made a circle around three differently marked trash cans with a confused look on his face. Like a good friend, I watched him struggle as he attempted to read and understand the Spanish writing on each trash can. Finally, a local Peruvian had mercy and pointed where he should throw away his wrapper.
Then we went to our gate and got in line to board the plane. When we handed the lady our ticket she said, “you two are on the next flight, not this one.” It was so ridiculous. I have traveled for over 16 years and I speak Spanish, but couldn’t board the right plane. We were off to a great start of not standing out. Kyle couldn’t throw away his trash and we couldn’t board the correct flight.
When we made it to Cusco, we were a little nervous about altitude sickness. A lot of people, both on blogs and in Peru, warned us about the impacts of altitude sickness. At the Cusco Airport our fear increased when we saw a poster of a family at Machu Picchu with one of the family members throwing up out of the frame because of the altitude. Directly after the poster we saw places where you could buy oxygen. I almost ran over to the oxygen station to buy an entire oxygen tank so I wouldn’t be like the guy on the poster. Fortunately, I realized that I was fine. The rest of the trip we blammed everything negative on the altitude. I feel that everyone overplayed the impact of the altitude. Aside from feeling out of breath and watching 80 year-old Peruvian women running by me as I labored to climb a set of stairs, I didn’t notice much of a difference. I wouldn’t worry too much about the altitude, but if you do get sick make sure to drink lots of fluids and try the coca tea. Tourists and Peruvians swear by it. Or you could buy an oxygen tank and carry it around with you.
Once we arrived in Cusco we found a place to stay, and wouldn’t you know it, it was the Pariwana. We then walked around Cusco until we found the Plaza de Armas. For anyone visiting Peru, if you ever get lost go to the Plaza de Armas. This is the main square in every city and town. I really enjoyed the plaza because of the old style buildings and two churches. There were a lot of places to eat and enjoy the view of the plaza. One place we enjoyed was Paddy Flaherty’s. It was a small pub to the right of the Cathedral. We enjoyed it because it had an excellent view of the plaza and they showed soccer.
We may not have blended in, but we had arrived in the heights of Cusco.