Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 12 - Inca´s Land of the Lost

Remember the guy who was sitting in the dark room who nonchalantly claimed our luggage would make it on the bus to Cuzco? Well, it wasn´t until 5 am in the morning when we got to our destination that we discovered our luggage hadn´t travelled with us. It was probably still with the shady guy in the shady office for all we knew. The bus conductor called the Andahuaylas office and told us that our luggage would arrive here at 5 pm. We had twelve hours before we´d get our beloved belongings. Hopefully.

Getting a place to stay in Cuzco wasn´t easy. Since so many tourists leave early for Machu Pichu or other day trips, the places we inquired at were open...but all full, or super expensive. After knocking on at least 15 doors, we finally settled on Hostel Acosta. The room was dark and small. The walls a Pepto Bismol pink and the beds still unmade. My lack of sleep deterred me from any more unpleasant thoughts and I dozed off for four hours. Soon after I woke ujp, we booked another room in the San Blas region of Cuzco, well known for the artesian shops in the area. The room was airy, artistic, and had a lovely balcony just for us. I can´t wait to move in there tomorrow.

I don´t know if I like Cuzco. Sure, the plaza is huge, the streets cobblestony, the air crisp and the mountain views clear. The food is veggie friendly, the handicrafts inexpensive...but there are just too many tourists. That is diluting the Peruvian experience for me. Everywhere I look, there are people like me- wide-eyed and overdressed gringos in excessive Peruvian attire. Women in traditional clothing sit by the tiny alleys with their cute baby llamas. Their mantra is "photo, photo" so that they can earn a few centimos when tourists click their picture. Boys and girls holding portfolios eagerly display traditional watercolors inide. Shoeshiners, jewelry vendors, massage spa advertisers, everyone has a portable case to sell their products in. There is no dearth of marketing in what at one time must have been a nice, quiet place. This was, of course, before Machu Pichu became all the rage as one of the wonders of the world.

We were at the bus station at 5 pm sharp. One Los Chancas office led to another until we were told that the bus would be arriving at 8 pm. Exasperated would be an understatement. I never missed my sleeping bag as much as I did then. After five days of non-washed hair, I desperately needed a shower. So I beared the chilled water and used a bedsheet instead of a towel to do the deed. I didn´t care if I was wearing the same clothes I´d worn two days in a row. I was clean! Refreshed, I ate dinner at a place called "The Indian Restaurant". For a place with so assertive a name, the food was average. After dinner, we made our third visit to the bus terminal.

8 pm came...the bus would come at 8:20. Okay, it´s 8:25, still waiting. The doors open and behold - my bright orange backpack now grayed from dust welcomes my hopeful eyes. I recall clapping and grinning from ear to ear. It felt as if I was greeting a long missed relative, which happened to be a backpck con sleeping bag. "Con" is "with" in Spanish. See? I am learning.

As we prowled the streets for something to do at night, we came across a little bar, Mandela´s Bar. A man was juggling with fire outside the entrance. Inside, the ambience of Che posters and mystic elephant paintings resonated with the dreadlocked hippy crowd. Soon, a music session started with traditional instruments. The men´s faces glowed from the small fire lit in the center of the room. The beats were mesmerizing and I didn´t waste time in getting to my feet. As Sucharit and I danced with the packed crowd, Nikhil struck up a conversation with Kilua, a fellow flute player. When the night ended a few hours later, he invited us to go with him and his friends to the mountains tomorrow night. "Just bring warm clothes and food," he said. "We´ll sleep in stone tunnels." Sucharit is eager to go, I feel guarded and don´t trust these people I don´t know. As I fell asleep in my lovely sleeping bag, I thought about the room we´be staying in tomorrow, where my alarm would be sunshine pouring in through the open balcony instead of Sucharit´s voice.


  1. Parul ! I eagerly wait for your updates. Its so much fun reading your blogs. I feel as if I am travelling with you. take care.