Cusco – Braids, Ponchos & Pan Flutes

485839_10100716127557011_1125210675_nWhile exploring the cobblestone streets of Cusco, I observed so many artists selling woolen and alpaca goods, jewelry and artwork. Every shop I entered had stacks and stacks of colourful and wonderfully soft hats, sweaters, and scarves. I saw and heard lots of Peruvian dancing and music that was entertaining to watch. The locals are really nice considering I didn’t know much Spanish at all. Everyone is so short and it made me feel like a giant. The doors of many shops seemed like half-sized doors to me. I absolutely felt like a giant in a dollhouse! 

Many women wear wide brimmed hats, skirts, rainbow knit wraps and ponchos, complete with two long braids down their back tied together at the ends. At the San Pedro market, I tried a kiwi-orange smoothie. It came out brown because of the green and orange, but it was very zingy and refreshing nonetheless. I also experimented by eating alpaca bruschetta. It was pretty salty, but tasty. The favourite meal I consumed was called the “Peruvian Favourite”: chicken and rice with yellow peppy dijon sauce, walnuts, black olives, and a bit of hard-boiled egg on top. Delicious! A few people ordered the guinea pig, or “Cuy.” I tried a teeny tiny piece! It simply tasted like chicken – no surprise there. As I had several guinea pigs growing up, a teeny tiny piece was the most I could consume.  Speaking of guinea pigs, while I was eating dinner I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and who should I see but a giant guinea pig asking to dance with me! It was so huge and round I could barely get my arms around its belly and we danced awkwardly together.  I couldn’t stop laughing and I could hear the guy laughing behind the costume as well.

My Peruvian tour guide is Gaby. She is heart, blood and soul from Cusco. She and her family grew up in the mountains which they still call home. I also met up with another group of travelers who had been in Peru for a week already. A bunch of them were pretty sick or just on the mend from being sick. I discovered this when I started talking to Ashley (a fellow Canadian from Alberta) and she informed me how some people became immediately sick within a few days of arriving in Peru. Hoping to take preventative measures for myself, I asked if she knew how or why they have been getting so sick. She proceeded to give me a multitude of explanations, such as altitude sickness, food, water . . .

“I drank large amounts of water from the sink in my hotel,” I said.

Ashley gapes at me and gives me a “How could you be so STUPID” look. I explained how dehydrated I was after the flights and also sleep deprived, so I didn’t put much thought into it at the time. I shrugged it off like it didn’t matter because I had been feeling just fine.

“Oh no,” she said horrified. “It’s turning into a virus as we speak.”

“Isn’t it more likely that it would be a bacterial bug if it came from the water, in which case I would have been sick already?”

“NO. You need to go to a doctor. Like NOW.”

As our walking tour of Cusco was currently in motion, I wasn’t able to go to a pharmacy or anything so I basically was terrified thinking I was going to keel over at any moment and die.

But I didn’t.

I never got sick once during my whole South American trip. (I still went and bought horse sized vitamins that I’d gag on every morning, though).

During my time in Cusco it was freezing in the morning and freezing at night but pretty warm and sunny during the day. I had to buy an alpaca sweater, scarf, and some alpaca socks which are amazingly warm. Each night I curled up in bed with my soft socks and scarf on. I also wheeled the radiator as close as it could get to my bedside.

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