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.
"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.