Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 1: Coca, Altitude, Socks and Other Craziness

My first day in Cuzco was somewhat of a whirlwind. I remember worrying that my altitude medicine wouldn’t work, panicking a bit at the fact that drinking mate de coca may make me fail a drug test, and marvelling at how many thick blankets were on my bed. After my bed and I became well acquainted (travel exhaustion will do that to you) Julia and I decided to explore the city. We breathlessly walked up a giant hill in search of the Plaza de Armas, and never had I felt a lack of oxygen more (fears about malfunctioning altitude medicine resurfaced). After several wrong turns and a call to profe, we eventually wandered into the large plaza that featured a giant fountain in the center. Unfortunately, our t-shirts and leggings signalled to every alpaca pen seller in a 10-mile radius that we were potential buyers. After many long explanations of why we couldn’t buy [insert small alpaca or Andean culture product here], the two of us realized that “no gracias” was the best phrase to get the persistent salespeople to move on. Eventually, after spotting many dogs, feeling confused about whether it was cold or hot outside, and giving a brief English lesson to a bus-tour salesman, Julia and I meandered back to Casa Elena (the long way… not purposefully but we didn’t know better). The class ate a delicious dinner at Kushkafe, and that night I learned the cold way why there were so many blankets on the bed… and the value of fluffy sleep socks.

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