Incan dogs, Lima Airport and Cusco

The mangy looking beasts with patchy hair are, according to my taxi driver, Incan dogs. He said they are ‘good for cancer’. If you walk them? Eat them? They don’t get cancer? Take your pick. I took the coward’s way out and pursued it only briefly and still don’t know how a dog relates to cancer. 

He is the driver for the hotel and, bless him, he wanted to know if I was coming back to the same one in a few weeks.  I dissembled as I’ve booked two hotels and one apartment for my last week in Peru. So far I’ve cancelled two of them. Who knows between now and then what I’ll do. One was the same hotel as I liked it. No, not just because of the two small chocolates placed on your bed each evening. The staff are wonderful. The noise of the adjacent door slamming was off putting. Location is excellent. 

Would you believe it, I’ve joined a Facebook group. Set up by the company running the trip into Machu Picchu, I guess the idea is to facilitate our getting to know each other. Despite having the shortest membership of the group, and not being a Facebook person, I’ve made more contributions than most (all) others so far. Seems pointless as I know the others read things but they don’t contribute. I’m going back into my facebook-free life! 

So many buildings in Lima are unfinished. Reinforcing rods poke up to the sky, openly. I wondered if it represented a side effect of the tax law. In Mexico at one stage, tax was apparently due once a building was finished. Yes, building was always ongoing, permanently. My taxi driver said that’s not the case here but, I wondered.   

Lima Airport

Lima Airport is busy. As you’d expect. And I bought the most expensive chocolates. A replay of my Lindt purchase at the Venice train station! In Lima I wanted change from S/100 note. Serves me right. I only got S/60 back, and a blessing. Hope it helps me, or the person selling them. She seemed overjoyed by the sale. Yeah, I know why… And they were very nice 😙

Is it me or what? The guy at the entrance to security in the domestic section of the airport asked if I spoke english and blessed me when I said ‘yes’. Maybe it helped as I got through security rapidly. Boots stayed on but this security requiredme to take my watch off. The differences across countries are fascinating. From those that require an iPad mini to be removed from your bag, or shoes off, or boots off, belts off, or a small digital camera out to those like today that wanted my watch off and let me leave iPad and camera in bag and boots on.  Fascinating. 

I failed anyhow as I forgot my back pocket was full of coins. But the guy was unusually helpful, taking my watch in hand and holding my change in a small plastic container. Then, I passed. Imagine a plane to Cusco being hijacked, blown up or shot down? Seems unlikely. Bet it’s different on the other side of the airport, the international side. 

People push in here. Twice in lines, for coffees and then to load on the plane, a young guy has pushed in from of me, a different one each time. Be warned boys! I am taller than most of you, for a start. And I believe in fairness in lines. 😊


Finally, Cusco is coming up. I’ve wanted to see it and to go into Machu Picchu for many years. Probably started with my first Aztecan pyramid site in Mexico on at trip with V in 1996, or thereabouts. It became a necessity after seeing Tikal and later, seeing many pyramids when travelling with Ajr around the Yucatan. 

If I die impaled on this flight, it was the 4 point walking stick of the old lady sitting next to me. It was sitting in front of the passenger next to her, sitting beside the window. I agreed to move so a child could sit next to its mother and gained proximity to the stick. Hopefully not my last decision. But it didn’t help that one of my two neighbours crossed herself as the plane lifted off. Hmmm. If she hadn’t been a local I wouldn’t have been as disturbed. 

We flew over km after km of rough rows of serried peaks. No snow, exposed rocky peaks. Some small settlements and in places, tracks along the mountains. I assume vehicular in many tracks.

And then we were coming into Cusco, pivoted on the tip of the left wing as we wheeled into the airport. Seeing the town from up above was exciting. It stretches up and down between smaller peaks and I’m very much looking forward to exploring it. Not in the next few days. First, I want to pick a school to improve my Spanish.

Did you wonder if using a phone would crash a plane? I can assure you it doesn’t. The woman along from me, with the old lady’s stick in front of her, had hers out and was chatting well before we landed. And nothing happened to the plane. 😉

So, I arrived, got bag and walked out of airport chewing coca leaves. Dried ones were in a bowl near the exit and we were invited to take three. I did. Not sure they had an effect. Maybe they did. 

Couldn’t see anyone with a sign with my name. Thought I heard my name being called. Walked back along the waiting drivers and a small, dark haired woman definitely questioned if I was Val. 

Kathleen, my Airbnb landlady for the next two and a bit weeks, had identified me from my Airbnb photo. We picked up the taxi she was in (S/25) and headed off to the apartment. I knew it was near the Plaza de Armas and at the top of some stairs. First impressions are that it will be just what I expected and wanted, ignoring the fact that I’m cold here tonight. 

During our trip to the apartment we chatted. Except for a few words after the first minute we used Spanish. Her english is fine but she was clearly more confortable in Spanish and she is one of those wonderful people who could adjust her language. Not one of the ‘speak more loudly, use more words and do it quickly’ type of conversationalists. No, she speaks clearly, at a reasonable speed and uses plain Spanish.  I will contact her for a coffee soon. She suggested it, I need the Spanish practice and, she is full of interesting local knowledge. 

Apartment seems good and is as shown in the Airbnb site. I was attracted by its colours and  because it seemed light and bright.

How am I managing at this altitude (3,399)? Fine, so far. Well, except when I bend over. As I straighten up I feel a bit light headed. 

Walked down the steps near here, through the Plaza de Armas along a few blocks, to the big supermarket. Bought heaps of vegetables etc to make soup and carried them back with no discernible symptoms. And I fell in love with the corn. Black. Really black. Bought one cob and will cook it tomorrow.

Ask me in a week.

Along the way in, and outside my apartment, it was rapidly clear that many women are ‘professional’ traditionalists. They wear the costume and, in some cases, drag a poor little lama along with them. Well, in the square and not up my stairs, yet, as far as I’m concerned.

Steep cobblestoned stairs. Dry today but I’m tempted to wear boots rather than runners as they feel as though they could be slippery.

So many rainbow flags here! Everywhere. I missed a critical element. The top colour is red. Gay ones are reversed and these ones are Incan rainbows, up for a local celebration. Guess it’s winter solstice. Will learn more in the next week. 

So what’s Cusco like? After a brief walk and a very short time I’m sure I’ll be very happy here. It reminds me so much of hippy towns I was in during  the 1970s, like Kabul. As much as anything it’s the hills, the colours and the not-unpleasantly tourist shops and little Cafes along the nearby streets.

As I walk the streets looking for the sort of Spanish language school I want I’ll obviously learn a lot more about Cusco. Looking forward to that.

Heater is on but I’m cold enough that I’ve put on a down jacket and about to get fleece pants. Even my feet are cold. Was ok while I was busy, cooking vegetable soup for dinner. Now I’m vegetating I’m getting cold. Suspect the place must have been empty for a few days and its cooled down. 

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