Im like a bird, I long to fly away.....

Cusco Travel Blog

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In the morning Zach, Max and I headed to our paragliding session at half 7, so I said my goodbyes to Sachin, who was not at all enthused at the idea of jumping off a Peruvian cliff.  We arrived at the spot, a beautiful idyllic scene overlooking the famed sacred valley of Cuzco.  Rugged and ridges mountains sat all around a green well manicured village with a river snaking through the middle.  The mountains were so high they were snow capped, and indeed where we were standing was certainly not warm!
   Max was the first to be strapped into the harness, and we all waited eagerly for the tandem guide to give the go ahead and jump.  We waited, and waited, and waited, and 2 and a half hrs later we were still waiting in the bitter cold. Unfortunately the wind just wasn't strong enough, so we hoped things would change soon as the 2 guys had to be back in Cuzco for a flight before too long.  Finally, behind us a mini tornado appeared like a beacon and started whipping sand into a cylindrical shape.  I had never seen such an isolated wind tunnel, and while I was marvelling at it the guide decided the wind was finally active enough, so they ran towards the edge, puffing the huge kite out behind them.
    Max's ride was a bit of a let down as the guide couldn't find any decent thermals on the mountainside to get good leverage.  After about 15 minutes his paraglider could no longer be seen, and his total experience was a simple drift down into the valley rather than any real paragliding.  40 minutes later they came back as the driver had gone to pick them up, and by then it was clear only 1 more, if any person could fit in a ride before we went back.  I let Zach go ahead next, as I was still in Cuzco for a while and could reschedule.  I must say I really felt like the day was wasted, as I did nothing but sit outside and freeze my ass off for 4 solid hours.  There was a tiny building to on  side but as one wall was open it wasn't much warmer, plus it was occupied by an attendant and her screaming infant and whining 3 year old.  another American appeared out of nowhere to also wait for a paraglide, he unfortunately did nothing to improve the mood as he babbled nonstop and ended every sentence with a nerve cringing "huh" which I know should be a small detail, but is actually extremely annoying.  Once Zach had his ride, a slightly better and longer one as conditions were improving, we set off back to Cuzco.  I rebooked myself for the 17th, but if the weather is bad that day, as the forecast says it will be, I won't be able to go. I unfortunately will also have to go alone without the lads company, and will have no one to take that all important right at take off shot.
    Not really in the highest of spirits, I had to pop into an Internet cafe, but couldn't remain long as the employees child was singing and banging a chair in one ear, and a thick accented English girl was loudly telling her mom over Skype all about her boyfriend and personal life in the other.  As Darren can well contest too, its one of my biggest pet peeves to be forced to listen to other peoples one sided phone conversations, and Skype unfortunately nearly guarantees this in every Internet cafe.  "I hate that woman" the girl announced to her unwilling audience after she finally terminated the call.  Nice.  My next duty was to call down to the agency hosting my Machu Picchu trek to get the final details.  I finally found it, but it certainly wasn't easy.  Cuzco is so hard to walk through as its full of vendors selling you crap, guys whistling or trying to talk to you (and every other white girl) plus the sidewalks are narrow and everyone meanders slowly.  The traffic is heavy and road crossings barely exist, and here, like all of South America, pedestrians most certainly do NOT have the right of way.  Instead you stand stuck for 5 minutes before a slight break in the cars, so you mad dash across, only to have the next car blare his horn at you no matter how far back he is, enraged you dare step foot on his road.  The streets all have numerous names, the Spanish and the Quechua, and every street the names all change, usually without posting this difference.  I have been doing fairly well with navigation (for me, anyways) but searching out my agency in these conditions left me wrecked and frustrated.  Finally, I found it and went in for my briefing.
    Once there I heard the final piece of bad news to top off my already crappy day. Apparently, 4 people had been booked into the trek, 3 others and me, but now somehow I was the only one left.   I really did not like this idea, as I was envisioning a group of 10 to 15 potential friends.  As a lone traveller who's doing so not out of choice but necessity, its comforting to sometimes have a group atmosphere set up so you don't have to work so hard or feel so awkward making friends.  And now here was my most expensive outfit by far, 4 days of what is supposed to be a life changing experience, and it would be only me.  To say I was disappointed doesn't even scratch the surface.  People tell me quite often how brave I am for travelling alone, but to be honest I would 100% prefer to be with at least one other person on this trip.  Usually things are ok and I hate to sound like I'm whinging, but to not mention at all that it's often getting me down would not be a realistic summary of my journeys.  I try to console myself generally that I wont remember most of the bad times, due to our memory's habit of compacting long drawn out experiences into the briefest recollection in the future.  Try to remember, for instance, the last time you were stuck in some god forsaken line for ages (airports are the worst for this).  At the time you had to painfully endure every grinding second, but as a memory all that time boils down to a 1 second memory of "a line."  So, I hope it is the same for the times I am down, but doing a 4 day trek myself is a hard one to mask.
    Feeling totally defeated, I went back to the hostel.  I also seem to have caught a cold at this very inopportune time, and a cold sore is even cropping up on my upper lip.  Today is one of those days I'm definitely glad I didn't book too long of a trip.  I do feel quite rushed and short of time to do everything, but at this same time I think 2.5 months is just right for me.  My trip is nearly 1/2 over, and that's pretty much exactly where I want to be.  I'm enjoying myself immensely so am happy to have more to look forward to, but the negatives do inch in, and part of me is relieved that they too are half over.
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photo by: Vlindeke