Alright, I know it’s been a long time since I’ve last updated, but between activities, visitors, and traveling, it’s been hard to find time. Good news is, a full life = an interesting post.
Week 15 was my first full week in Cusco, and my first time seeing the city in light. Cusco is so cute, and so touristy. Walking through the main square, Plaza de Armas, to get to work is an adventure in politely but firmly saying no, gracias to the ten people trying to sell you something. Every day.
Luckily, I live a bit outside of the touristy area in San Blas, and have incredible views of the city. I also get to enjoy the cobblestones, narrow alleys and remnants of Inca life on my morning commute. Definitely doesn’t suck!
During the week, we had some awesome RY activities planned:
- A visit to the local planetarium, which features what is basically a hand-made pinwheel machine to demonstrate the southern hemisphere constellations, and three large telescopes through which I got my first-ever glimpse of Venus. Aside from star-gazing, we learned how the Incas used astronomy to determine weather patterns. For example: they knew an El Niño year was coming when the stars weren’t so bright during a certain time of year. We now know that the reason the stars aren’t bright is because the wind patterns during these years create atmospheric pressure and fog. Wild!
- Our Welcome Party, set in a mansion overlooking the city, which we all agreed was essentially what every Welcome Party should be from now on. We danced the night away, had great views of the city, and an all-around good time.
- The 100 Days of Remote Year celebration (which I did not attend). It’s so crazy to think that we are 100 days into this program. We’ve seen and experienced so much, and yet have so much left to go! Read Arestia and Kelly’s thoughts on their first 100 days.
- Mini girls’ night, featuring a Pisco Sour crawl in Cusco to taste the local grape spirit in conjunction with egg whites and bitters. Way better than it sounds. We visited Museo del Pisco and Republica del Pisco, two classics for getting these yummy drinks. I also tried a Chilcano, which is pisco with ginger ale, and made in a lot of different ways. I’ve gotten hooked on a spicy version of the Chilcano, and get it whenever I can.
The main event this week was that my boyfriend, Sean, came to visit me for the first time since being on this trip. Sean got here just as I finished up my first full week in Cusco, and immediately we jumped into sight-seeing before starting our Inca Trail 4-day trek next week.
We walked around the Plaza de Armas on Saturday, got Sean an alpaca sweater, and ate at Green Point with some indie music playing in the background. We also ran into some Remotes and joined them at Limbus, a rooftop bar with great views of Cusco. There were two musicians there playing 90’s covers (really well), and Sean got to meet a lot of my new friends. We ate dinner at Cicciolina, a popular tapas bar in Cusco. The food was incredible! We tried the house tapas, and alpaca, which was tender and tasty, and went out for a little to Wild Rover hostel, where a few Remotes were dancing the night away.
On Sunday, we slept in and then met up with some fellow Remotes at Valeriana, a café near our workspace. After a quick breakfast and the sweetest coffee I’ve ever had, we hopped on the Cusco Panoramic bus – a two-story, yellow bus, that for 20 soles ($6) takes you around Cusco for a few hours. While waiting for the bus to fill up, we recruited Kelly, who we saw walking on the street, innocently trying to go to the workspace to do work, bought hats from a vendor for $3, and sent an envoy to get champagne. Sunday, funday it is!
The bus took us to the hills above Cusco to see Cristo Blanco, or White Jesus, who towers over Cusco in a Rio-like (but less impressive) stance. We took panoramic pics and llama selfies, and enjoyed the beautiful weather. After, we drove past the Sacsayhuaman ruins, a famous site in Cusco and home to the Inti Raymi festival each year. Just seeing the Inca walls from afar was awe-inspiring, even though we didn’t have a chance to get off and explore.
We had another stop near a lake and learned more about the ritual of making a sacrifice to Pachamama, or mother Earth. Finally, one of the last stops was to learn about the difference between alpacas and llamas at a store, as well as about the clay bulls that guard the roofs of homes in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, bringing luck and prosperity to the home. Ever a mingling of Andean and Spanish cultures, these bulls now prominently feature a cross.
After the bus ride, we had lunch at a rooftop restaurant called Marcelo Batata, overlooking Cusco city and enjoying some delicious Peruvian favorites like causa (a layered potato and fish dish).
Later that night, we ate at Limo, another amazing Peruvian fusion restaurant, where I had my first taste of Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese fusion) with some delicious We also stopped into Republica del Pisco, making it just as Peru beat Brazil in an upset during the Copa America. The Chilcanos were spicy, the live music was great, and the vibe was jubilant – what more can you ask for?