Winnie goes to Peru / Machu Picchu

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After getting laid off from Transmeta, I got on LA601 to fly to Lima, Peru.  There was a crazy woman with scary red hair on the plane with us.  She would not sit down when the plane was taking off and had a bleeding chin shortly after take off.  When the drink carts came out, she followed one of the carts from the beginning of the aisle to the end.  She drank her drinks quickly and kept asking for refills as soon as she was done.  It was quite a funny sight.  She also wore a huge silver ring with a huge setting for a huge rock...except the rock was missing.

The plane ride was lonely as no one spoke English around me.  At the final hour of the trip, the guy next to me switched seats with the guy next to him, who spoke some English.  His name was Miguel Angel (like Michaelangelo).  He was born and raised in Lima and was plenty friendly.  He even offered me a ride to my hostel.  I thanked him and told him that I missed my boyfriend a lot.  We talked some more and he gave me a name & number of a friend he has in Cusco who could help me if I ran into trouble there.


I arrived in Lima, Peru.  A beautiful woman sitting not far from me on the plane (but not close enough for me to talk to), told me that Peru has a particular smell as she sniffed deeply.  "When my aunt visits me in the states, her luggage smells like this", she said.  I sniffed and I could not smell anything different (but my luggage does have a permanent smell to it now).  She told me that she lives in LA and her cousin is getting married in Peru.  She also assured me that I will love Peru and will come back again and again.  I did not realize what she meant until later.

Jose Oswaldo, a short , stubby, but very kind looking man in his 50s, held up a huge sign with my name written on it.  I was glad that he did not look like a freak.  "Your the bear? no?"  He drove very well and got me to my hostel safely.  Along the way, there were tons of casinos with bright neon lights.  He said the city never sleeps.  

Here we are at Hotel Imperele in Lima, Miraflores.  The rooms were $34 a night.  The lobby had a lot of eccentric paintings and art items.  It was very colorful and warm.  The hotel was owned by a half French, half Peruvian guy.  There is a little restaurant next to the lobby that's really cute.  The staff, though, was less than helpful.  They somehow did not order our plane tickets to Cusco and tried to blame Danielle for having an expired credit card.  (More to follow on 7/19)  I arrived around 1:30am and asked for a wake up call at 11am.  The front desk boy said, "you don't want breakfast?"  I shook my head.  "You sure you don't want breakfast?"  He looked confused.

My room the 1st night I was in Lima

Bathroom-The 'C' of the faucet is on the left hand side for  Hot in Spanish


In the a.m. of 7/19, I woke up a little before 11 and lay in bed, waiting for my morning call.  I got out of bed at 11:15 without the morning call.  At around 11:50, after my shower and dressed, the phone rang.  "Oh, have you gotten up?"

I checked out of my small room and moved into the spiffy suite for 3 people ($32 per person per night).  It was bright and pretty.  I liked it o-plenty.

After checking in, I had lunch in the restaurant next to the lobby.  The receptionist, a different person from the one from the previous night, looked at me with an odd look, "you don't want breakfast?"  I was beginning to think that I was offending them.  I ordered baked fish with french fries and a (non)Sprite.  It was delicious but more costly than I thought it would be in Peru ($22 was my bill).

I then asked the front desk for direction to an internet cafe.  She pointed a direction but was not very clear.  I walked where she pointed for quite a while but did not see such a cafe.  I finally gave up and stopped at a book shop and asked for direction with sign language since I don't speak a word of Spanish.  Do you believe that I managed to find the cafe, got me a terminal, and ordered a bottled water 'con gas' while I was there?  Pretty impressive for a non-spanish speaking person, huh?

By the time I got out of the cafe, it was close to the time Danielle said she would be meeting me at the hotel.  I walked back and waited in the room.  The T.V show 'Friends' was on with Spanish sub-titles.  I watched that for a little bit until I fell asleep.  Danielle and her digging friend from Casma, Kathy, finally arrived 3.5 hrs late.  It turned out that their driver got pulled over 7 times!!!  After bribing the cops with cigarette money, he got lost in Lima as he has never been to Lima before.

So, the front desk did not have our plane tickets to Cusco.  We decided to try our luck and go to the airport 6:30 in the morning for stand-by tickets.  The front desk receptionist said that was a bad idea and we would never get on.  We decided to try anyway.  By the way, Danielle's credit card does not expire until 2006.

We had dinner at the little restaurant again.  This time, I had spagetti with crab meat.  Mmmm....yummy!

The suite Danielle, Kathy, and I shared in Lima

Kathy's bed in the suite in Lima

The thing that washes your butt after you go in the suite in Lima

The bathroom in the room in the suite in Lima

Pretty mirror in the suite's bathrom


We got up really really really early (4:30am).  Jose Oswaldo came and picked us up.  We told him about the plane tickets.  He said that the hotel could have ordered tickets for us up until 10pm the previous night and was shocked that they did not offer to do that.  He then picked up his walkie talkie / phone and ordered 3 plane tickets to Cusco right then and there.  We were so glad that we ran into him!

When we arrived in Cusco, we met Miriam.  She was 8 months pregnant and running a tourist stand at the airport.  She made all our plans for the next few days and got us a ride to the hostel we were staying at.  In retrospect, we paid a little much for her tours, but in the end, it was all worth it.

We flew above the clouds and saw the mountain peaks

Clouds and mountian peaks above them

Clouds and mountian peaks above them

Snow Peaks on the way to Cusco

More snow peaks on the way to Cusco

All snow

All snow

Our view from our hostel's room in Cusco

Danielle and Kathy drinking coca tea--for the elevation sickness, of course!

Coca tea

The only Catheral in Cusco (but there are 19 churches)

Entrance to our hostel in Cusco

The Catheral with a different view

The Catheral again

The Catheral again

Street in Cusco

A fountain that used to be covered in gold and flowed corn beer

The view from the Catheral

I don't know what the little rocks are and I never found out because our tour guide sucked donkey's ass

Peruvian houses from the top of the Catheral

The trapazoid doorway --structure allows it to withstand earthquakes

From the Catheral's courtyard

Trapazoid doorways

Sacrificial table for llamas

A small rock that was placed there at a later date due to earthquake damage; people all touched it because they believed that it would bring them good luck, that's why it's black

Traditional clothing in Peru; they were asking anyone who took their pictures for money

Church in Cusco; tons of paintings and statues went unexplained because our tour guide sucked ass

Entrance to the church in Cusco

The Catheral

Cusco town center

At the steps of the church in Cusco

A big house on the way to Saqsaywaman (sounds like sexy woman)



Big rocks at Saqsawaman

More pictures from Saqsawaman



Saqsewaman--fascinating, isn't it?!

This little hill appeared to have deep scratch marks on it.  As you know, this is still the same tour guide (who sucked), so we didn't get any info on it








City of Cusco from Saqsewaman

City of Cusco from Saqsewaman

A doorway at Saqsewaman

Peruvian women and their llamas

Peruvian women and their llamas

Peruvian women and their llamas

Peruvian women and their llamas and vendors

Peruvian weaving



Pukapukara-I just thought the rock was funny looking


Seats in front of 'theater' at Pukapukara

Winnie sitting in seat

Pukapukara - sound bit

Water hole from Tambomachay--some say that the water makes you fertile - sound bit

Saqsaywaman at night; I haven't perfected my night picture skills with my camera yet - sound bit

Same as before - sound bit

Peruvian pizzas at Chez Maggie--there were about 6 Chez Maggie on the same street

My lamb with white potatoes; there was a band playing music at the restaurant while we dined.  When they were done playing, each of the band members came up to each of us and gave us a peck on our cheeks.  No one else was fortunate enough at the restaurant!  :o)


Danielle and I got up really early again in the morning to catch a 6am train to Agua Calinetes.  Since we were running out of cash and an ATM was not very accessible (the hostel we were staying at only accepted cash), we took our big luggage and left it at another hostel that accepts credit card for the one night that we would spend in Cusco when we came back from Agua Calientes.  As we were ready to leave, the 8 month pregnant Miriam the tour planner was already there waiting for us.  She got us a ride and went to the train station with us, got us in the right line, and waved us goodbye like a mother would.  The train was supposed to be the classy kind.  It was clean and they provided one meal but it was EXTREMELY cold!  I finally took out my towel and wrapped Danielle and my legs in it.

Thanks to Danielle, I got the window seat.  Along the way, I saw how most Peruvians really lived.  Children were up already working in the fields, tending to animals or younger siblings.  People were fetching water.  Some houses had broken windows that were boarded up like the ones you would see in the wrong side of Chicago.  There were lots of dirty dogs and some houses had cuy (guinea pigs) running in their yards.  Of the animals, I saw pigs, cows, sheep, guinea pigs, chickens, dogs, and more dogs.  

We got to Agua Calientes around 10am.  With our small luggage, we immediately walked to the bus station that would take us to Machu Picchu.  We passed a market going to the bus station and Danielle all of a sudden pulled on my sleeve and said, "watch out, that weird guy is calling our names."  Too much coca leaves made Danielle delusional, I thought.  Why would any one be calling OUR names in the middle of a market in Agua Calientes?  I listened carefully ..."Danielle-ly Johnsonnnn!  Winnie Poo!  Signor Williams!"  He WAS calling our names!  We contemplated whether we should catch up with him and ask who he is with (we made reservation at one hostel but wanted to switch; we didn't know if he was from the hostel or not).  As we were about to get on a bus, he came close to us and we finally told him that we were Danielle-ly Johnsonnnn and Winnie Poo.  He was responsible for getting us a tour guide for Machu Picchu.  This time, we got a great tour guide.

We had lunch at the expensive hotel up on Machu Picchu ($22 buffet).  The food was fairly good but not $22 good.  After lunch, we went back into the park, picked a spot, sat and stared, and wrote in our journals.  As 4pm approached, we got on a bus and headed back to Agua Calientes.

The bus route zig zagged the mountain.  Everytime we made a turn at a zig zag, there was a little boy waiting for us at the corner screaming "I am faster than you!" in Spanish.  As we made more zig zags, people started to stand up in the bus looking for the boy.  When we got to the bottom of the mountain, the little boy, in his Incan outfit, climbed on the bus with a tip bag asking us for money.  It was quite a creative way to make money, I thought.  He then bid his good bye with a full head of sweat and climbed off again.

We checked into Hostel Cabana and had dinner at the Cabana Restaurant.  I ordered spagetti and it smelled like feet.  I didn't eat it.  The waiter was cute, though.  

Some houses some Peruvians live in on the way to Cusco

More Peruvian houses as seen from the train

Mountain peaks on the way to Cusco

@ Machu Picchu--this one is called the half mountain

Another shot of the half mountain

Half mountain with the little river below

Some of the living quarters at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Living quarters for the lower rank Incans

A house (I don't remember)

Half mountain

Inca Trail up above

Community with a ceremonial house in the middle and a field for play

Living quarters for the higher ranked Incans

Incan community

Baby Picchu (mountain; that's really what they call it)

Temple of the sun

Hidden royal quarter with sacrificial table inside and 3 steps up to the table

Princess quarter with 2 levels (upper level for wood storage to keep warm)

Living quarter for the lower class

Inside the princess quarter

Door way in the second level that gives access to wood

Just the view

Open field for gathering and play

Priests' quarters

Snow peaks behind the mountains at Machu Picchu

Another shot at the field

Another shot at the Priests' quarters

The "New" Picchu (mountain)

Little lizard on top of the wall

Temple of the Sun -- no access inside

Another shot of the Temple of the Sun

The ceremonial center that's falling apart; govn't is corrupt and say that there isn't enough money to fix this

3-5,000 visitors vist Machu Picchu per day during high season; there should be plenty of $ to fix this (or to feed the kids)

Snow peaks behind the green mountains

River in the Valley (takes two dangerous hours to get there by foot from top of Machu Picchu)

Priests' quarters

Priests' quarters

Field for play and gatherings

Pretty Machu Picchu

Unfinished sun dial



The building by the field

I will have to refresh my memory on this one


The head of the condor-Machu Picchu was built based on the condor and Lima was built based on the puma

Left wing of the condor

Right wing of the condor

Very tight places I had to go through

Incan community


The field again

The picture that we thought was turned sideways but actually had a face of an Indian if you looked closer (also the back of Michael the waiter)


Danielle woke up in the morning and realized that she had left her camera at the restaurant we ate at the night before.  We went back to look for it, but of course, it was gone (not even Michael, the cute waiter, could put a smile on her face).  Luckily, she had just started a new roll of film and there were only a few shots made.  The hostel owner, Martha, was very nice.  She looked everywhere with Danielle and called the credit card companies to find out if Danielle needed to cancel her credit cards (she had copies of her credit cards in the camera case).  In the end, we gave up.  We left our luggage at the hostel and went for a hike to this waterfall we heard about.  Martha gave us the general direction and it turned out that we had to hike on the railroad tracks!!!  She assured us that it was okay.  We went.

We did not realized how long we had to hike on the tracks!  To either side of the tracks were about 4 feet wide areas that we could squish together to avoid the train.  Beyond the 4 feet were mountain walls or cliffs.  It was quite scary and we had to dodge the train a few times.  We hiked for about 2 hours and came to a house where an old lady sat.  She told us that it would cost us 1 sol to enter and see the waterfall.  By this time, we were so frustrated and annoyed that we walked away even though the price was not high.  We will just keep believing that the waterfall couldn't have been as beautiful as falls in Hawaii or Yosemite.  :o)

On the way back, I had an asthma attack.  I did not have my medicine with me as I never take my asthma seriously (I have only had 4 or 5 attacks in my life).  I thought I left the medication in the hostel we are staying at in Cusco but later found out that I didn't bring them on my trip at all!  They were sitting on Tommy's dinner table at his house the whole time.  Any way, Danielle was very patient with me.  We walked slowly and stopped often.  When we finally saw the town again, we found a little restaurant and sat down.  There, I had my first sip of Inca Cola.  It tasted like vanilla soda and smelled like Wrigly's Juicy Fruit.  We had pizza and even shared a slice with one of the German guys at the next table.  We also had some avocado stuffed with chicken salad that was really good.

After lunch, we went back to Hostel Cabana for our stuff.  As we left, the kind Martha gave us each a very nicely made ceramic owl for good luck.  She said we needed it.

Later that afternoon, we took the train back to Cusco.  When we got off the train, I asked Danielle if she thought Miriam would be there waiting for us.  Sure enough, there she was with her 8 month old baby in her tummy!

It was Kathy's birthday and she asked us to work with her as she had a surprise for her.  She said that Peruvians drink hot chocolate on birthdays and she had bought a cake and made some hot chocolate for us!  We were shocked at how nice she was.    

When we had our cake and ate it, too, we went out to look for a restaurant with music.  The first restaurant we wanted to try was closed as it was approaching 10pm.  We went back to the main square and stopped to buy some paintings from some art students.  When we finally made the deal, we were staving and most restaurant were band-less.  We walked into this restaurant that Kathy heard was good.  She mentioned that it was her birthday and asked if there was music.  The waiter said the band was done at 9pm.  Then he said, "you may fall in love with the music but not the band.  The music is beautiful but the band members are Incans so they are ugly."  We laughed and sat down at a table.  The waiter brought us some red wine (free) to celebrate Kathy's birthday and disappeared.  A moment later, he showed up with the band!  It was amazing how nice these people were!  The band played the pan pipes, flute, drums, guitar, and a smaller guitar and sang. The music was beautiful and they were not ugly.  After they were done, they tried to sell us CDs.  I told them I had just lost my job.  They looked at me compassionately and told me that everything will be okay.  As they left, we were again kissed by each of the band members.  The waiters all kissed us, too, when we got done eating.  Below is the cuy I ate (it had a screaming head with teeth and eyeballs...quite unpleasant...I had to decapitate it at one point in order to finish eating it.  FYI: it tasted like chicken).  

Mountain view on our way to the waterfall we never saw

Mountain view on our way to the waterfall we never saw

River that runs along side of Agua Calientes

Shy black and red butterfly

Big cave in the mountain top in Agua Calientes for tree gnomes

Funny rock that looks like it had been worked on--there is a sun on it

Funny rocks on the way to the waterfall we never found

Railway we hiked ON to find the secret waterfall

The first house we saw at the beginning of the Amazon jungle, no monkeys were there.  :o(

Pretty rushing river along the way to the waterfall we never saw

Birthday cake from our kind tourist coordinator, Miriam.

Miriam, Kathy (Danielle's friend from the digging trip in Casma; also the B-day girl), Miriam's husband

Cuy (coo-ee); special guinea pig dish in Peru; you are looking at his back


We flew back to Lima and left Kathy in Cusco.  Upon arrival in Lima, we put our luggage in lockers and took a very long taxi ride to the Gold Museum.  It was not as jazzy as the tour book said it would be.  The mummies there, however, were plenty cool!  After a tour around the museum, we took a non-taxi (an orange VW Ghia driven by a non taxi driver looking to make a living) back to Miraflores.  Before we went to do some last minute shopping, we stopped at the Bellagio, a casinio and restaurant, for some food and drinks.  It was delicious.  However, we went there because they said they accepted credit cards.  When we were ready to pay, they did not accept credit cards any more.  Luckily, we had enough cash for the bill but had to make another trip to the bank for more cash.  

At 8:30pm, we decided that even though our flight did not leave until 1:05 in the morning, we could just go to the airport early and relax.  Boy, were we glad we left Miraflores when we did!!!  We got to the airport at around 9pm.  It seemed like everyone and their families were leaving Peru that Tuesday night, Wednesday morning!  We stood in different lines for at least 2 and a half hours!  We then sat down at a restaurant and ate something quickly and ran to the gate.  Of course, the flight was an hour late.  Danielle fell asleep while I watched people.

Special Incan guy

Danielle writing a thank you note to the guy who gave her the schlorship to Casma

Our paella (someone please tell me the correct spelling)

...with seafood

...with a restaurant where they said they accepted credit cards but did not when we were done

There were many little things that were annoying and frustrating in Peru, but I was too laid back to care.  Lima is not so pretty, but Cusco was incredible.  Machu Picchu...Machu Picchu was just beyond words.  This is definitely a place that I will visit again and again.  The people there really made all the difference.