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A view




A trip to Peru

Part 2: A room named Oscar

Then we spent a couple of days in Cusco taking it easy. The altitude was kicking our butts. At first every flight of stairs had to be taken slowly, but we steadily improved our altitude tolerance. Cusco is a much more tourist oriented city than Arequipa. In fact, it seemed like a Disneyland version of a Peruvian city where everything was clean and freshly painted and oriented towards the tourist. So much so that we started calling it Gringobamba.

There are quite a few interesting places to visit in Cusco, itself the site of an Inca city.

And if you look for it, you will find the parts of the city where the locals live and shop and eat. I don't understand how those little restaurants serve a lunch of several courses for the equivalent of about one US dollar.

Then there is the Mercado, the huge market filled with stalls that sell pretty much anything you might need, and very inexpensively.

We befriended a group of shoeshine/postcard boys who cruised the plaza like sharks, seeking tourist prey. The most impressive part of our stay in Cusco was our day long journey through the Sacred Valley. We stopped at Pisco, inappropriately famous for its market, but the home of some interesting ruins. Ollantaytambo is another village, which has a water system that was built by the Incas and is still in service. And the old church at Chinchero, which we visited at dusk, also was memorable. So, too, was the journey itself into and through the valley.

Hiking around the Pisco ruins was a strain for my lover, because of the altitude. But it was a hike from Cusco up to the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuamán that pushed her beyond her limit. She was not ready for that exertion. Not that it hit her immediately, except for shortness of breath and some minor nose bleeding. We had a fine time exploring the Sacsayhuamán ruins, which are walls made of stones too large for the Spanish to move, so it was one trace of the Incas that the Spanish could not obliterate. After we hiked back down from the ruins, she started feeling more symptoms of altitude sickness. In the late morning we made our way back to Niños Hotel, to the room named Oscar.

Niños Hotel is a wonderful place, a sanctuary, a haven, and part of a charity foundation that helps street children. The staff are wonderful, the décor is tasteful and relaxing. One look at the sunny courtyard tables and you want to spend the day there instead of heading out on the streets of Cusco.

They serve simple but delicious home made food there. And the rooms are equally inviting. Oscar was particularly cheerful with the warmth of the afternoon sun coming through the windows as I cuddled my lover in bed. Sometimes we talked and sometimes we just shared the warmth of togetherness and she drifted in and out of sleep. I was worried about her. I knew very early the next morning I would be leaving and we would not see each other until we met days later at Machu Picchu. At times she was almost delirious with altitude sickness, and I worried that she would not be able to get herself to the train the next morning, even though I had arranged a taxi for her. But she assured me she would be OK.

I sorted out and packed the things for her to take and I packed my backpack. The additional stuff I packed in a bag and left on a shelf along with numerous other boxes, suitcases, and bags in the Niños storage room, which is kind of an honor system affair.

Much later she was hungry, and we knew from experience that the only thing she would be likely to keep down would be avocado, so I went out looking for one. The street vendor at the corner was gone for the evening.
I asked at several tiendas, with no success.

Finally I remembered that the vegetarian restaurant, Govinda's, where we had shared a couple of meals, might have one. I rushed there and begged them to sell me one, which they did. As my lover ate part of her avocado, I ate a Niños sandwich of home made bread and cheese.

Picture Page: People & Places

Part 3: Darkness gave way to daylight

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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