Category Archives: Peru and Bolivia

In the Heights of Cusco

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.


Peru and Beyond

A few months ago I posted a blog about a credit card from American Airlines that would give you 75,000 miles.  After receiving those miles, I wanted to take a trip unlike any other.  That is when I came up with the idea to let everyone vote to send me anywhere in the world.  Initially, I was very nervous because some of my idiot friends thought they’d be funny and vote for Utah.  Fortunately after all the votes were counted Peru won.  The only real planning I did before my trip was buying Machu Picchu tickets because they limit the number of people that can enter Machu Picchu.

The night before I left, I went to to find a place to stay for my first night in Lima.  After reading the reviews and looking at the prices, I decided to stay at the Pariwana Hostel.  They had me at $8 with breakfast included.  At that price, I was expecting a nice buffet with eggs, cereal, fresh fruit, oj, and maybe some live classical music.  To my dismay there was only bread, tea, and granolas (the people, not the food).  Although breakfast didn’t meet my expectations, the rooms and bathrooms were clean, and it wasn’t too loud at night.  Can’t ask for much more in a hostel.

If you are going to stay in Lima, I recommend staying in Miraflores or Barranco.  Both places are a little far from the airport, but they are a lot safer and there are some good things to do close by.

To all those adrenaline junkies, you have to go to Peru and ride in a combi.  It was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life!  Riding in a combi is similar to bumper cars.  The only differences are these bumper cars travel at 40 mph and don’t have bumpers or seat belts.  Combi drivers seemed to go out of their way to try and hit one another.  Several times we literally came within inches of hitting another van.  Arriving at bus stops was the worse.  They would drive really fast to the bus stop and swerve at the last minute to get in front of another driver.  When they couldn’t get in front they would pull in closely to the side of another van and try to squeeze their way to the front.  During my ride, I thought I was going to die in a fiery ball of carnage

Riding combis was an awesome way to begin my trip to Peru!