On April 3rd, we left Lima and the beach and the cousins behind. Our last gasp at creature comforts came in the Lima airport where we were delighted to find a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Pinkberry. Ahh, creature comforts.
Totally ready for the next leg of this trip, we boarded the plane to Cusco. Tio Hugo met us and our gargantuan suitcases at the airport and brought us back to his house where my parents were waiting. They had arrived just a few hours earlier, from their own Peruvian beach experience in Mejia. Lots of hugs and stories ensued. We instantly felt the change in altitude and sat down to drink some coca tea. Just walking up the stairs or brushing my teeth made my heart pound and my head throb. We spent the afternoon doing some shopping for things we might not find in the valley. I bought tupperware, lunch boxes, a coffee maker, a pressure cooker pan (assured that this is the only way to cook really good rice), nature valley granola bars, dish towels, bath towels, mugs, bowls, a sharp knife, and a hot water heater. I passed on a toaster and hairdryer, a decision I regretted a mere few days later. It was so hard to buy things when I hadn’t seen the house yet. What would already be there?
The next morning I met my landlord, Fernando. He handed me a ring of keys that would make any custodian jealous. I asked him how many houses I had rented from him! He laughed and said each room in the house had a key. The irony of ironies is that we we did finally arrive, I didn’t have a front door key or a key to open the little door in the main gate. Roll with it Elizabeth. Roll with it.
Here is a photo of me about to have my first Cusco driving experience.
Let me just say that after watching how they drive in Lima and spending the afternoon in the car with Hugo the day before, I seriously thought this might be the last photo of me ever. But I braved the Cusco drivers and found myself pushing and squeezing and passing and yelling things like “Oh no you don’t little orange Kia!”
We made it out of Cusco and climbed from 11,000 feet up and up. My dad was my co-pilot and he happened to have an altimeter. The boys were in the back giving us minute by minute reports. I think we made it up to 12,700 feet before our descent into the valley. One of the towns we drove through is a little town called Poroy. The story is that Simon Bolivar, the gran Libertador of Peru, came with his troops to take Cusco. When they arrived just shy of the city he said to his troops basta por hoy, which means enough for today. They made camp and stormed the city the next day. Well, the por hoy part turned into Poroy and that is how the town got its name. Our caravan kept going over and through the mountains until we came to the town of Chincheros. From Chincheros you can finally peek over to see the valley below. The photo at the top of the page is the view down into the valley where we are living. You can’t see Urubamba but the cluster of houses to the left is the town of Yucay which is just one town over. Urubamba is tucked just behind the mountain. Here is a map where you can see Chinchero, Yucay and Urubamba. Cusco is cut out of the photo, but it is just at the bottom of the photo next to Saqsayhuanan.
The views from the mirador at Chincheros were astounding. I looked around and pinched myself that this would be home for the next four months. Unbelievable. We were greeted by the pop-up market and pre-requisite llamas. I loved the colorful hats. Oh, and just some Inca ruins in the background in case you were interested.
As we made the final descent into Urubamba I was in awe of the total beauty of the valley. Snow caps jutting up from the lush green mountains, and crops lining the road. Here is what I wrote in my journal.
We wound our way down to Urubamba. The road was lined with flowers that looked like black-eyed susans. Lower down the yellow retama came. The mountains are a multitude of greens, bright, some light some dark. As always, looking like a quilt draped gently over the foothills of the Andes–if you can call them foothills at ten, eleven, and twelve thousand feet.
When we finally made our way down and crossed the river into Urubamba, I was filled with excitement and apprehension. What would the house look like? Would the kids like it? How will we ever get settled? I wish Jeff were here. But we made it. And logistics set in. . . key to the front door, lunch, hot water issues, bedroom selection, and unpacking.
Stay tuned for more.