Feeling rested and loads better than we did yesterday, we went downstairs for our free bread and jam breakfast. We didn’t have anything planned for the day but we weren’t going to be picked up until 2:30pm. So we decided to go back to Cuzco square to attempt to mail postcards to Chris’ lovely mom. We negotiated our fair down to 4 soles (that’s only about $1.25) after having to walk a short way to find a taxi. We stopped at one of the churches that had not been on our city tour called (check brochure). It was 15 sol (about $5) for 1 adult and 1 student to enter. While we still could not take photographs, this church was GORGEOUSLY decorated in artwork, carvings, and gold leafs as well as signed in Spanish AND English. We spent about an hour touring inside and as we left were informed our entrance here was valid at 3 other church locations. While we did not have the time to see these, I would recommend this to anyone as a great value whether you do one or all four. After finishing up, we continued our walk through the square to the serpost a parade passed by with beautiful colors, music, and dancing. When we approached the serpost building, we were disappointed and confused to find it closed. After all we could see the sign with days and hours posted telling us it should be open. There was a mailbox out front but we couldn’t use it as we had not yet purchased stamps.
So instead we walked through the city asking in our broken Spanish where to buy stamps. This quickly turned into a wild goose chase as we were told 2 more blocks, 1 more block, this store, that...and then Chris got hangry ;) Knowing that the best food was just outside the square, we walked a few MORE blocks and began our search for...alpaca! We had seen the meat on a menu before and asked David, our guide in Manu, had highly recommended it. After a few failed attempts we found a restaurant tucked in the back of an alley that smelled AMAZING! We ordered our alpaca to share (in case we didn’t like it) and Chris finally got the Inca Cola he had been craving from day one. Fun fact, they are part of Coca Cola! I ordered an awesome mojito, excellent size and taste...for only 10 sol (about $3). God I already miss those prices...the meat came out looking similar to a skirt steak but had been expertly seasoned and tenderized. We would have gladly ordered another but we planned to stop at our favorite pizzeria, DiMatteo Pizzeria to get a pie for the flight. We stopped by around 12 to find our the pizzeria did not open until 2 so we went back to finish packing.
At 2 we walked down to check out, anticipating additional fees for showers and the 18% tax that orbitz.com had warned us was coming. But when we said we were checking out they just took the keys and let us go. Now the reason might be that she really only spoke Spanish and we really only spoke English. This also was the first time we saw this particular lady and she was cleaning...so who knows but we were happy not to shell out more! The showers we were a little sneaky about because there is a sign that says 15 sol showers. We never found out if that was a per day or per shower but they didn’t provide towels and we didn’t ask since we had traveled with our microfiber towels. We just made care to pull our stuff out of the shower each day although I am sure they could tell it was wet and used...but they never asked and we didn’t tell! Besides, we took care of them in other ways like giving them the 50 sol cuy, leaving snacks we didn’t eat, and of course tipping the house keeping staff generously for helping us on our trip :) Anyway, we were ready to walk out the door for pizza at 2...but the shuttle has arrived! 40 minutes early according to the itinerary we had but luckily we were ready to go...no pizza though 💔
We flew an airline called LC Peru to get to and from Lima. While we did not have to check our packs on the way in, they were looking fuller despite not having bought anything so we were forced to check them on the way out. Luckily, this was a free service, although it was nerve racking to potentially lose our bags in a foreign country. This also forced us to claim our bags and then go back through security, but we later found out we would have had to do this either way. Of course, there was a 45 minute delay but our next flight had a 4 hour layover so plenty of time. You should definitely pad your travel times!!
In Lima we had the serious misfortune of having our flight home cancelled due to mechanical issues. I’m not sure if any of you have experienced this but I can describe it in one word...chaos. People lose their damn minds!!! I do wish American crew had been more organized but I see how it could be very difficult when you have a mob in your face. The first step in dealing with this cancellation was to surrender our passports in a bucket...even though every fiber of our being was telling us not to we did as asked. Despite having copies and pictures of our passports it felt extremely vulnerable to be in a foreign country without our passports. We even saw a couple we had met while hiking Machu Picchu that told us they had refused to give them up. While at first we envied them for this decision, later it ended up causing them to wait longer as all the passports needed to be stamped back into Peru for the night.
As we waited, we could hear bits and pieces of broken information announced before the throng of people started howling over the staff. I have to say, as much as no one likes these situations, people make it that much worse when they don’t allow the staff to do their job. Crying about your problems when you have 300 other people in the same boat just slows down the process for everyone, including yourself!! They handed the passports back, one by one by calling out the names of the owners and shunting us onto a bus. From there we had to go to the ticket counter to rebook and we were offered hotels and meals. When Chris and I arrived in the line, there were only 10 people in front of us! But...there was a business class line and then a line for special assistance people (wheelchairs and babies)...and between all these people it took 1.5 hours to see an attendant. While waiting, we got to witness the worst in people as a lady from business class screamed at and berated a lady in a wheel chair so she could be cared for first. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, there is no excuse for being an asshole.
We arrived at our close hotel around 3am and would have to wake around 7 for our 10am flight...but just getting to shower and lay down was worth the extra effort to be there. Many people, myself included, want to be properly compensated when issues like this come up, but for each person standing there trying to get the right bang for their buck...there are another 30 in line that can’t be helped. I took what was immediately offered and left but I will be following up with a call to discuss things later. We made our flight the next day with no further delays and were finally on our way home. Apparently, they do the “customs check” at the Lima airport prior to boarding...but this was very lax...the lady opened the top of my bag, simply asked if I had any liquids and then closed it. Although, I am certain my dirty socks didn’t make her want to dig, I was expecting a scan or a more thorough check back in the US but it never came.
One last note, it was our first time flying on Avianca airline and they were awesome!!! This flight included very comfortable, reclining seats WITH footrests, personal monitors to select movies or games (with a super neat controller) AND....free booze! Although, for this 6 hour flight they didn’t even come through until almost 3 hours in, they did make a second round about an hour later :)
Thanks a ton if you have been following. Please keep an eye out for our next adventure blog as we travel to Isla de Guadalupe to dive with great white sharks!