When In Doubt, Go to Peru
March 13, 2009 by rtwsenior
It has been four days since I last wrote a blog, and that´s an eternity in blogtime, so my apologies. My very valid excuse is that I haven´t had access to a good computer in awhile. The one at the very fine hostel ($25) here in Cuzco was so slow that all I could manage was a peek at my emails. I have now moved to a $15 hostel and their computer is broken, so I´m way across town and it´s already night. Cuzco feels very safe, so I don´t worry that I shall have to hoof it up some pretty steep cobblestone narrow streets to find my way home tonight. It´s worth it to bring you guys up to speed.
As the title of this blog implies, I would heartily recommend all of Peru, but especially this Sacred Valley portion, as a most wonderful place to come and spend your time. I´ve already been in this country for a month and might stay another two weeks, lingering twice as long as I did in Colombia or Ecuador. That will give me about a month to cover Bolivia, Chile and Argentina before flying home at the end of April, so I´ve blown my time budget, but I love this place! I find Peru more affordable than the other two, though they were very reasonable and mighty friendly and beautiful in their own right. I have found a deeply spiritual atmosphere here and many people who are on the mystical path in this land so steeped in mystical history.
Any day now, I´ll do some tours to really cover the waterfront, but I like to go through the museums and cathedrals at my own speed, not having to pay close attention to a guide´s university lecture. This weekend will surely find me tagging along in a group, snapping my pictures with the best of them because I simply must DO Cuzco and some surrounding Incan ruins in a way that I can truly comprehend them.
Monday, March 16th, I will be aboard the inaugural flight of Star Peru Airlines as it establishes its route between Cuzco and Puerto Maldonado at the edge of the Amazon Jungle. My primary reason for going is to have a visit with my son´s childhood friend who has grown up to become a priest in a small family of monks, The Family of Jesus, there in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, but this is also the only time I will see the Amazon on this whole trip, so it´s lucky planning.
Here, I´ve been faithfully polluting my body with a daily Malarone pill to prevent Malaria, and I haven´t yet been in mosquito regions. I´m even lugging a large mosquito net and all sorts of bug stuff. Will my five days there justify all that prevention? Probably not, but I´m going prepared anyway. I will leave my heavy cold weather clothing here in Cuzco; those that I have been wearing in so many layers these days and even as we speak.
Upon return from the jungle, I will again settle into my hostel in Cuzco, continue the chiropractic adjustments because I have found a crackerjack doctor, who charges $15 per appointment, and though I don´t have pain or symptoms, I did just have that pesky “shingles of the face” attack last week, and am making sure that I am well-adjusted before hoisting that heavy backpack for much more mileage. That week is when I will go to the Sacred Places in the vicinity of Cuzco, including Machu Picchu – but NOT the Inca Trail.
Every upwards street or hilllside, or volcano ascent, or even a stack of stairs, has counted as my own personal Inca Trail and I have overcome the need to be macho at Machu. I´ve heard the tales of the returning trekkers and all their little details about sleeping cold on the rocky ground for three nights. Heck! I sometimes shiver under all my blankets in a 60-degree room here. Nothing seems to be heated…but it´s summer here. So, don´t expect to read about me and the Trail. I´m taking the only train that I´ve yet heard of in this neck of the woods and then, I´ll stay in the delightful little town of Agua Caliente, and bask in their hot springs before returning to Cuzco. After awhile, it will be time to bus to Puno beside the famous Lake Titicaca and then go on into Bolivia.
So folks, consider coming to Peru….all on your own. Forget about the tour groups. you don´t need them. Get a round trip flight from wherever you are into Lima (you´d be surprised how cheap they can be if you shop around) and then fly on to Cuzco. You can make all the arrangements, right here in town, to see and do whatever your heart desires. You can make your hotel or hostel reservations online soooooo easily. Taxis are plentiful and cheap. If you like tour guides, you can hire them on the spot, but if you don´t they are not at all necessary. Prices are very good. You don´t need to know Spanish. This country, and particularly, this part of this country, is completely set up for tourism. They want and love you and they are such sweet and gentle people that they will not tout you to death to get you to buy their wares. Granted, some in the main areas do try pretty hard, but they are sweet too and not in the majority.
So, if you ever have contemplated an inner wish to set off independently and develop your traveling skills so that you don´t have to truck about with dozens of others and get up at gosh-awful hours in the morning, just to make your tour bus; then, this belly button of the world is just the place for you!