Temperature and culture shock

Friday 3/13/09 Lima to Cuzco

Day two of my trip to Peru started in the middle of the night touching down in Lima the capital. When we had left Minnesota it was warm for a Minnesota March, but when we touched down we were all over dressed. It was really hot and muggy.  We stood sweating in a long line to get through customs. Once we were all through we hopped on to a bus to take us to our hotel.

Our hotel in Lima

Our hotel in Lima

The hotel was called “Hotel La Castellana.” It was a neat little place. In America most hotel room keys are electrical cards that you swipe through the door. Here we had an actual key. The hallways were narrow with a sickly green light. The color was cause by the lamps on the walls, because the color disappeared when I (accidentally) used flash to take pictures.

We got about three hours of sleep before we had to be up and moving again. The hotel served breakfast in the courtyard. There was freshly squeezed orange juice, rolls with i put butter on, pieces of ham that tasted like bologna and a really nasty tasting yogurt.

Two classmates down for breakfast in the courtyard

Two classmates down for breakfast in the courtyard

As a side note: I’ve noticed that yogurt outside the United States is nothing like the stuff inside.


After breakfast we got back on the bus, it was 7:45 in the morning. I think we would have left the hotel sooner if two of my classmates hadn’t been late getting up.

Looking back as I’m writing this, I’ve realized that I’ve never been good with going through security. On this trip, my first time ever dealing with airport security, I forgot that I had my Ipod in my pocket. Standing there getting the wand waved at me while my group was walking away was horrible. But we finally figured out why I kept beeping through the scanner and I caught up with the group.

Our next leg of the journey would be on a bus-with-wings, later I would come to call them “puddle jumpers.” The flight from Lima to Cuzco lasted only an hour and thirty minutes.

Out of the three plane on this trip I liked the bus-with-wings the most. My left ear had been clogged and in pain from the other two flights. It was nice to be able to hear again. Unfortunately I slept the whole flight. Dang, I missed out on lunch.



The airport in Cuzco was small but welcoming. There were people playing music as we waited for our luggage. Thankfully we didn’t have to carry our stuff, it was loaded on to coach buses for us. The call was divided into two groups and got onto the buses. I got my first culture shock here. As we were getting on the buses vendors were everywhere; selling hats and trinkets. I decided that I would get a hat, but later in the trip.

The buses took us to the Excel Center where we got to meat out host families and try some “mate de coca,” a caffeinated drink to help with any jetlag. I didn’t try any, which I now regret, and neither did my house mate, except her’s was a religions reason.

Our host mother was called Vickie. She had two sons, a 20-something and Erik who was around our age, 16 or 17. We saw the younger son a couple of times and her husband once in passing. He was studying Engligh at the college. My house mate, Madison, liked the younger brother.

Vickie let us unpack our stuff, fed us and then took us to meet our group for our first tour of Cuzco. I found the driving in Peru to be very aggressive compared to the laid back fashion of central Minnesota. I’m pretty sure I held on to the “oh-Jesus” handle the whole time I was in the car.

The group was meeting at a super mercado for our tour. It was bright as we waited for the bus. Like a dunce I had left my hat and antioyos de sol back at the house. Thankfully I did ok without them.

The Tour around Cuzco

For the tour we went out of the city itself to some of the nearby ruins. The first two we went to were Tambomachay and Pakpukara.

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Here is where I regret to say that i don’t remember anything the guide said about the ruins. While most of my classmates were being slow and complaining about how it was hard to breath and how tired they were, I was hopping around the place like a mountain goat. For those of you that know me, wasn’t overly athletic, still aren’t, and have asthma. Now couple those two facts with the jet-lag, higher altitude and inclined ground. So how was I doing so well?

Even Kronk doesn’t get it.

Our next stop on the tour was Q’enqo. Again I was exploring out of ear shot of the guide. Man, I was a stinker as a teenager. On top of all my no listening, it had started to sprinkle so my classmates were grumbling even louder.

The final stop on the tour was Saqsayhuaman. Ask anyone to say it and it sounds like, “sexy woman.” Translated into its original Incan it means: “Head of the Panther.” The entire ruin is made of  limestone in the shape of a panther.

When the Incan’s built their buildings they fit the stones so perfectly together that a piece of paper couldn’t get through. This is reason that their ruins have lasted longer and better than those of the Spanish. Another trip that let the ruins survive is the face that all corners of building are rounded. This trick let shock waves from earthquakes move along them without resistance.

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See, I can pay attention when I want to.

Our guide explained that the size of the rock used for construction were not related to the size of their movers. The Incans were small but had powerful legs.

By this point it was really raining. We left Saqsayhuaman to head back to the super mercado. Madison wanted to take a taxi back to the house. Never again am I riding in a Peruvian taxi. For 1. our seat belts didn’t even work, 2. if I thought Vickie drove agressively, this guy was 10 times worse. But I guess all the matters is that we got back in one piece.

The door was locked when we got back. Now picture it getting dark, you are in a country that isn’t home and you don’t have a cell phone. We were a little worried, to put it mildly. We asked a security guard for the building if he had a phone we could use. He replied that his was only for getting calls not sending them. Eventually we found a nice business man who let us use his. Thank the Lord, I was uncomfortable standing out in the street. 

Vickie let us in and listened to us recount our adventures.

There is just one more thing I have to add. The street vendors are scary beyond all free belief. They flock like birds! and always, ‘Lady” “10 dollars, lady.” It’s hard to ignore them, but there are too many of them to say “no gracias” to every single one. That’s it I think… Hmm did I forget anything?


Categories: Peru 2009 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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