Lions, tigers, and robbers

Trip Start Jan 23, 2010
Trip End May 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Pariwana Hostal

Flag of Peru  , Madre de Dios,
Friday, October 29, 2010

Well, it seems I am earning my title of Backtracker instead of Backpacker.  I am once again in Cusco!  I decided to come back this way instead of continue up the Peruvian coast for a number of reasons, but the main one was simply that I felt as though I hadn´t really spent enough time gettint to know the place my first time around, so here I am.

I once again stayed at the oh so fab Pariwana hostal, even though it completely kills my $10/day budget (they charge somewhere around $7 or $8), because it really is its own little slice of paradise, set in an old colonial building with a central courtyard filled with flowers, rocking chairs, gigantic beanbags and endless tea. THIS is living

Anyway, I generally find that the people make the place, and this time around was no exception, as I met a wonderful array of interesting people.  First we have Ranj, the British-Indian girl in my dorm  who is a doctor and trippin around South America. Also in my dorm was Santiago, a videographer from Buenos Aires who is slowly making his way to Costa Rica to shoot surfing videos.  He lost his only camera two days after I met him.  Then we have Ellen, the South Korean who lived and studied in Kansas for four years.  And of course there´s Gustavo and Rodrigo, the beautiful Brazillian flight attendents.

I invited Ellen to join me for a dinner date that I had made w/ ol whatshisname when I had run into him on the streen once again after also having seen him in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile and later in La Paz.  We went ,and it proved to be relatively uninteresting, but then we exited to find the pleasant suprise of the festival de la música criola taking place in the main square.  Here they had set up dozens of bamboo towers, all intricately rigged with fireworks, as well as a massive stage playing host to a concert.

Ellen and I enjoyed the fireworks displays, which proved to be a wild event with the towers periodically shooting off colorful sparks and at times whole sections of flaming bamboo into the crowd.  Then the winds came up and collapsed the ignited towers, which the pyrotechnicians heroically tried to salvage until they finally gave up and simply lit the remaining fuses, which this time really sent sparks and flames in every direction.

Ellen and I then moved towards the concert, where it began to rain and where Ellen got pickpocketed.  Unfortunately, she was carrying her passport, $1000.00, her ATM card, and her camera with all of her Machu Picchu photos. NOOOOOO!!!! She panicked and I did my best to calm her, dictating the steps she would now need to take.  I also volunteered my bank account for a wire transfer and thus, being the weekend, it was decided that I would stick around for a few more days in  order to get the money to her. The following day, luckily enough, someone decided to sell Ellen her passport back for a mere 20 soles ( $7!!), so all in all her primary loss was financial.  A bummer, but not the end of the world.

On Halloween Ellen invited me, and I invited Ranj, to join her and the Brazillians  in handing out candy to the kids in the plaza. As handing out candy is one of my  favorite parts of Halloween, I was thrulled to accept.  We went out and there were dumbos, fairies, witches, batmans, and devils everywhere, all carrying their little pumpkins and looking for candy; abd when they found out that we had some, we were literally mobbed, like someone might break a hip mobbed.  And gustavo and Rodrigo didn´t dissapoint, as they brought enough candy to feed the hoards. After some pool, fooseball, and tea, bedtime it was.

Otherwise, my remaining days in Cusco were spent preparing for my walk through the sacred valley and some serious bargain hunting for a cookstove.  Ellen got her money and her passport and was on her way (only after planting the idea of teaching English in South Korea in my head) and I continued on as well.
Hasta Luego, Cusco 

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Uncle Marc on

Great story, I keep seeing on Yahoo homepage, that it is a very good area to retire in, yesterday they had an article on Bolivia and Nicaraugua. Does the political climate seem fairly stable down there? I think it is awesome that you are traveling on $10 a day! I love your pics of the multi colored buildings, wild! Seems that folks aren't afraid of color. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for keeping us updated, love you, JJ and Marc on

Hey Uncle marc, thanks for the comment! The political climate is not exactly what you`d call stable and there are frequent strikes in opposition to one government policy or another. Traveling on 10$ a day is truly no easy task, but to be honest, I actually enjoy the challenge of making it happen! I usually divide the ten dollars into 3$ for lodging, $3 dollars for food, and $4 dollars for extras, transport, fun etc. I also give myself a $30 a week cushion for things like contact lense solution ( 20$), long trips, or much needed splurges. Here in Venezuela life has become more expensive and I`m spending something along the lines of 15$ dollars a day (and that is with a black market exchange rate!)

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