South America…. Days 1 – 3 – Karina has the Mike
Well… Hello, Ole, Buenos Dias etc… Given ‘Thor’ was allowed to contribute to this blog it seemed only fair that Adrian’s wife (a living, breathing, real life human being) was also given the opportunity to have a few words)… I wonder if my invasion and intrusion into this blog is the equivalent of Ewan McGregor’s wife crashing Ewan and Charlie’s party… hmmm….
Well, my name is Karina and I have the privilege of being able to call Adrian my very best friend. In the words of Salt n’ Pepa – What a mighty good mayan…yes he is!
Three months apart and it is fair to say Adrian and I have both coped exceptionally well without each other, at times I found this concerning and the looks of disbelief in response to the common question ‘do you miss him’ also added to my concern. After spending just 1.5 full days with Adrian (pre and post beard), I am confident this is only sign of our solid friendship, complete connection and unwavering trust and nothing more. Don’t over think it Gherna… trust the love.
My last few days before leaving Australia were spent celebrating my amazing father’s retirement (52 years of service). Perhaps I celebrated a lil too hard (love you daddy) as I lost a whole day to the couch in fear of having to see that ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwich a second time.
I let the pressure of losing a day get to me and started to worry excessively about everything, will Adrian still like me? Will I like Adrian? Chile… on my own? Will I be safe? I hate turbulence, Do I even want to go? Will I be cold? What book should I take? Is Adrian REALLY going to keep that beard? … I think you get the picture. It’s pretty ‘trademark Karina’ to get uptight before a holiday but this was a lil OTT, and I knew that. As a consequence I was contacted by many of my beautiful friends and family wishing me well, asking questions, sending love and I unfairly ignored them all because I was too nervous to talk about it…. silly, I know. So sorry to any of my friends / family reading this that attempted to contact me…sometimes I am just a weirdo….
Anyhow, my Daddy’s first day of retirement was spent picking me up at 0500 to take me to the port of air. A quick tear from a loving mum and dad and I was off, there was no stopping it, I was in the hands of ‘life’ determined to make the most of it…
Left Adelaide at 0700 Monday and arrived Santiago Chile approx 1000 the same day, it took two hours to snake my way through immigration and was slugged $100USD reciprocity for entering the country (FBS!!). I had planned to make my way 7kms from my hotel to the local Bikram yoga to stretch me aching bones however the time spent getting through immigration put a big dent in that plan. I checked into my hotel, changed clothes, back pack on and began the race against time to make it to the 1330 class… **say it like Forest Gump** I just kept run-nin…only stopping to check my map here and there… well it got to 1320 and I gave up, lil bit lost, lil bit deflated, lil bit sweaty but happy I had fit in a run…
After that I visited the local supermarket, (my favourite holiday pastime… Aidy HATES it, I just love to look at all the crazy foods and drinks and scoff over the ridiculously cheap prices…) enjoyed some strawberries in the local park over a chapter of my book and decided to make my way back ‘home’ before dark as I was unsure of the ‘safety’ situation in Santiago once the sun has called it a day. Of course, I stopped in a few more supermarkets, local mall and market place on my return… I was proud of myself for venturing past my fears and heading out and about on my own.
Early start the next morning with a 0630 pick up to return to the port of air. A four hour flight to Peru (Lima) followed by a turbulent one hour flight from Lima to Cusco, happily landing on terra firma at 1445. The Pension (upmarket Hostel) we are staying in (which, sorry for interrupting again, I am completely in love with) arranged a complimentary pick up and I was to look for a sign board with my name and the Pension Alemana logo. I gathered my luggage and exited the safety of the airport into the exposure of Cusco’s warm air… guess what? I couldn’t see a sign with my name on it, my wandering eyes attracted the attention of a short, tanned, basic English speaking competitor ‘ole lady, tuksi…? I am grateful I was prepared for this and the stubborn old Taurus repeatedly stated ‘no thank you…’ despite the short brown man, following me back and forth. I phoned the Pension…as soon as I began to speak, my eyes caught sight of a familiar name, I breathed a sigh of relief and was whisked away by another short brown Peruvian man however this man’s eyes were much kinder and I felt an air of sincerity… Phew!
The drive to Pension Alemana was breathtaking…. The extreme history here really smacks you in the face. The small alleys that seem only suitable for foot traffic, the lines on the road that usually indicate a lane did not seem to hold any importance and the distance between car and car, and car and human can only be described as an invasion on personal space, this also caused my breath to be taken away…. via fear haha.
I don’t want to go on about it too much but this pension is gorgeous. The staff were very welcoming, I entered the doors, popped my suitcase down and completed the necessary paper work. I was offered a Coca Tea (will tell you more about THAT later) and the arrangements were very kindly given to me by Raquel (the lady whom I would soon ‘mentally downgrade’ due to her love for ‘the beard’). I went to grab my suitcase and head to my room but it had already been taken, Raquel escorted me my abode which has an amazing view of terracotta, mountains, sun and the sloping panorama of Cusco below…. I felt very lucky and was overwhelmed by feelings of vicarious excitement for Adrian.
I again ventured to the local Supermarket for a rockin’ good time as the sun began to fade behind the landscape. I had read many accounts of muggings / rapes / assaults in Peru and my instincts told me to get closer to home. I had consulted trip advisor for a suitable dinner venue and honed in on a familiar (somewhat westernised) cafe called Jack’s Cafe. Well it was perfect, only a short walk from home..Salad, Bread, Dip, Coffee and a Brownie later… It was time to call it a day.
The stairs that lead to home gave me an appreciation of living in altitude… my desire to get home quickly was delayed as my pace slowed due to the loud vibrations of my heart trying to escape via my chest…. wow….’ think of the calories I am burning’ I thought…
The wireless here is much better than expected and the night from then on consisted of Heytell, email, Facebook and Instagram as well as the odd SMS and Whatsapp… victim of technology… ?? The Inca history can just wait a moment….I got friends to talk to!
To say I slept like a baby would be completely inaccurate… or would it?? I stayed up until close to midnight (after only sleeping perhaps four hours in Chile and one hour on the flight from Sydney to Chile, so five-ish hours since I left Adelaide on Monday morning). I figured I would be soooo tired I would basically pass out. After blow drying my hair, singing along to a few tunes, shaving the relevant area’s (personal hygiene needed to again become a priority hehe) and updating my ‘status’, I attempted to sleep. A combination of excitement, nervousness, jet lag, altitude and a strange bed meant I only slept for approx. four hours, again waking up at 0400 to watch a bit of the Kardashian’s or some other second rate TV we all pretend to hate but secretly love.
Raquel had advised that breakfast was served from 0700 – 0930, so after some prime time viewing I got myself up and made myself beautiful… this took several hours hahaha. I headed down to the B&B style communal kitchen and was offer ‘scrambled or fried’…. woo how cool is this, next a big bowl of breadrolls and slices of cheese found themselves in front of me about to face their untimely demise. This is on top of the cornflakes, muesli, toast, yoghurt, freshly chopped fruit, jam, honey, tea and coffee. It was only right to sample everything so I knew what I was dealing with (including the difference between, toast, whole grain and white bread), it was delicious and I had given myself a nice buldging belly to present to Aidy on his impending arrival.
I had already arranged for the same driver who picked me up to pick Adrian up although this time they charged me 25 soles (about $8USD), fair enough. Me and my nerves were off to the airport to see my mountain man. We arrived at the airport and I advised the driver that I would find him, I started to head towards the small crowd of people waiting for arrivals / potential $oles when I heard a voice from behind me – OI, ALLO! Whoa what a hairy man, I promptly changed direction and launched into three months worth of hugs in one…. it was quiet for a moment, the only noise was the huge overwhelmed breaths of air entering both of our lungs. I’m safe and cared for once again…..it feels like home.
I was like a seasoned resident of this ol’ town and I led the way, the taxi journey was filled with our voices, non stop. Adrian trying to force the history of the Inca’s down my throat, me mesmerised by the amount of hair this red head can grow! We agreed that if I stopped mentioning the beard he would not force the entire history of the Inca’s and the Spanish invasion into my ears, it was like he had never gone!
We got to the Pension and Adrian loved it as much as I, it was great to see the huge smile on his face, particularly when I told him of the great breakfast and the Coca tea (made from leaves used to create the base for cocaine!). We checked him in, unpacked some things, compared the odd traveller’s tail, Aidy showered and we headed out into the great city of Cusco. Adrian keeps saying, he hasn’t ever seen anything like it, I love the amazement in his voice
We headed to a place called Green’s organics….. which was apparently very hard to find in a street that leads directly off the main square but we both enjoyed the journey to find it, winding through the back streets and cobbled stones all the while being cautious of the cars that also venture down these tiny alley’s, it’s in your best interest to get out of the way…. they show no signs of slowing down. Lunch (1600) was amazing, fresh and revitalising, I had a quinoa soup and Aidy had an alpaca wrap… (when in Rome!!). This was accompanied by the freshest of juices, a side of rice and veg and some bread, olive oil and balsamic!! **gives two big thumbs up**
Dinner was a shared meal held not all that long after lunch, it consisted of a Kebab, salad (with sweet yoghurt… weird) and some ‘chips’ (like fries that have been in the microwave) and water, it was Aidy’s choice and this was held in a small ‘nothing’ looking restaurant away from the square, as it was away from the square it cost something like $4USD!
SO a good, laid back introduction to Cusco for Aidy, we got back to our room and Aidy fell asleep pretty quickly, which was ok with me as I had basically eaten all day and was not feeling entirely sexy! Hehehe (yes, that IS what I am talking about…). Day Uno – CHECK! I still love Adrian – CHECK, he still loves me – CHECK….Sleep – CHE….. well, we will see how that goes tonight….. fingers crossed.
Mountain man Adrian back now
Good morning everyone – now that i’ve taken over from the blogging hijacker we can get back down to business.
The staff here at the hotel love the beard and were very upset at its disappearance – and so am I actually. Even my favourite little staff member Raquel was sad to see it go. The hairdresser story is a long one but it needs telling – I need to vent. I learned a lesson today that I read about but forgot to put into practice. That is to decide on a price BEFORE going ahead with things here. She took her sweet ass time on purpose I think to charge me more and finished with pointing at my beard to which I said ‘just a little shorter please’ and I kind of signalled a ‘big to small’ sign with my hands. It all started well with a trim and I thought ‘hmm this looks alright’ and then off comes the number 2 connection leaving a bare blade and VROOOOOOOM one foul swoop and she shaved it clean off.
Took my by suprise and I see Karina cracking up in the background. YEAH LAUGH IT UP…………….so here I am all shaven and clean and lost my travellers touch now and being ripped off at the hairdresser (a good lesson learned heheh) Now all the staff here at the hotel are upset because they loved it – Who knew – I could’ve picked me up a Peruvian beauty – if I was single and lived here and still had that beard and and and and– if only hehehe.
Cusco as Karina has stated is truly awesome. Although in my opinion it is a little tarnished with that touristic vibe of people walking around with llamas and fake traditional clothing, selling photos and people asking you for massages everywhere, but it has still retained a lot of its vibe of how the Incas lived here up to the Spanish invasion around the 1500’s. It’s totally amazing to see a culture of people and the history that spans so far back. The buildings are amazing with their stone work that requires no mortar – just precision work from the Inca tribe spanning back from the 11/1200’s. You see both Spanish, Inca and Peruvian traditions here and it’s breathe taking in both senses of the word. The altitude here in Cusco is around 3500mtrs and you notice it with restless sleep, frequent toilet visits, breathlessness just climbing a set of stairs etc. This city is the base for acclimatisation for many of the famous spots/hikes around here and it’s a good thing we are here for a while to acclimatise before we go on our hike to Machu Picchu. I will do a rundown of our hike when we return rather then break it up in days I think (i can hear the sighs of relief from here)
We found a market that I read afterwards that was made for Peruvians by Peruvians and I was really excited to go in there and see what the buzz was about. It was a market place and I couldn’t see any white people in there but all these tiny traditional food stalls where all the Peruvians are eating lunch and all traditional foods being nuts, fruit, meats, vegies and the staples of the Peruvian people. The vibe was amazing in there and we sat down at one of these little food stalls where let’s just say that hygiene isn’t of the most importance here hehehe but the food looked amazing and we sat down and pointed at a few dishes that we liked and the old lady began to dish us out of her pots that looks very well used over the years. I had a really nice traditional soup and Karina had this vegie rice thing. It was a good feeling to be sitting amongst the locals and eating what they are eating that’s for sure.
Writing this journal from the comfort of a hotel is really nice – no more concerns over battery life of laptop or keeping warm enough at night so I can use my fingers to type the right words. I am really excited to go on this hike because I read up a little about the Inca people who used to live in the Andes and the wars they had with the Spanish. I bought a book about the history of the Inca Trail and the explorer who found a lot of the ruins here that were off the map for centuries. It has sparked my interest to see it in the flesh now and see what I have been reading about.
Karina wasn’t feeling well yesterday so I decided to go on a little hike myself and I went way out of the touristic part and seen how all the people that work here live. It is really mud brick houses, shanty town like areas that are nestled into the hill and the drop is amazing. I felt like a stranger in someones back yard but I really wanted to see a different part of cusco so I walked for hours and hours and had such a great time just amazed at the little houses and the lifestyle here. The dogs that roam around everywhere here are friendly but as soon as you venture out of the city they start getting very territorial for some reason and a few rocks had to be thrown otherwise I definitely would’ve been bitten.
Fact for the day – I was doing some reading about the Original Incas that used to rule this area and one of the original rulers son was called Tupac. Karina got onto her iphone and wikipedia’d that sh!t up and the rapper 2pac was named so by his mother after the Incas – cool fact of the day.