December 7th and 8th, 2011
As I headed up into the mountains things didn’t quite go as planned. I think I had a bad choco and got very sick on the way to Cusco, and I stopped for several days in the city of Abancay to recover.
In Abancay I found a new hotel, still under construction, where the friendly owner took pity on my condition and fed me bland food and tea while I got better.
This was as I was leaving in the morning, and she didn’t appreciate the timing. It was a nice hotel, too, though it was off the main drag (not that Abancay has much of a main drag)
The hotel’s restaurant actually has two rooms, but she emptied out one so I could put the bike there. Her help, who I didn’t get a picture of, is a member of the indigenous (non-spanish speaking) peoples, who often wander into the larger cities looking for work and are frequently exploited (Lonely Planet mentions girls as young as 12 knocking on hotel room doors). She is hoping to send him to school to improve his Spanish (He speaks some, reads and writes little), pays him a fair wage, and is thinking about getting him a motorcycle for Christmas (which is a major purchase here – like buying a car).
I took very few (none, basically) pictures of the ride from Nazca to Abancay, at least much after lunch.
Cerro Blanco, the largest sand dune in the world at over 5000 feet. It was larger than most of the mountains in the area.
After Abancay, when I was feeling much better, I enjoyed the ride to Cusco. The road, after going over a mountain,
the road along the river was pleasant to ride, though it was only occasionally paved.
I reached Cusco in the early afternoon, and after a few hotels I found the Casa Grande, which is apparently where all the cool people hang out.
Since I wasn’t completely better I decided to take the rest of the day off, and spend the next day looking around Cusco and arranging the trip to Machu Picchu.
I slept in, something I am always a fan of, then went for a walk around town.
That statue is actually someone dressed up. You can put money in his cup for pictures.
It was a holiday, although really it seems like it is always a holiday around here, and there were groups of people carrying statues from churches and throw flower pedals at them. Oh, and people dressed up as puppets.
There was a lot of history around too, including several surviving Incan walls.
The wall on the left is from the palace of the last Incan king, and the one on the right is from the Temple of Virgins (dedicated to the sun god). Ironically the temple was converted to a convent after the Spanish took over.
After looking around at more of the architecture
An actual street, not just pretty arches.
After lunch I spent the rest of the day arranging my train ride, bus ride and taxi ride for the next day. I couldn’t get an actual ticket into Machu Picchu because of the holiday, but despite the daily cap on tickets sold Friday had a lot left (there is a website you can check the number of tickets sold for any given day – how cool is that?) so I wasn’t worried.
Since I would have to get up a just a bit before 5am, I had a early dinner and hit the sack.