Lima airport felt like a bit of a time warp as it's so incredibly
modern compared to what surroundings I've had recently. It was as if I
was back in America or Europe, and quite strange to see Miami and New
York flights on the TV monitors, for it made me feel more close to home
than I have since arriving, as I could just reach out so simply to
reconnect with the homeland. The only really memorable thing about the
flight was some ditsy Canadian girls standing directly behind me in the
boarding line, discussing loudly how sick and contagious they are.
That's great girls, just keep breathing on my neck, no worries!
The scenery over was pretty nice though as we flew over the ridged
Andes near Cuzco, and soon I was in a cab to my hostel. As I arrived
so early I had a shower and had plenty of time to head to breakfast,
and I sat there the 3 Americans from my Banos crew, Zach, Max and
Sachin, wandered in.
We had a nice time discussing what we each had
been up to in the last few weeks, and set off to find an exciting
activity for the day.
Being with these guys makes me see clearly
the advantages to travelling alone, I must say. Don't get me wrong, I
was well happy to be in a group again, but with every extra person is
an extra opinion about what to do, where to go, and when. We finally
decided upon a 4 hour horse ride to some various ruins around the
city. Cuzco is ruin capital, they are absolutely everywhere! The city
is supposedly the oldest continuously inhabited city in all the
Americas, but whenever I hear statistics like that I wonder who really
can be sure about these things. It as well however has an extremely
Spanish influence nowadays, with the main Plaza del Armas
appearing as straight out of Madrid.
The houses have red tiled roofs
and off white walls, and the streets are uneven cobblestones, much like
Here however, the almighty dollar has a stronger presence, for the
street vendors approach you every 2 to 3 minutes selling dolls, tacky
hats, and little pictures. Its most definitely annoying to be treated
like a walking ATM, and it halfway ruins the magnificent splendor of
the city. Numerous churches and smaller plazas dot the area,
beautifying everything with green grass and fountains in contrast to
the dry city buildings. The city is a valley, so on all sides the
narrow lanes rise, full of the similarly shaded housed, and a few of
the hills have pictures or pro-Peruvian propaganda etched into them.
The horses we rode were well tame and calm, and we stopped a few times
to see the crumbling remains of once great structures. The main one, Sacsayhuaman
(pronounced like sexy woman) only Sachin entered as he had the tourist
ticket and we didn't, and there was no single entrance fee possible.
The outside view of the ruin however was still spectacular, and the
rest of us haggled for souvenirs and snapped pictures from outside the
gate while waiting.
After the ride there was much confusion as
to what to do next, as some needed to train station, some a bank, some
to eat, some the hostel, etc etc. Finally, after many cab rides and
much disarray, we headed to dinner at a restaurant recommended to
Sachin on a plane ride where he was apparently seated next to the
The place is called Mr. Meats, and despite an arguably terrible
name, is truly a magnificent place to eat. We were given our menus and
as soon as Sachin dropped the name of his acquaintance, these were
promptly whisked out of our hands and replaced with the locals cheaper
menus. Mr. Meats has a huge grill and numerous choices of what to
prepare on it, even down to a vegetarian steak. Both of the
adventurous brothers went for the local speciality of Alpaca, a common
llama type animal roaming the hills of South America. I chose the more
traditional lamb, and after our fill of the complimentary salad bar, we
were served our grilled delicacies. The steaks were absolutely
perfect, done just right and neither over nor under seasoned. I tried
a bit of the Alpaca as well just for the bragging rights of having done
it, for anyone curious its quite similar to beef, with a hint of
gaminess to it, and worth trying if you get the chance.
This meal may
have very well been the best I have ever had, ever, it was that good.
We promised to staff we'd be back Thursday night for more and set off
for the hostel. None of us felt like partying too hard, me as I had
been up since 3, and the others needed to get up early the following
day as well. Max and Zach were straight off to Machu Picchu
via the tourist train, Sachin however had his heart set on Ollytaytambo
, another ruin a bit closer, so I volunteered to go with him.