Last time I wrote was right before getting my bus to Arequipa which wasn’t that long ago but a lot has happened since then. I arrived in Arequipa early in the morning and found my way to a hostel called home sweet home. It was really more of a guest house. The building was funky with paintings all over the walls and a cute rooftop for breakfast and views of the volcano El Misti. Arequipa was fun to explore because the city is beautiful, it is famouse for it’s white stone buildings made from hardened lava from the volcano. It is a warm and relaxing city. I met up with some friends from Huacachina and we found a cool cafe with amazing falafel! We also went to a suburb of the city with a mirador lookout (super cool view of the city and volcanoes). I also met up with someone from couchsurfing in Arequipa. Erick was a super nice architect student who walked me around the city and answered all of my questions. Then brought me to his favorite bar.
From Arequipa I took another night bus to Cusco. Cusco is supposedly the oldest continuously inhabited city, pretty cool. Cusco is absolutely beautiful and as famous as it is for a reason. I’m a bit in love with the city. Im staying at a place that I found on couchsurfing but is also sort of a hostel because there are a lot of backpackers here. I met Valentin a guy from France and Katja a girl from Russia and we decide to embark on a several day trip to Machu Picchu together. Katja spoke only English and Valentin only Spanish so I got to translate a bit which was fun and good practice. We had to buy our tickets for Machu Picchu in advance in Cusco and then since we still had the rest of the day we took a beautiful drive out to the salt terraces of Moray and Maras. I have some really cool pictures of this on facebook at the beginning of the album called Cusco.
The next day we got up at 430 in the morning to take a bus to Santa Maria. At the bus station we met some other backpackers named Marius, Jooseph, and another Katja! The bus was late leaving to begin with and then about 3 hours in the bus broke down. Awesome. We watched as they took pieces of the motor out of the bus and started banging them on rocks…not encouraging. We decided we should try to hitchhike. After about an hour of trying and no cars stopping it began to rain. Discouraged I went back on the bus to sleep. Suddenly Valentin was waking me up and whispering to grab my stuff and get off the bus now. They had found a ride! The driver wanted 10 soles per person which is about 5 dollars and kind of pricey considering we were more than half way but we were not about to let our ONE DAY ONLY (75 dollar) tickets to the ruins go to waste. As soon as we hopped in the truck people from the bus started running over and everyone wanted a ride. The truck driver said 8 people maximum. I felt really lucky to get a ride.
The road we were on was actual terrifying. It is on a cliff and you can see evidence of landslides. At least it was gorgeous (misty green mountains and waterfalls everywhere). In some places waterfalls ran across the road. Signs said to drive 35 kph and im not great with kilometers but im pretty sure we were clocking in around 80…Then it started to rain which at first added to the excitement but then it started to pour. The road just kept on climbing upwards. The altitude was over 4000 meters which is a lot. One of the guys got altitude sickness and started throwing up over the edge of the truck. I felt bad for him but I was mostly just counting my lucky stars that it wasn’t me because my head was starting to hurt too. We chewed a lot of coca leaves…
We arrived in Santa Maria soaked, freezing, a little ill, and very relieved. In Santa Maria we got a combi (collectivo taxi) to Hydroelectrica. I thought the crazy road was over but I was wrong. The next road was even crazier. There was one part where the car drives over a river on two pieces of wood! LOCO is the only way I can describe this whole adventure and the pictures don’t do it justice. We stopped in Santa Theresa to gas the car. The gas station was just a home and a woman poured gasolina in the car through a funnel. We arrived in Hyroelectrica after the last train to Aguas Calientes. The only way to get to Aguas is by train or foot…at least it wasn’t raining anymore! The walk is 2 plus hours and by the time we arrived it was dark and we were stumbling.
Aguas Calientes was not what I was expecting! Because of Machu Picchu it is full of five star resorts and fancy restaurants! We finally managed to find a cheap enough hostel and some cheapish food. Then we passed out. The next morning we had to wake up at 430 again. Once again it was pouring rain. The hike up to the ruins was an hour of vertical climb. We huffed and puffed our way up and by the top we were drenched and tired. Even after all of this it was worth it! The first glimpse of Machu Picchu is incredible! It is just as spectacular as everyone says it is. When the clouds cleared and the rain stopped it was incredible. We found a good guide and very sneakily tagged along behind there group for a while heehee. We spent quite a while at the ruins before taking the treacherous hike down.
Back in Auguas we were so tired we decided to splurge on the tourist train for 30 soles. Unfortunately they were sold out for the rest of the day. We had been all set to go on the train so we were a little discouraged starting on the walk back. Fortunately it was a pleasant walk the second time around and we were really happy we saw the ruins. In hyroelectrica we got a combi and the driver drove us to the thermal pools in Santa Theresa. We stayed in the baths for several hours resting our aching legs. It was a great end to the day. Then the driver took us to Santa Theresa where we had food and found a cheap hospedaje.
In the morning we took a combi to santa Maria and then caught a bus bound for Cusco. The bus is long and brutal so we got off in Ollantaytambo to eat lunch and see a view of the inka ruins there. Then we took a taxi to Pisac another sacred valley village which had an incredible Sunday market. From Pisac it was just a one hour combi ride to the city. I was happy to be back in Cusco!
Today I took the Cusco free walking tour which is for travelers and the guides are students just working for tips. It is not a typical tourist tour. We saw cool parts the city and the people were great. I loved it! I think tomorrow I will leave for Puno but im not positive yet because I am a bit in love with Cusco!
Well thats it for now! Love and miss you all, until next time 🙂 besos.