Monday, May 22, 2017

How to be a Tourist in Cusco, Peru

1. Buy a painting from a vendor off of the street.
The first day, Oliver paid 20 soles for a picture of Machu Picchu. Recently, I was offered a very similar photo for only one sole.
            2. Expose your knees, especially as a woman.
Native Peruvian women don’t really show their knees. So far, I’ve only seen about four Peruvian women with their knees exposed.
            3. Wear glasses.  
Maybe they all wear contacts? Does everyone in Peru have 20/20 vision? It’s truly uncanny.
            4. Wear sunglasses.
I don’t exactly know how to explain this one either. One time, I saw a Peruvian man wearing sunglasses, and I ended up falling into the street. See number 15.
            5. Wear a raincoat during a sun shower.
One day, we were caught in a sun shower. For those who do not know what this is, it defines the weather when it is sunny yet still raining. We were truly the only ones wearing raincoats.
            6. Go to Jack’s Café.
This café is located right next to our hotel, and it is painfully catered to Americans. They have cheeseburgers, French toast, and every other American food that you didn’t think was American until it was on this menu. They even served us ketchup.
            7. Go to La Bo’m.
An absolutely amazing crepe place. However, on our multiple trips there, I have never seen a Peruvian. Only French or American.
            8. Hesitate too long to cross the street and have a driver honk his horn at you.
Ask Oliver about this one. Today, as Oliver was about to cross the street in the designated pedestrian zone, a taxi driver proceeded to speed up, nearly hitting Oliver, all while maintaining direct eye contact.
            9. Wear a watch.
Time doesn’t seem to be a concern here. Meals always take a long time. Maybe it’s because people don’t wear watches, restaurants don’t have the time, our hotel rooms don’t have clocks. If you don’t see it, then it doesn’t exist, right?
            10. Play with the dogs in La Mayor Plaza.
There are dogs everywhere in this city, and they are all adorable. A few times we have tried to befriend some certain pups, but it usually ends up with the dogs barking at us and us standing there both confused and betrayed.
            11. Buy four chompas at the same time.
Chompas are essentially equivalent to sweatshirts, but they are generally made out of alpaca, so they are warmer. I live in Charleston, South Carolina, and I have bought three. Hey, it gets cold in Nashville!
            12. Get harassed about receiving a massage.
When we walk down the street, women hold out signs advertising massages and other spa procedures. Frequently, we hear “massache?” and see a woman holding out the laminated flyer. However, there are usually a line of women, and even though you say no to one of them, each and every single one will ask you, “massache?
            13. Not being able to exchange a $20 that has a tiny rip at the top.
This has happened to multiple people. One lady at the exchange store only accepts crisp, seemingly brand-new American dollars. However, if you go the next day there is usually a different lady who will take your money, even if you have a tiny rip at the top.
14. Have waiters/vendors speak to you in English and you ask for them to speak to you in Spanish.
It can be painfully awkward. We went on this trip to practice our Spanish, and it can be uncomfortable to ask them to speak to us in Spanish. It’s like they know we’re from the United States! Shocking.
15. Fall in the street.
I cannot reiterate this enough. There are so many hidden bumps and holes, you have to pay attention all the time. The sidewalks are very skinny and the ledges are very pronounced; however, you don’t always notice them. Today, I saw a Peruvian fall in the street, and I felt better about myself. True story. I have also fallen in the street. See number 4 for more details.
16. Feed any dog you see.  
Dogs here are aplenty, and the only people who feed them are tourists. Or the trash men at night, but I don’t think that Americans are supposed to know that part.
17. Comment on how short Peruvians are.
Upon our arrival, I thought the whole “Peruvians are short” was a joke, but it truly isn’t. They really are short. A few students have had some trouble finding clothes that fit them even.
18. Get carsick when travelling anywhere.
The best way to travel around Cusco is by foot; however, that cannot always happen. When you do drive in a car, expect stomach-churning twists and turns and traffic that may or may not scar you for life.
19. Be appalled when an establishment plays American music, especially Lana Del Rey.
When we visited Pisac, we went to a café called the Blue Llama. (I don’t entirely understand the name either; there is no such thing as blue llamas – I checked.) Anyways, the food was fantastic, but the one day we were there, they only played Lana Del Rey. If you like her music, then the Blue Llama café is for you. However, the whole group decided that we were in Pisac, Peru, and we preferred music from the area and not the voice of Lana Del Rey.
20. Run into people you had the same flight as.
Cusco, although crowded, is not tiny, and tourists tend to frequent the same places. One day, Jordan ran into three people she made friends with on her flight here from Lima to Cusco.
21. Rate how good a café is based on how many people can connect to their Wi-Fi simultaneously and still have it work.
This is extremely important when visiting a café. Wi-Fi is available in many places here in Cusco, but that doesn’t mean that it is any good. Whenever someone in our group finds a new café to do work in, the first question is always, “How is the Wi-Fi?”
22. Wear flip-flops.
The streets here are cobblestone. I’m talking the kind that feels good if you step on it correctly. (I prefer right in the middle of my foot.) Wearing flip-flops is just plain stupid. Also, it’s too cold to wear them. Stick to sneakers.
23. Take a picture of the stone wall.
On the way to La Mayor Plaza, there is a passageway with a stone wall constructed the most famous Incan way: without any mortar. You can find tourists flocking around the wall, touching it, posing with it. Although a total tourist move, this wall is truly impressive. Ask Rachel to see the photo she took of it.
24. Pose with the women in traditional dress with baby farm animals.
We fell prey to this the first day. You can take a photo, but don’t expect it to be free. They bait you in with the baby animals, and boy does it work.
25. Have the time of your life.
Cusco is an absolutely amazing city, and I 100% plan on returning... I know that I won’t be the only one from our group to do so.

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