HUaraz to Cuzco

Trip Start Jan 09, 2007
Trip End Jul 18, 2007

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Monday, June 11, 2007

I got very ill after finishing the trek in Huaraz, 2 days of fever that left me very weak. I was considering another trek but wesn't really up to it and decided to head for Cuzco. This gave me a couple of days convalescing in Huaraz.. My room had a small balcony overlooking the street and I sat out there catching the morning sun and admiring the mountains when a truck came around the corner followed by a policeman on a motorbike. Clearly the truck driver had committed some offence and was pulled over just below my balcony, there was a brief exchange of words before the policeman parked his bike in front of the truck. Another exchange of words and the truck driver handed over his I-Pod. He showed the policeman how to use it and the policeman rode away happy with his prize listening to the latest Andean rhythms. Corruption is just a part of the daily routine here.
My bus left for Lima at 10.30pm so I still had another day to fill. I was feeling much better and decided to go for a hike with Glynn and Jacki. We walked to some ruins which were supposedly only 7km away, they were much further and up hill all the way. It was an interesting walk through a series of villages up the side of a mountain. We stopped for a rest at the side of the track when a French Canadian couple I knew walked past.
A young lad practicing to be a guide and learning English showed us around the ruins and some other lad showed us the way down the mountain to some thermal baths. I'd probably overdone it walking up the hill and wasn't feeling too good Rain was now threatening and it was quite cold. I hired some shorts and a towel but the thermal baths weren't as hot as I?d hoped. It was good to have a swim though.
I tried to get a cama seat on the bus (which is a bed) but could only manage a semi-cama. I slept a lot of the way and arrived in Lima at about 5.30am. I got off before the main terminal and everything was closed down. I walked onto the street but a security guard called me back, he went and got me a taxi whilst I stayed locked in the terminal. Lima is not a place to wander about at night. The airport was surprisingly good and I had a few hours hanging around there waiting for my flight.
Cuzco is a place where all levels of tourism meet and Lima airport was full of tour groups waiting for flights to Cuzco. Every tour group visiting South America would have Machu Picchu on its itinery. The airport was a buzz with tour guides making sure that there charges were in the right place at the right time and carrying the correct documents. Everything seems to be done for you on these tours.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Cuzco and I took a taxi to a hostal. The taxi driver tried to talk me out of my chosen residence, he obviously had a relative with a hotel of some description. I decided to go to San Blas despite the inconvenience of it being on top of a hill. Plaza de Armas is the main square in Cuzco and the taxi pulled into a side street. He told me that his brother in law could arrange a terek to Machu Picchu and before long the brother in law was in the back of the cab selling me a trip. I was getting an earful all the way to the hostal.
The hostal was quite good despite the inconvenience. By Sunday morning it was clear that I wasn't going to be in any fit state to do anything for a while, I wasn't feeling an awful lot worse but the worrying thing was that I wasn't feeling any better. The landlady gave me the address of a clinic and off I went. The clinic had a hospital at the back. I was there very early in the morning and saw a doctor almost straight away. He immediately suspected Salmonella and ordered a blood and urine test. Come back in an hour. I wandered around some markets and returned to find the place a little busier. Fortunately, not nearly as busy as first appeared, anyone sick enough to visit a doctor here takes along the extended familyso, even though the waiting rooms were crowded, there weren't many patients. All my tests were negative so I just got a couple of injections in the bum and a pocket full of tablets. They helped but I'm still not 100%.
On Monday I wandered around trying to think of a plan, find out what was on offer. The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu seemed like the best alternative, 5 days and 4 nights. I suddenly had the bright idea of arriving at Machu Picchu for my 50th birthday. I counted back and found that I would have to leave the next morning. Bit of a rush. I got quoted prices ranging from $us165 to $us350. I didn't want some dodgy operator so I chose one in the middle, $us210. It was abit of a risk because I wasn't really feeling up to it. A taxi was going to pick me up at 4am the next morning.
Cuzco is a lovely place, full of steep cobbled streets that can barely fit one car. Inka stonework blends with Spanish colonial architecture. It's pointless to say that Cuzco is touristy, of course it is, it's the gateway to the biggest tourist attraction in South America. There are lots of hippies and backpackers intermingling with top end tourists. In amongst it all are the locals trying to sell anything that's not nailed down. Despite this it still has charm and wandering about aimlessly is very rewarding. I can't understand these people who rock in at 7.30 in the morning and are on a tour by 9.
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