Peru: Day 10
3:30 am! The room started buzzing with alarms and lights were flicked on. Yay. We were out of the room by about 3:45 am. We walked across the indoor bridge directly into the airport from our hotel. We didn’t have any bags to check, so we walked straight to security. We passed with flying colors because we’re experts by now. So secure. We made our way to breakfast. We all opted to get to this breakfast that included eggs, waffle, juice, coffee, and a bread basket. It was way too much for most of us, but it was amazing to eat good bread. They even included a croissant that was fantastic!
After we ate, we hung out at the gate a short while until we were able to board the plane. This went fairly smoothly, and we only took off about 20 minutes late again. Peru time, I guess. We touched land again in Panama. It was incredibly hot though luckily this time we didn’t have to sprint across the airport. We even had enough time to get lunch! We went to Margaritaville because Mandy and Jenny were dead set on nachos. Shaun and I got margaritas because when in Rome… After lunch, we made our way to the gate to await boarding. We were greeted with a surprise security checkpoint. No one really understood why, other than the USA was forcing it on Panama, according to what one employee told Mandy. We had to do shoes and belts, empty our bags, the whole nine. Mandy and Jenny were forced to throw away or chug the waters they’d just purchased inside the airport, so that was a waste of money. The employees seemed to hate it just as much as all the passengers, too. So it was overall an enjoyable experience. We got through just in time to begin boarding with our group. Our plane backed away from the gate at takeoff time and we got in line behind about 8 other crafts for takeoff. Our 12:33 pm flight took off at 12:51 pm. Pretty good, compared to the rest of the flights. We laughed at the fact that we hadn't had one problem-free flight on the entire trip. The rest of this final leg was uneventful, thankfully. We actually arrived early to Boston by about 10 minutes! We breezed through customs and out to ground transport since none of us checked any bags. We were on the road with our Uber within minutes. We got a ride to Revere, where Shaun and Jenny's vehicle had been parked. They gave us a ride home and by 8:30 pm we were back in Ipswich.
We don't have many pictures from this day as it was mostly planes, so enjoy these random photos from throughout our trip!
Peru: Day 9
We woke up at about 5:00 am. We had nothing to do until breakfast which started at 7:00 am, so we watched a couple more shows on Netflix. We went to breakfast at exactly 7 o’clock. I was finally ready to eat all of the foods. I was feeling so much better. I think the altitude sickness had passed. I had a banana for breakfast today along with a granola bar. Rob had three rounds of flat, gross bread with butter and jam, fresh papaya, a banana, three rounds of coffee with chocolate, and jugo de platano (banana juice). Apparently he was feeling better. We all followed breakfast with coca tea. After breakfast, we visited Shaun and Jenny’s room for a shower today because they actually had hot water whereas our room did not. We packed our bags for the airport and decided to explore local shops until checkout time.
We made our way to a nearby shop that looked somewhat open. The doors were open but all of the products were covered with tarps. The women at the shop quickly welcomed us in and started to display their products for sale. We picked up a few souvenirs. While we were paying we noticed that there was a baby in the corner on the shelf all wrapped up in colorful fabrics. One of the women told us that it was her baby. Interesting!
We left the shop and headed slowly back to the hostel. We decided to enjoy another round of coca teas and work on the blog. We really had no plans for the day. And we were all ready to get away from the high altitude. So, around 10:00 am, we checked out and had the hostess call us a taxi to the airport. Our flight wasn’t until 8:14 pm but we thought maybe we could switch to an earlier flight and the airline website said that this had to be requested in person at the airport sales office. The driving in Cusco is ridiculous. We definitely would not recommend renting a car when visiting here. But we made it to the airport safely and asked about switching to an earlier flight. The customer service representative said that they could not do that in person and that we had to call the customer service line. Thankfully, he let us use his phone as mine was not working. I later realized I had put the numbers in incorrectly. Oh well. When I called, I was told that there were no earlier flights. But we had seen some on Google flights available for booking! I was told that it was not possible. Our flight was the only remaining one that day with this airline.
So now what? It was about 10:30 am. We decided to hit the road. There was a shop with a Sky airlines sign in the window right across from the airport. We decided to try switching flights there. We walked in and it soon appeared to be a travel agent rather than the airline sales office. He offered to help us and called the airline. We got the same response. There were no available flights for the 4 of us prior to the 8:14 pm flight that we already had. Jenny and Shaun didn’t want to carry their bags around so they paid the travel agent to keep them until 4:00 pm. Rob and I opted to carry ours with us.
Right next door to the travel agent was a restaurant. We decided to stop there for coffee. Rob also ordered lomo saltado. We got our coffees and it was delicious. It was served pasado style, which is really densely-brewed coffee served in a carafe, and then poured into a mug of hot water. You can make the coffee as strong as you like by adding more to the mug. You can add milk if you choose. In Peru, most “milk” is actually Gloria, which is a brand of evaporated milk. It has a slight sweetness to it, which goes perfectly with the coffee and eliminates any need to add sugar.
We continued down the road in search of coffee beans to take home. We moseyed, popping into convenience stores along the way. There are hundreds of them, but they all sell the same items. And none of them sell coffee. We started to get hungry along our walk so we looked for tasty restaurants, too. We eventually came across Del Corral. They unfortunately didn’t have available a lot of our top picks from their menu, but I settled on bistek a lo pobre, and Mandy was content to steal some french fries. Bistek a lo pobre is literally “steak to the poor,” or, more accurately “poor man’s steak,” and is a thin cut of grilled beef served with white rice, a fried egg, french fries, and fried banana slices. The steak was slightly tough, but the flavor was good and all of the sides were delicious. The french fries here might have been the best we had.
After lunch, Jenny tried to take us to Pastelleria Dulce Mia. “It has great reviews on Trip Advisor,” she said. It was about 7 minutes driving. It didn’t look too far for walking but there wasn’t a direct route. So we opted for an Uber. The Uber driver arrived shortly. He didn’t seem to know where he was going and his phone kept losing reception. So we took an adventurous route to get to our “destination.” We arrived about 25 minutes later and were more than happy to exit the vehicle. The driver said something “es muy peligroso” but there was too much going on, I didn’t understand what he said. As he drove away, there was no pastelleria to be seen. We asked at another local shop and they didn’t seem to know of it. It seems like the pastelleria does not exist. A little out of our comfort zone, we decided to start walking back towards the main road as quickly as we could. We navigated through a bunch of neighborhoods and back alleys. Nothing was connected as we expected it would be, and the most direct route was hardly that. Eventually, we made it to the main street which we knew would take us to the airport. We had found no coffee beans, no cake, and no coffee. So that was a bust. We walked along the road towards the airport in search of coffee beans and cake for Jenny, with a side-quest of pisco sours. We found none of the above, until a gas station had ground coffee for sale.
Mostly defeated, we continued back to the airport. We figured we’d check in and get through security and burn off the rest of our time in Cusco at the gate. At the airport, we hopped in line to check in and get our boarding passes. The line didn’t move for about 45 minutes. The same people were being helped at the two open counters the entire time. Eventually, we decided since we were so early, it would be best to wait until the line died down and check in later. We found a comfy spot to sit and wait a while, and periodically checked in on the status of the line. Around 4:45 pm it was empty, so we headed down. We were told that we would be unable to check in until 6:00 pm. I was content to wait in front of the counter while everyone else went to get food. The desk attendant put a “Closed” sign up. Numerous people asked to pass me to ask a question, still more completely ignored me and just approached the desk. For being off-duty, the woman was quite busy helping passengers. At about 5:30 pm, she was checking in a family of three who had completely skipped over the line that had now formed behind me. When she called me forward, she explained that she had only checked them in because they had been waiting since 2 o’clock. But then she asked for my reservation and passport to print my boarding pass anyways, so I don’t really understand the guilt trip. We got through security seamlessly, and checked out the shops in the airport. There was one that sold coffee beans, and a bunch of other interesting things, but it was the only shop that was closed. So that was a bust. We sat around a while entertaining ourselves until they finally began boarding. For four flights. Within 15 minutes of each other. To the same destination. Weird, but okay. Boarding was separated into two sections, rows 1-15 and rows 16-whatever. We were all in rows 1 and 2, so we got in the appropriate line. Of course the opposite line was the only one moving, but we waited a while. Then we began to notice people’s boarding passes for rows that were less than 16 going through the wrong line. So we switched lines. Shaun and Mandy got through no problem. When I presented my boarding pass, the man tried to scan it. He gave up with hardly any effort, threw the ticket on the floor and told me I had to wait because my row was not boarding at this time. “Ella es mi esposa.” Not his problem, I guess. He began accepting passengers from the line we were originally in. I jumped into the other line anyways because the entire thing was a charlie foxtrot and eventually made my way to my seat. Our 8:14 pm flight took off at 8:35. Close enough. Get us out of here.
We made it to Lima with no issues. Flying in, we were reminded again how smoggy Lima is. It’s like a constant haze hangs over the whole city. Our initial itinerary had us returning to Tupac Hostel. However, on our first stop there, we realized how far away from the airport it actually is. It wasn’t an awful ride, only about 15 minutes by taxi, but we only had from about 9:00 pm until 3:30 am to sleep. We wanted to get as much sleep as possible for our final travel day home, so we opted to change our accommodations to the Wyndham Costa del Sol just outside of the Lima airport. We were able to get off the plane and walk there in about 5 minutes, which was great. We checked in and were given 4 free drink vouchers for their bar. Mandy and Jenny wanted to take a shower, and Shaun and I wanted to use the opportunity for our last chance at authentic pisco sours. We dropped our bags in the room and took the drink vouchers downstairs. We each got a double and downed them. They were quite good. We watched some 80s American pop music videos on TV, and wondered aloud why that’s always a thing whenever we travel abroad. Do foreign countries play that music because they think Americans like it? Are they catering to us? Do they still genuinely enjoy it? Are they trying to force a resurgence of 80s pop? The world will never know. We were back in the room before Mandy even finished showering. We all passed out as quickly as we could.
Peru: Day 6
Jenny and I took turns in the bathroom all night. Alternating between vomiting and diarrhea. After we had vomited a few times each, the boys were getting concerned that we were becoming dehydrated. They wanted to get us out of the jungle and into the town to a medical center before we wouldn’t be able to make it. The boys went to speak with the hosts. It seemed that one lady was already on the phone with the medical center as she had heard us violently vomiting. Jenny and I did not want to go anywhere, but we got overruled. A medical train was on the way to come get us and bring us into town.
Eventually. After about an hour and a half, Edwin (one of the lodge hosts) came to our door to notify us the train would arrive in about 5 minutes. We walked the hundred feet or so to the tracks and waited with our flashlights so we could be seen. We were thankful we didn’t have to walk down the tracks because the darkness was nearly absolute and the jungle on both sides is incredibly dense. It would have been a scary walk. Instead, it was a scary ride. The train was a single engine, hardly bigger than a full-size pickup. There was a driver and his assistant, a police officer, and two medical professionals already on the train when it arrived. And they let all four of us on as well. The girls had actual seats while Shaun and I sat on the hood with our legs hanging out the side of the car. The driver got the train rolling and then I noticed the engine tone was changing. I looked towards the driver and noticed that he was shifting a transmission. We’ve never seen a manually-shifted train before, so that was interesting. We got up to a speed that was probably not quite safe. It constantly felt like we were about to hop off the rails. 9 of us sped off into the night and made record time to Aguas Calientes, the closest actual town.
We disembarked the train around 2:15 am. We had a short hike up the town with our police escort to the medical center. The girls were taken into examination rooms and given a workup. It was determined they had food poisoning and they were treated with a smorgasbord of drugs and fluids. We had suspected food poisoning since early on, but it didn’t make sense because we’d all eaten all of the same foods. Oh well, we were much happier to have it confirmed and proper treatment administered, than stuck in the middle of the jungle just waiting it out. Shaun and I each had a tiny couch to "relax" on. The doctor asked what our plans were, as a group, and we explained that we were headed to Machu Picchu. He said it’s no problem, we can sleep a few hours and then go. Yeah, okay. The girls were given a mystery drug, we suspect was Benadryl, to knock them out. Shaun slept about one hour. I had slept about 1 hour earlier from 8 to 9. Each time after that I was about to fall asleep, someone began being sick again, which woke me up.
As six o’clock rolled around, we had to decide whether we were going to Machu Picchu or not. The entry time to the park is tightly controlled, and our tickets were for an 8:00 am entry, with a decent hike to get to the gate. Mandy said if I didn’t go she wouldn’t be mad, she’d just be disappointed. So at 6:00 am, with one hour of sleep and infirm wives under iffy medical supervision, Shaun and I set out on our hike. We didn’t really know which way to go, but figured following the parade of tourist buses was a likely plan. We grabbed a coffee at a little roadside shop for breakfast and continued walking down the dirt road. We arrived to the gate to the park about 20 minutes later. Shaun was held up because the passport number on his entry ticket didn’t match the number of his new passport. We had to explain in crappy Spanish that he had to get a new passport because his previous one wasn’t yet expired. He was not convinced. Shaun presented a Massachusetts driver’s license, which seemed to appease the guard, and he finally allowed us in.
We started actually hiking almost immediately. After we crossed the bridge over the Urubamba River, the trail went straight up. During our planning, which was mostly handled by Mandy and Jenny, we learned that this hike was supposed to take about an hour and a half. At the top, there’s another gate to the park. We had to enter this second gate between 8:00 and 9:00 am. We had just about the right amount of time to get there, since we were starting at about 6:30 am. We arrived to the second gate about 45 minutes later, soaking wet with sweat. It was difficult, but we were hustling regardless. But then we had to wait to get in.
We looked for a tour guide, which we had learned during the planning stage is a requirement to get into the park. You can’t just walk around on your own there. We met Gloria, a guide who spoke English. She seemed quite friendly, and funny too. We were still too early to get in, so we relaxed a bit at the gate until 8:00. She showed us on the map where we’d go, and explained to us how we’d get to hike Machu Picchu mountain as well. See, there’s the ruins, which we’d already hiked up to, but hadn't passed the gate to explore, but they’re on a ridge between two peaks, Huayna and Machu Picchu. You don’t have to hike either of them, but we wanted to, so we’d purchased tickets to hike during our planning, months ago. We didn’t really want to anymore, because of the lack of sleep, but we kind of felt obligated. Mandy would be disappointed. Not really! I told them they just had to get to the citadel but not to hike to the summit of Machu Picchu if it was too much.
Gloria walked us all around the ruins, and taught us a ton of history. We tried to absorb as much of it as we could, but we were so busy observing the incredible architecture, we probably lost a lot of the information she gave us. The biggest takeaway for us was that the park is far larger than either of us had realized before being there. And their masonry skills were incredibly advanced. We learned that it wasn’t a city so much as just a scientific and agricultural experiment. It was built primarily for scientists to study the sky and farmers to play around with different types of crops. After about an hour long tour around the ruins, she said it was her time to leave us. She showed us the way to the start of the hike up Machu Picchu mountain. Shaun got video footage of some of the tour - it will be posted in the future and can be accessed at People Walking Places on YouTube via this link here. We had to pass through a third gate, and sign into a logbook of hikers. We signed in at 9:45 am. The sign on the hut said the hike would take about 4 hours round trip.
The hike started off mildly, for about 5 minutes. From there it varied between difficult and aggressive. There were views almost the entire way because we were, in essence, climbing a stone ladder up a cliff face. We couldn’t see where we were headed because the entire summit was shrouded in clouds. The “staircase” was about 3 feet wide most of the way, with nothing to prevent you from falling hundreds of feet down the cliff. After an hour and twenty minutes of grueling climbing, we reached the top. We feasted on gummy candies and a rack of Oreo cookies while we chatted with some other climbers. Everyone seemed to get a kick out of how much we hated the hike. As a bonus, though, the views were awful, too. It was just grey in every direction because we were literally inside a cloud. After about 20 minutes at the top, we started to head back down. We turned back one last time before we began the descent, and noticed that the clouds had suddenly cleared. So, we took a few pictures, and then literally ran down the mountain. We got back to the sign-in hut to sign out after 2 hours and 14 minutes. Just before noon.
Meanwhile, back in Aguas Calientes, I had said goodbye to the boys around 6:00 am. Jenny was in a separate room. So I decided to get some more shuteye. I slept for maybe another hour and the doctor reappeared with a couple nurses. They took my temperature and vital signs. This was the first time they had checked my temperature. They told me the result in Celsius but I’m not very good at Spanish numbers so I have no idea what it was. But, they said I had a fever. They were giving me something IV. One gram. I’m assuming acetaminophen. The doctor told me that I needed another dose of antibiotic at 8:00 am and then I could leave at 10:00 am. I laid back and rested some more. Jenny eventually made her way over to visit me with her IV in tow. We were both still feeling a little under the weather but overall much better. Around 8:00 am the nurse came in with our second dose of metronidazole. She said we finish this and then we leave.
It’s interesting to see the differences in the clinic versus the medical field in USA. There were no IV pumps in Peru. So the nurses had to count the drops to determine the infusion time. Around 10:00 am the nurse came in. She really did not speak any English so communication was difficult. We think that she was trying to tell us to stay in town and come back at 2:00 pm for another dose of antibiotics. We really just wanted to leave so we said no. We were staying at the same place where they picked us up. So they took out my IV. They started to remove Jenny’s, but then told her that they were going to leave the port in so that she could administer her afternoon antibiotic. Again we said no, and asked for pills. She said, “Esta bien,” then finally removed Jenny’s IV. The nurse said that she was going to go to the pharmacy to get our medications for us and would be back in ten minutes. The male nurse started to get the credit card machine ready for us. The first nurse came back and provided us with handwritten instructions for medications and the medications themselves. We finally paid the people and left the clinic around 10:30 am. The total for the midnight train ride with police escort, all the medical care, drugs, and about 8 hours stay in the medical center was US$520 each.
We made our way through the town and stopped at a market for some snacks. We didn’t really want to eat at Gea Lodge again. In general, we weren’t that hungry but we figured we should have something with us that wouldn’t be too harsh on our stomachs. We opted for some granola bars, oranges, and yucca chips. We were fully prepared to walk back to the lodge now. Along the way we realized we had cell phone service, so we texted Rob and Shaun that we were alive and heading back. It took us about an hour walking along the train tracks and sprinting through the train tunnels to reach our destination. Once we made it back we laid down and immediately fell asleep.
We continued to run down the mountain all the way back to Aguas Calientes because we were dying for a pisco sour. It started to rain slightly, and we learned that thunder is really intense when you’re literally inside the cloud. The after-hike drink and fear of disappointing Mandy were really the only things motivating us since 6:00 am. We talked about the fact that the rain was making everything slippery and that we should probably take it slow. We opted to continue running. At 1:00 pm, off the mountain and back in Aguas Calientes, we saw a sign at Las Rocas Sagradas for 3-for-1 pisco sour drinks for S/20, which is about $6US. We didn’t even have to give it any thought, this is where we needed to be. We sat in the furthest corner of the restaurant away from everyone because we were saturated with sweat and we smelled fierce. We got three piscos each and they were amazing. While we were drinking and cooling off, we calculated that we’d hiked about 12 miles and a little over 3,000 feet of elevation in 6 hours. Not bad! We got a food menu, but the prices were rather steep, and they only accepted cash. So after we finished our drinks, we cashed out. We walked further into Aguas Calientes until we found a restaurant that accepted a card. We had some cash, but not a lot, so credit card acceptance was the main consideration. By this point we were pretty exhausted from sleep deprivation and exertion, starving, and pretty buzzed. We were dead set on chicharron de cerdo, so we ordered a plate each and another drink. When our waiter returned a few minutes later to notify us they didn’t have the pork available, we decided to leave. As we were walking out, he arrived carrying our drinks. We weren’t in any state to refuse a nice cold drink, so we sat back down to enjoy them as we requested the check. So four drinks in, we made our way back down to the street in search of chicharrones. We made it one door down to Hot Springs 2 restaurant. We sat on the balcony overlooking main street and ordered another round of drinks and chicharrones de cerdo. The pisco sours were a little odd tasting but we weren’t in a state to care about that. The pork was incredibly good, and more than made up for it. By this time, we’d been able to send and receive a few texts with the girls, and learned that they’d simply walked back to Los Jardines de Mandor from the medical center, so we decided to do the same. It was only about 4km. Yay, more hiking! At least it was flat and we were buzzed. It really wasn’t that bad. We laughed pretty much the whole way and were generally just being ridiculous.
Back at the lodge I had slept from about 12:00-2:00. At some point the host knocked on the door and asked if we needed anything and how we were feeling. I woke Jenny up a little after 2:00 to take her antibiotics. It was at this point in time that I realized the directions from the clinic had switched the metronidazole and ciprofloxacin schedule. It helps to have some medical knowledge, especially in a foreign country. Jenny slept some more and I sat outside to work on the blog while drinking my electroral. Jenny joined me around 3:00 after she had slept a little bit more. We sat and chatted outside while awaiting for Rob and Shaun to get back from town. They had told us they were going to stop there for food on their way back.
The girls were sitting on the porch and heard us coming several minutes before we arrived. We were happy to see them keeping drinks down and generally being not-dead. We caught up on their day and told them all about our high-speed hike. We all relaxed on the porch a while. After a shower and eating some snacks, I started to feel somewhat normal. I accompanied Shaun to the restaurant across the train tracks but decided I didn’t want to eat anything. Afterwards, we returned to the room and I promptly passed out as soon as my head touched the pillow. In the middle of the night I awoke to some very intense rain. At the time, I didn’t think much of it.
Peru: Day 4
We woke up bright and early around 5am. I wandered to the window to look out at the view. It never disappoints. This morning was clear and we could see the snow-capped peak in the distance that had been hidden in the clouds the days before. We later learned this is Salkantay Peak and it is always covered in snow. We started our day as usual, catching you all up on the blog. Yerson brought us in two pots of fresh coffee this morning. This is probably because we requested an extra pot the first day. He also brought us two pitchers of fresh jugo de pina. We also received a basket of bread and butter and jam. We later realized that that was all we were getting for breakfast this morning. But Madre came in and offered fried eggs, probably because we were all still sitting there. So we quickly said “Si, por favor!” The eggs were delicious.
Yerson came back and offered to take us on a different waterfall hike today. We agreed and set off shortly after breakfast. The hike was again beautiful. Pretty much everything in Peru has been indescribable, but we’re trying. Yerson again pointed out new plants and flowers along the way. We walked up a path on the hillside that lead to more houses. It reminded us of the trail to Karsten’s house in Guatemala. We finally reached the waterfall and snapped a few photos. We even got a photo with Yerson! Rob took a dip, of course. Once we were all rested and relaxed we made our way back towards the hacienda.
At the hacienda, we asked for the total of what we owe so far. The host family does not take credit cards, so we wanted to make sure we had enough cash for them. They gave us the total and we were relieved that we would have enough cash but also wanted to find an ATM anyway. Madre took our dinner orders and said that she would have it ready at 7pm. We set off towards Santa Teresa on our own. We were now pros at crossing the river via cable car. The sun was out in full force today but the weather prediction only rated the UV index as a 10. We all agreed that it felt like an 11. We climbed the steep staircase into town and went straight for the two locations that offer cash back services. They were both closed the day prior when we had been in town. The first stop was still closed. So we made our way to the other location that had a sign outside that read “Get Cash Here!” They were open and we were in luck! Jenny used her Visa to get some more Peruvian soles.
After we successfully found cash we made our way to the town center for lunch. I got chicharron de cerdo. Rob got alpaca with salsa. Jenny got creole soup and an avocado sandwich. Shaun got chicken soup and an alpaca sandwich. The waitress at the restaurant brought us our bill and we tried to give her our Visa. She declined and said “no internet.” We specifically picked a lunch spot that took cards to conserve our cash supply. Also, there were several Wi-Fi options available in the immediate vicinity. Jenny was not going to take no for an answer. The waitress came back and Jenny handed her the Visa again and said “no dinero.” The waitress then waved us over to the counter and took the card. The internet must have spontaneously started working again. A true miracle!
We left the restaurant and started back down the hill towards the river. We followed the google map directions for Cocalmayo Hot Springs. It was about a 40 minute walk along the road that follows the river. The sun was so intense along the walk, we all thought we would die, but at least we would be thoroughly cooked for whatever came along to eat us. It was 40 soles for all four of us to enter. This is about 12 USD. The hottest spring was 41C although it did not feel super hot. It was relaxing yet also refreshing. We met a woman from Toronto who was on the Salkantay trek. We chatted with her for a bit until she had to leave. Once we were all satisfied and a little pruny we decided to head back to Eco Hacienda. Jenny and I both wanted to get a taxi to the cable car but we got vetoed by the boys. So we made the long walk back to the Eco Hacienda. At least the sun was behind the mountain now, so the walk was much cooler.
We made it back to our rooms with time to relax before dinner. Rob took a shower and informed me there was hot water. This was a first in our room, although the Sweeneys had had warm showers all along. I decided to shower as well and it was so nice. Dinner was grilled chicken, cold marinated vegetables, french fries, and fried yucca. It was delicious. About halfway through dinner, we heard a fluttery buzzing sort of noise. We looked up and saw a huge flying moth-like creature bouncing off the ceiling lights. Shaun described it most accurately as a breakfast sausage link with wings. It was the same size and color. We realized that there were lights on outside and open windows near the ceiling so we decided to try and get it to move outside by turning off the inside lights. The instant the interior lights went off, Mothra dive-bombed our dining table and nested into the tea bags. Everyone jumped back from the table in terror. The lights went back on to draw it away from the table. The moth went to a window and by now our host family had noticed the commotion and came to investigate. Uncle Tio nonchalantly grabbed it with one hand and tossed it outside. We all laughed at our reactions. I went to fix a cushion on the couch, and as I walked away, I noticed an EVEN BIGGER MOTH! We all noticed it at the same instant. Luckily for us, it was stationary on the wall. My movements didn’t disturb it. Until suddenly it started flying around!! It moved more like a bird than a moth. Mandy chugged her last sip of wine and we all evacuated the dining room. We patted all the dogs on the patio area and laughed with our host family at ourselves for a while. After patting all the pups for a little bit, Dixie got them fired up and they began horsing around with each other. At that point, we decided to call it an early night and parted ways as we were all exhausted from the days activities.
Peru: Day 3
We woke up when we were good and ready at like 6:00 am. We’d agreed upon an 8:00 am breakfast last night, so we had tons of time. After a quick dip in the pool, we showed up early and found the table set with coffee and tea. There was a pitcher of hot water and a small carafe of coffee. We poured the coffee into our cups, but it was nearly solid black. We took a sip and it was tepid. We were all underwhelmed, until Mandy said, “Hey why don’t we pour in the hot water? That’s how Café Americano is made.” D’oh!! After we topped up with hot water and added some cream it was a-m-a-z-i-n-g coffee. They brought out bread, marmalade, and butter, then jugo de papaya, then banana pancakes. All of it was fantastic.
After breakfast, we relaxed a while. But eventually, we met up with Yerson in the courtyard. He’s part of the host family, and he’d agreed to lead us on a short hike from the property. The four host dogs also joined us on our hike. Blanca, Dixie, Yogi, and Buddy (pronounced Boo-dee - we spent a long time trying to figure out how to spell Boo-dee and then realized it was probably supposed to be Buddy.) We left on a trail right next to the pool, and climbed steadily upwards. We saw coffee plants, spicy tomato trees, coca plants, mandarins, limes, and all sorts of vegetables whose names we’ve forgotten. Yerson pointed out to us all sorts of fauna. We hiked along a stream for about 45 minutes to a lovely waterfall. We took some pictures at the top of hike and then made our way back down. By the time we got to the bottom we were all a little sweaty, so we hopped in the pool again to cool off. Shaun and Jenny have a Youtube channel called People Walking Places, and well, since we’re people and we were walking in a place, they made a video of it! It’s not been finished at the time of posting this, but you can check out their channel here for cool videos and, eventually, a video of this exact hike!
After we dried off and changed, we met up with Yerson again. This time, we set off downhill instead. He lead us down the dirt road to the river. We followed along the river for a half mile or so to a little cable car/trolley/zipline thing. Yerson took Mandy across the river first, and then returned to pick up Jenny. Before he set off, he fired off a bunch of instructions in fast Spanish. Shaun and I got the gist of it, kind of. Once they were safely on the opposite side of the river, we hauled the trolley back and hopped in. Shaun and I zipped across the river and Yerson returned to the other side to head back home after giving us directions to continue to the town center. We began the steep ascent up into Santa Teresa proper. At the top of the stairs, we were basically in someone’s backyard. We went around the block and were in the center of town. We wandered around aimlessly a bit until we found a spot we liked to get lunch. Restaurant Las Tres Regiones. We ordered a round of adult beverages and lunch. We all tried Shaun’s pisco sour and loved it, so eventually we each ordered one for ourselves. Pisco is a type of liquor that’s native to Peru. Pisco sour is a mix of pisco, whipped egg white, limes, sugar, and nutmeg. It’s basically like a margarita without any tequila flavor, and more lime flavor. It’s super sour. The limes here are really good.
After lunch, we made our way back to the Hacienda. We got to ride the cable car again! Once at the hacienda we all hopped in the pool to cool off. After we dried off and relaxed for a bit, we went out for another hike with Yerson. This time we climbed up to a little neighborhood above the Hacienda. It’s neat to hike around here because every time you come around a ledge or shoulder of a mountain, you find stuff that you have no idea was there. From the Hacienda, there’s no indication that there’s a whole neighborhood up there, but it’s not far at all. It was a pretty good hike, fairly short. We came back down the opposite side of the hill and around via the dirt road.
Back at the Hacienda, we had some coffees by the pool and relaxed a bit before dinner. Dinner was set for 7:00 pm and we all decided to have lomo saltado. Lomo saltado is a traditional Peruvian dish that’s essentially a beef stir fry with onions and peppers, served with french fries and rice. The sauce is very light, and based on soy sauce. In short – it’s wicked good. We had no idea they love french fries so much in Peru, but we’ve had them with nearly every dish. And they cook them really well here. They’re thick cut, like steak fries. We also got a round of pisco sours with dinner. They were much stronger and more sour here than at the restaurant in town. During dinner, there were several insects flying around the dining area. Yerson had pointed out one of them to us on one of our earlier hikes. He described the insect as similar to a mosquito but bigger, and used his hand to form a claw in demonstration. These insects were now flying around the dining area and were terrifying. We referred to them as pterodactyl mosquitoes. Yerson informed us that they don’t bite, but we didn’t want to find out. It was raining out after dinner, so we decided to get out of the insect room. We all opted to hang out in our room and try to watch some Netflix. The Wi-Fi signal was not quite strong enough, so we decided to watch Dante’s Peak that I had previously downloaded from Netflix as Rob had never seen it. Jenny and I fell asleep early on, so Shaun and Rob watched through to the end and then we all dispersed for some shut-eye.
Peru: Day 1
We woke up around 5:00 am (okay I got up at 5:20 am) and started getting ready to head to the airport. We requested an Uber shortly before 6:00 am. Trevor soon arrived and we set off. He stated that he had been driving slowly because there was a lot of debris in the roads from the night before. To be fair, there were a lot of large branches down on the backroads. However, we quickly learned that he drove slow even when the roads were clear. Like 30-in-a-50 slow. We made it to the airport around 7:30 am. Close to an hour and a half later. There was some typical morning commute traffic that had slowed us down as well.
Regardless, we had checked in for our flights online so we went straight to security with our mobile boarding passes. There was absolutely no line and we made it through security in about 2 minutes. We think that might be a record for us. The gate for our flight was E8 and was conveniently right at the end of the security line. We grabbed a seat and dropped our bags.
Rob went to use the restroom and when he returned I got an alert that our flight had been delayed 1 hour and 24 minutes from 9:21am to 10:45 am departure to Panama City. This likely means that we will miss our connection in Panama City to Lima. We inquired about options for the next leg of the trip at the gate and the attendant explained that her supervisor would be in shortly to explain to everyone how this will be handled. Soon enough, a man appeared at the desk and started to make an announcement. He explained that the flight was delayed due to an ill crew member and the need to have time to bring in someone else to make the flight possible. He explained that there is a team in Panama City that helps with missed connections and they will not rearrange flight schedules until the flight takes off from Boston. Depending on how the flight path is we could arrive a little early and potentially make the connection. In other words, we’ll take off late but they’re going to mash the motor to try and get to Panama as ASAP as possible, and maybe we’ll catch our original flight.
The delay also meant that the Sweeneys actually had a fighting chance to make the flight! We texted them about the delay and the fact that there was no line at security. We got a reply at 8:18 am that they were on their way to the airport from the expedited passport center. They got new passports in 45 minutes! They made a questionably legal commute to Logan International Airport. Luckily, our friend Ryan lives near the airport, and he kindly took an Uber to the airport to pickup their car to save them the time and cost of parking. It had been a whirlwind 24 hours but they made it to the airport in time for the flight! They even had time to spare so that they could grab some food. So far things were working out for us.
We boarded the flight and got our seats. Shaun and Jenny were in 6A and 6B and Rob and I were in 6E and 6F. The flight was fairly smooth overall. I watched couple of movies, Maleficent and Isn’t It Romantic. Rob watched Cirque du Soleil. We were served breakfast on board, even though it was around lunchtime at this point. We both opted for the waffles which also came with a fruit cup, yogurt, and a dinner roll.
Towards the end of our flight, our estimated time of arrival was 3:10 pm local time in Panama City. Our connecting flight to Lima was scheduled to leave at 3:45 pm. Perhaps we could make it! We pulled up our mobile boarding passes to have them ready to go. I had been using the Copa app on my phone. When I pulled up my boarding pass it displayed a pass for an evening flight that was scheduled to leave around 6:30 pm and would arrive in Lima at 10:30 pm. So at this point we figured they just assumed we wouldn’t make it and put us on the next flight. We decided to try anyway. The gate was set to close at 3:36 pm. Time to hustle.
We got off the plane as quickly as possible and soon learned we were in terminal 2. We needed to be at Gate 111 in terminal 1. We silently agreed to sprint to the gate. We all began running and the boys quickly passed us to go on ahead. You know those moving sidewalks that they have at the airports? They had a bunch of those. But, inconveniently, none of them were working. I quickly tired of running. I don’t love cardio and it’s even more difficult while wearing jeans and carrying all of your belongings. Luckily, the guys made it to the gate and it was still open. Jenny and I made it with a few minutes to spare. With a quick glance at our passports, we were allowed to board. Once on the plane we discovered that our seats were occupied. Likely, they had been given away when we had been scheduled for the next flight. After several minutes we were instructed by the crew to occupy new seats. Rob and I wound up in 33B and 33E. Both middle seats in the last row of the plane. Lovely. At least we were on the flight. It is supposed to be 3 hours and 10 minutes air time. We departed a little later than expected. Perhaps that was due to our late arrival. Sorry fellow fliers!
The flight was sweaty and cramped, but uneventful. They served us dinner of beef hot pocket and a carrot salad. It was disappointing, but whatever. The pirouline cookies were delicious though. Once in Lima, we stood on the plane for so long waiting to get off. The back row is the worst spot to be. When we finally got out, we made our way to the ground transportation area. We paid for a taxi to our accommodations for the night, a few miles away from the airport at Tupac Hostel. We were done travelling for the day, but not done travelling.
We checked into the hostel and bought a beer. Cusquena. It was okay. Shaun, Mandy and I split it. It did not last long. After we dropped our bags in our room, we went back down to the street in search of food. We popped into a few restaurants, trying to find something we all agreed on. We finally found a good option at Diego’s, or something like that. But when we tried to order, he was basically like “All we have left is chicken, sorry”. But we wanted pork chops, too. So, we left. We ended up coming across a little plaza of street food vendors, and ordered a couple plates that we had no idea about, by just pointing at a menu. I was given a plate of spaghetti with a chicken drumstick and fried bananas. Shaun was given nothing, until we reiterated the order. Then he received a dish of rice, goat, fried potatoes and fried bananas. I was jealous. While mine was good, his looked fantastic. We were also given a lemon and anise tea, or something? I’m not really sure, but it was pretty good. After we finished all the food and were done watching the street dogs play, we paid and left. The total for two large plates full of food was S/12 or approximately US$4. A steal! We made our way back to the hostel and went to bed pretty much immediately. It was about 10:15pm
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.