Cusco Tourist Day & Departure for Home
June 25, 2011
After more than ten days out in the field, it felt good to sleep late at an elevation of 12k and not have to get up and climb to 18k or hike more than ten miles by lunch time. We did the continental breakfast at the hotel and then I accompanied G and Bob on a walk about through town and trinket shopping extravaganza.
We wandered up streets, down streets and into shops, looking at the various wares and then I found what I really wanted, a gellato joint. I had food on the mind and nothing fit the bill like ice cream. of course ice cream is on of those foods that can get you into South American gastrointestinal distress but it looked good . . . and it was good! Post gelatto and hot chocolate, G ended up with a weaving for his house and in the process covered the needs of his work crew. Bob got his shopping done and then we were off to lunch at a pizza joint just off the main square. I'm not a big pizza fan but it was good and everyone had their fill.
The post lunch plan called for a walk around some of the further corners of the colonial area, where we hoped to find a bar that could cover our need to hear some live pan flute Andean music . . . we struck out. All in all, we pretty much took in all of what there was to see of walking Cusco from the various Inca stone walls to the Plaza de Armas to a last night's serving of Lomo and Cusquena. We were pretty much ready to head for home, having accomplished all but one goal of the trip . . .
June 26, 2011
Following breakfast on departure day, we had the chore of packing the gear for the flight home. I was pleased to see that my duffle had one of the straps torn most of the way off and that the tear went all the way through the bag. Just great . . . the last thing I needed was some baggage handler grabbing it just right and dumping my gear on the tarmac. However, all was not lost as I carry a curved needle and spool of heavy waxed thread in my miscellaneous gear bag so I had about one half hour's sewing to do in order to laminate two layers of duct tape, one layer of bag and one web strap into a bomber repair. While I was at it,I took care of a few other tears and was set to go. G and Bob packed their bags and after about an hour, we were good to go, duffle wise, to the airport.
Body wise, G and I wanted a massage. G and I had gotten a rub (less the tug) in La Paz after hiking the southern half of the Apolobamba in Bolivia in 2007 and it was great. We'd been on the ground for many nights and I was feeling a bit beat up . . . G had the same thoughts. A massage would sure make the flight home less miserable if we put aside the aches and pains of the trail . . . Bob wasn't so sure about this plan, given that we had perhaps embellished the whole process a bit more than perhaps was the case. Given that Cusco is crawling with touts handing out cards for massages, Bob had reason to be a bit worried. However, we were interested in the real thing rather than gosh knows what lies at the end of a tout's come on. Lisa, the manager at the hotel, connected us with a legit spa and we were on the books for 10:00 a.m. . . all three at once.
Lisa was well connected and given that everyone got a massage in the same room at once, Bob only had to keep one eye open and could relax the other one. Needless to say, if you are facing a multiple hour layover in Lima and all the hassles of getting on a plane in Cusco, coming into the experience in a relaxed state is beneficial. We walked out of the place in a semi molten state.
Next, a final good lunch complete with the real Inca Cola and not the New Jersey stuff you get in the States. The Pachapapa fit the bill and with a good feed complete, we were ready to face the airport. John arrived exactly on time and had us at the drop off fifteen minutes later. The airport was not quite the madhouse I expected given the conclusion of the town festival and we had our luggage checked in no time. From there we had only to wait an hour before we were on our short flight to Lima. The flight out was a bit different than the arrival as the plane takes a straight out departure track and takes a few minutes before it climbs out of the valley and turns to head for Lima, An hour later we were delivered to the terminal in Lima where we had to claim our bags and check them in with American, our carrier to the States.
We had a five hour layover and American does not start checking bags until three hours before departure. If you can stick with LAN, do so, they are open for business all day and not just the hours before their one flight's departure. Actually, it makes sense as American seems to use its flight crew as gate help and with a limited number of hands and flights into Lima, it does make sense. The key is to stake out the check in area and when you see American staff starting to get ready, hop in line and save yourself from being at the end of a line that does take a while to get through. Everyone gets through but standing for two hours is certainly no fun if you could otherwise sit in a cafe for one and one half of those hours while everyone else waits in line.
We ate dinner in the terminal and then boarded our flight home. American delivered us to Miami at the break of dawn and successfully got us to Denver via Dallas by the early afternoon of the following day. We arrived in Denver, having gotten a bit of sleep here and there and were soon northbound on I-25, headed home.
Conclusions, Thoughts and Impressions