Nov 15 & 16 – Zero day in Santiago + Travel Santiago to Cusco (2:30pm-4pm flight)

Nov 16 – Travel Santiago to Cusco (2:30pm-4pm flight)

Alli’s journal:

Kyu’s ponderings:

Tetsu’s jibber jabber:

(alli and kyu walked and had dinner)

Spent the day in santiago.  I mostly stayed at the hotel feeling under the weather.

Alli and kyu went out separately multiple times during the day, did shopping, and then went to an amazing looking restaurant that alli found.  Kyu ate so much all sent pictures of him zoned out from being so full.  They had a blast and brought me back food.

Alli was feeling under the weather starting that night.

I did catch this sunset photo from our airbnb

Waking up in the Airbnb, I was feeling much stronger. Having woken up fairly early, I met Kyu in the small kitchen area and we decided to go grab cofee from the Starbucks across the street.

And there, we met Alli’s doppleganger. Same blue hair, same wide smile, and same great effort to speak in a foreign language. We had a great time chatting with her, and her English was excellent.

We headed to the airport and decided to look for a bite to eat.

Knowing that every McDonalds around the world has at least a few things that were unique to the region, we checked it out.

And lo and behold. A Smoke House Carne, replete with a big piece of deep fried pork. YUMMERS!!!!

Our flight was uneventful and left at 2:30pm on time, arriving in Cusco at around 4pm’ish, as scheduled.

Normally, I hate window seats. I loathe the idea of having to go to the bathroom and having to walk past people. But on this flight, I’m so happy I had a window aisle.

In fact, if you’re ever flying northbound towards Cusco, I highly recommend getting a window seat on the right (starboard?) side of the plane.

There were clear views of towns amongst the ruins

It was beautiful to see the stepped agricultural fields climbing high into the mountains.

I could post dozens of pictures from the plane as it was amazing to see how people settled in steppes, plains, deep ravine valleys, and on the tops of plains. Just as interesting to see the housing get gradually denser and denser, until the city of Cusco really started to become evident.

Over the next several days this airport would become a symbol of problems we would experience. But at this moment, it was a beautiful sight with stunning mountain views behind the low airport building.

The airbnb’s owner, Rodrigo, was great.  The taxi couldn’t get all the way because of blocked roads, so Rodrigo came down to meet us, carried Alli’s pack (what a chivalrous gentleman!) and walked us to the airbnb which was great. 

The Airbnb has multiple entrances due to the steepness of the hill. The building’s entrance is on the third floor and is also a small bodega, also owned by the Airbnb owners.

We stayed in a small apartment on the second floor, and the first floor opened to a narrow back alley street through more apartment buildings.

The rooftop offered an amazing view of Cusco, all the way downhill to the base of the valley and the main square, and then up the other side.

We learned later that the valley of the city is split between the touristy areas, mostly showing off the older style of buildings, and mixed with distinctive Spanish style centuries old buildings and streets, including the Armas and markets and museums, and the other side of the valley with looks very much like a typical city, with busy multi-lane streets, tall buildings, well planned and architected campuses.

From here though, the city appears compact and hilly with steep streets lots of stairs and narrow alleyways.  Absolutely beautiful. So much of the cobblestone streets, buildings, and city layout exudes a sense of deep history. While there was also plenty of new construction, the feel was absolutely amazing.

Due to Alli still feeling under the weather, Kyu and i walked to downtown to get food.  It was all downhill.

It was wonderful just walking the streets to get to the main square.

The walk down was stunning. Some narrow streets with straight tall walled homes where the street curves giving beautiful effects.  Some straightaways, and wider open streets.

There are multiple armas (centers, squares, or open areas) and the downtown area is filled with tourist traps.  The main square is stunningly beautiful Spanish architecture. 

The second floor of many of the buildings jut-out a little to make mini terraces which also makes for beautiful overhangs for people walking along the first floor. I really wanted to experience drinking an espresso on one of these terraces. I missed that chance.

We even met a great street seller walking around, trying to pawn wares off on us. He was hilarious and clearly knew how to joke with tourists.

Kyu found a very cool restaurant called Yaku.  We ordered a bunch of food to bring back.  

We met two super helpful folks who chatted with us about Yaku, the square, and Cusco in general. The lady on the left is Ofelia

On the way back, well, not gonna lie …the walk back up was pretty brutal

On the walk back, we saw some folks hanging out just outside of a doorway and we chatted them up for a bit. Truth be told, I really just needed to catch my breath, hahaha.

But it was lucky rest, as we met the owner of the home, and he kindly said we could walk on in and take a look.

In the photo below, Lisandro is at left

Iloy, in the center, is the owner of hostel.  This was his grandfather’s home.  Been in the family ever since.  He turned it into a hostel.  

The doorway actually opens up to a courtyard with an amazing view of Cusco. The courtyard is nested between two buildings, the kitchen on the left and the residence on the right. Wow….

Also got to meet Davis

From NY originally, he’d lived all over US, Even in california.

And now, he lives here.

It’s always amazing to meet people who have the courage to learn about themselves and take the journey to learn about the world and themselves. So many people don’t brave such a personal and unknown journey. That takes guts.

After a “long and arduous” uphill battle (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, but really it was just a 15 minute walk), we finally saw the light of the small grocery store, like a lighthouse lighting the way for a wayward ship, and headed in the side gate to the apartment.

One more trip to the roof. Quite a view, isn’t it?

We had another adventure that evening and some scares of altitude sickness.

This also explained the dried cacao leaves in a bowl on the kitchen counter. In Cusco, dried cacao leaves are commonly used either in tea, or chewed as is. Though also the source of cocaine, in its more pure form, it is commonly used in Cusco as a way to deal with altitude sickness. Cacao increase the heart rate, bringing more oxygen to the brain. For me, managing my heart rate is pretty important, so I avoided too much of the stuff. Between a light headache and an increased heart rate, I’ll take the light headache every time, regardless of how annoying it is.

The horror stories we read about altitude sickness were a little nerve racking. It was enough for us to research nearby hospitals, and setup a schedule to check up on each other.

But in the end, it wasn’t too bad.

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