Sunday, November 4, 2012

Arrival in Inca Capital, Cusco

After an incredible week exploring northern and southern California, I flew out of Los Angeles en route to Lima, Peru. Bright and early, Jo kindly drove Cara and I to the airport. Here I am, pretty tired due to 3 hours of sleep but all packed and ready to go for the next 9 months!

Turns out, arriving about 3 hours before my 7:35 flight Friday morning was plenty early. In fact, I learned that gates for Avianca do not even open until 5:00am. (I will be checking this next time I have an early flight.) However, besides waiting a half hour for employees to show up and check my bag, Cara and I cruised through security, basically without stopping and ended up waiting in our respective terminals, passing the next 2 hours with a combination of people watching and reading. I have flown in and out of LAX a handful of times but there are always heaps of people and nearly a guaranteed line at security. Nonetheless, I was very thankful for how easy getting to my gate was. It was a great way to start our journey to South America.

The best part of people watching in LAX was the 13 abuelitas (little grandmas) in wheel chairs lined up to board the plane first. I discreetly tried to take a picture but couldn't quite get them all in the shot. They were so adorable.

Before I knew it, we lifted off and were en route headed south to Lima making a stop in San Salvador, El Salvador for my 6 hour layover.

The only notable event that happened on the first leg of my flight occurred after the initial internal debacle of having the window seat and needing to wake up the sleeping latina women in the middle and isle seats next to me. Once my physiological needs conquered my social passiveness, I was standing in a long line at the back of the plane for the restroom. There were more of us waiting in line than you could count on one hand. A fairly large latina women was a few people behind me and started raising her voice toward the flight attendants regarding the long line for the restroom and was very upset about why both the front and back restrooms could not be used. Obviously, this was not the fault of the flight attendants, who told her that since 9/11, standing lines are no longer allowed at the front of the planes. This was partially the cause for the jam in the back of the plane for the loo, not to mention we were closing in on the last hour of the flight after 2 beverage services. Soon after watching those big red lips spew Spanish with such determination, I was at the front of the line. A little patience and understanding would have done her wonders, but I can appreciate her passion. 

As the 4 hour flight came to an end, I got my first glimpse ever of El Salvador. It's the smallest Central American country in square miles. One day I will see more than the coastline and inside of the airport.

A quarter of a day had finally passed, which meant, next stop, Lima!  Just over 4 hours later, we arrived in Peru's capital at 1:00 in the morning. Since my flight and Cara's flight landed only minutes apart, we arranged a taxi together through Backpackers Family House, where we stayed at in Miraflores for the night.  

After catching some zzz's into mid morning, we made a quick run to the bank to get some Peruvian Nuevo Soles (local currency) and then the grocery store for some snacks before catching an afternoon bus from Lima to Cusco. We chose the very reputable and consequently more expensive, Cruz del Sur busline because it is a 21 hour ride, and well frankly we wanted to be comfortable and safe. (Dad-approved.)

Easily the longest bus ride I have ever taken, I was not a fan. The first 15 hours or so weren't bad but that last third of the ride seemed to drag on forever. We had the front pair of seats which meant we had ample leg room and our seats reclined nearly 180 degrees, but 21 hours is just a very long time.  I may try to stick to 15 hour max bus options around South America from here on out.

Finally, we arrived in the historical Inca capital - Cusco! We met up with friends from college at Pariwana Hostel, just off San Francisco Plaza and a few blocks from the main square, Plaza de Armas. It felt so awesome to be off the bus, breathing fresh air and ultimately back in a city I love, Cusco. To celebrate, Joe and I ate at Jak's Cafe and after over 24 hours without a proper meal, a grilled chicken and tomato sandwich never tasted so good.

At this point, I would like to solicit any advice for surviving long bus rides as I will have plenty next year and would appreciate any tips!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry it took me so long to read this! I love hearing about your travels! The abuelitos were adorable! I'm so glad you and Cara get to go on this adventure together, and are still having ample time to be independent! Go you!


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