Raining guinea pigs & llamas

Today was a typical day of shenanigans.

First, we went by Q’ente to meet our tour guide for the five-day hike towards Machu Picchu. I think he was mildly alarmed at how ill-prepared we were for the hike.

Pretty doorway on our way to the panaderia

Then, we went to a nearby panaderia in the San Blas neighborhood run by monks (or maybe nuns baked the bread, I forget exactly) to stuff our faces with empanadas and pastries.

Next up, we went by Hotel Marqueses to confirm our reservation. Of course, they messed it up, so the next several hours were spent walking all over Cusco, looking for another hotel for when we return from the hike. We literally just walked around from one hotel to another, asking for availability, rates and to see a sample room. At one point it started raining cats and dogs — or guinea pigs and llamas — so Daniela abandoned the search while we continued on. At least we got to see a lot of the city since we pretty much walked from one end to the other. And in the end we found a decent hotel that gave us a good discount. But I was truly devastated that things didn’t work out with Hotel Marqueses, because it looked like such a beautiful hotel!

The view of Cusco from a random hotel where we tried to get a room, but of course they didn't have anything available!

After walking around Cusco for hours, Ben had the brilliant idea to precede our five-day hike with a hike up to see the Big White Jesus statue overlooking the city. And for some reason, I agreed to go even though I was wearing a skirt and my brown boots – hardly appropriate hiking apparel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the very top because 90% of the way up, the stone steps turn into a narrow, steep dirt path. It was just not gonna happen. So close, yet so far away. So Ben and Adrian continued without me — but with the random dog that accompanied us literally the entire way and back.

The boys and their guide dog
A llama we saw in the mountains during our mini-hike

Speaking of dogs, I feel like all the dogs in Cusco (Peru?) are “stray” dogs…maybe not stray, but street dogs I guess. I can’t decide if it’s sad or good that they roam around on their own. They’re kind of on their own, but then again they have all the freedom to go where they want and probably know the city and nearby mountains pretty well. Plus, they have each other to hang out with. So who knows which lifestyle a dog prefers. And yes, I just wrote all that philosophizing about the lives of dogs.

At the Plaza de Armas

Anyways… after our mini-hike we grabbed dinner at the Plaza de Armas. I had Aji de Gallina, which is chicken in a yellow cheesy sauce and is apparently a traditional Peruvian dish. It was really good, but let me warn you…do not eat this unless you are near a bathroom! (TMI?)

Another shot of Plaza de Armas

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