From Lima I hopped on a fancy double-decker Cruz del Sur bus to go to Cuzco. It had real nice seats that lay down close to flat, with lots of leg room. Even though I knew it would be a 20 hr. ride, I wanted to be able to see as much of the country as possible. It was always interesting to see whole families at all the bus depots and air-ports saying their good-byes to their family members. This is something I never see in North America.
All was well for the first part of this trip. There was lots to see out the windows, good movies playing and food served. I woke up at midnight to sweltering heat. They had shut off the overhead vents and had turned the heat on. It was ungodly hot in there so I staggered to the bathroom and stuck my head by it's open window to cool off. When I came out, everyone else was awake and fiddling with their vents, trying to get them to work, all the while grumbling about the heat. The attendant was at the back of the bus on her chair, covered in a blanket, sound asleep. I shook her awake and with some hand motions made her understand that it was way too hot in there. She understood and turned the heat off, and the vent fans back on. After a half an hour of fresh air they once again turned off the overhead vents. No idea why they would do something like this? The heat stayed off also, so it was partially tolerable. It was dark out, and by the swaying back and forth of the bus, I was guessing that we where going through mountain roads with lots of switch-backs. With nothing to focus my mind on except the stifling heat, strange odors and constant swaying motion, I ended up feeling a bit queezy for the rest of the ride, but did survive.
Upon arriving in Cuzco my pack-sack got set down on the ground where someone had already set some leaky fish. Luckily most everything in my bag was encased in plastic bags or compression bags. I only had one book, the one with my travel notes, end up smelling like fish. I think next time I travel I will bring along one of those dry-sac bags they use for running rapids with, and use it when I am checking in my pack. The luggage compartments of some of the buses I was on where also quite dirty. Even a heavy-duty plastic garbage bag would work.
When I first arrived I wanted to leave the city as soon as possible. It looked like a very old, dirty, run down place. But, I had made myself a rule, and that was to stay at least a couple of days and see what there was to see. I am glad I did, and Cuzco ended up being my favorite city to stay at.
Cuzco is a very old city, with cobblestone streets. It is not a huge city like Lima, and everything seemed to be within 15 minutes of walking distance from the central plaza area. If your looking for an interesting tee-shirt this is the place to look. If your wanting to ship stuff home by curiour, you should have done it in Lima! DHL charged me $125 for a large envelope with a couple of tee-shirts and some DV cassettes in it. Crooks.
Like all the cities in Peru, there are some real old Catholic churches here. When the Spanish came, the Catholics had them destroy as much Inca architecture as they could, and they would then build their churches upon these sites. A real shame.
I walked around the city a bit, seeing what I could see. I was sitting in a small cafe having a burger when a guy walking by stopped and looked in at me. I finally recognized him as one of the French guys I met in the jungle. He had been waiting in Cuzco for a week for his buddy to show up, before he went off to see Machu Picchu. I was able to have a short visit with him, but had leave so I didn't miss my bus tour.
The cobble-stone streets are quite narrow and lots are only 1 lane. They have lots of small Asian cars that they use for taxis. Lots of the makes we don't even see in North America. There are also lots of buses in Cuzco. I am guessing that only 2% of the vehicles on the road are privately owned.
I ended up staying at the Apu Wasi Hostal. It was ok. The room could have had a table and coat hangers on the wall to make them allot more livable, but otherwise they where clean, and they had breakfast. The wooden doors should be sanded a bit so they close without binding. Tea was also always available, with a bowl of cocoa leaves on the counter so one could make their own fresh cocoa tea. Cocoa leaves are very good at helping with altitude sickness. Cuzco is around 3,400 Meters so most everyone ends up with a few symptoms. Upset stomach, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and the inability to sleep are what high altitudes can do to you.
As I was wandering the streets around the plaza latter in the afternoon I was offered a massage for $12, which is a 1/3 the price I normally pay, so I went for it. I didn't get much out of it, and would have gladly payed $60 for a good one. After walking around for another half an hour I was asked by someone else if I needed a massage. I told them I just had one, but it wasn't overly good, and I didn't need another one, but when offered to do it for $7 I couldn't resist. This one was also a waste of time. I then walked another 15 minutes and was offered another one, but told them maybe the next night, which I did, and it was also a waste of time!