It was a long and strange trip on a bus for 25 hours to travel from Lima to Cusco (the CuZco with a Z is something only gringos use). Blake and I splashed out an extra 30 soles ($13) to get the ejecutivo service on Moviltours bus service, which included a few meals and also the fabled "cama total". Cama total is the king of bus seats, essentially a lazy boy recliner with an extra few inches of butt space and deeply reclining seat. Given the length of the trip it was totally worth it.
A few notes on the bus ride:
1) The Peruvian Pacific coast is the most post-apocolyptic landscape I have seen, especially given the winter microclimate which gives an eternal heavy gray sky. It is dark grey sand dunes many hundreds of feet high sloaping sharply down to the sea, which has large whitecap waves crashing continuosly. There is nothing to see that is not grey. Periodically, small concrete or shanty houses, set into very large, vacant, plantless acreges will punctuate the landscape. Very, very rarely these houses will have washlines outside, proving it is not a ghost city.
2) Despite the length of the journey the bathroom is for pee only, no pooping allowed. I am not sure how they enforce this rule, other than very stern and accusing looks by our otherwise stern and accusing stewardess. Additionally, nearly every surface in said bathroom was wet. EWWWWW.
3) Even with the cama total this is a long haul. Temperature control on the bus is not great. Thank you dramamine and Tylanol PM and my iphone for the assistance in making the bus journey one long foggy memory. I am learning quite a bit about Catherine the Great via audiobook.
FOILED AGAIN, in our Ausengate trek
It seems the micro flora and fauna of Peru hates our guts, in a literal way. We checked into the very lovely Hostal Kuntar Wasi, overlooking the city on Tandapata in the San Blas neighborhood. Following some Lonely Planet advice and wanting to watch the World Cup we went to Los Perros, a reccomended backpacker bar where we hoped to be friendly and get advice from fellow travelers. After a burger and a pisco drink we headed back to the hotel.
Los Perros gave us NASTY food poisening. In a very classic case of "oh $/&!" both Blake and I awoke the next day feeling awful. Despite this, we took an interesting but stressful journey to the municiple hostpital where I was able to obtain a replacement international vaccination card without having to get the yellow fever vaccine twice in one month. Going to the hospital was the highlight of the day. By mid-afternoon it become clear we were going to need to hunker down in our hotel and work hard to fight dehydration due to violent illnesss. Having throughouly scoped out the medical situation here in Peru at both the public and private clinics as I worked to replace my forgotten yellow card (indicating I am vaccinated, and neccessary to travel in Bolivia) I did not want to have to return, so we stayed the course and recovered after a very nasty evening. Those poor people in the room next to us...
Given that this is the second round of food/water borne illness I am describing, I feel the need to defend Blake and I against accusations of unsanitary living. The only street food we have eaten is potato chips. The only water we have drunk has been bottled or filtered first and with added Sweetwater antimicrobials added. We even brush our teeth with the bottled water. We wash our hands. We have eaten at popular restaurants reccommended in the guide book and ordered nothing particularly unusual for Peru. Think lots of exotically spiced chicken soup, rotisserie chicken, papas fritas (fries), and the occasional burger. My guess is we have had really bad luck and that the Andes have kept this half of South America far enough away from us Denverites that we have zero immunity to whatever bugs may make it through the defenses.
Our nasty time changed our plans. Our original plans had us spending just a day or so in Cusco before heading out on a very exciting trek to circumnavigate Ausengate, a sacred apu mountain just south of the city. We were going to go to the fantastic festival of Quillor Riti in an alpine valley at 15,000 feet and watch the largest indigenous pilgramage in the Americas. Nuts to that. We re-considered in light of recovering our health and decided to stay in Cusco for roughly a week. It has been a good decision, as we are both feeling better and have had time to re-plan and adjust our expectations.
In my next post, I will tell you about all the fun things we have discovered in this lovely ancient/colonial/modern city. Do not worry about us, as we are fine and still delighted to be in Peru.