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Saturday, July 13, 2013

From the heat of Iquitos to the frigid air of Cuzco, Peru

I shared a taxi with Kelly, the traveler I met the previous night, to the Iquitos airport since we were heading out at the same time. At the airport, we lost track of each other; however, I bumped into Alain and Soche (sp), the San Diego couple I had met at Otorongo. Small world!

I was heading to Cusco, with a connection in Lima. Although the flight to Lima was uneventful, the airport setup in Lima requires connecting passengers to exit the security area and re-enter again. With little time to spare, I rushed to get my boarding pass scanned at security, showed my passport, and showed my boarding pass again. It seemed like there was limited gate availability, because passengers were transferred to the plane by bus, boarding via the staircase up the plane.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but the snack served on the flight seemed to have been adapted to the higher presence of non-Latin American travelers. Instead of the usual plantains, we each got a brownie and potato chips.

The Cuzco airport exit was packed with tour operators, each trying to get the attention of the arriving passengers. It was also not heated, which I later found out is the case everywhere in Cusco, so I was freezing. I fished out my rain jacket, but the humidity of Iquitos had prevented it from drying properly, giving it a stink that made bearing the cold more tolerable.

Once outside, I quickly found a taxi driver. He wanted to charge me $20 USD, but I countered with 20 soles (~$7.5 USD). He then wanted 40 soles (~$15 USD), then 30 soles, then 25 soles. I finally budged and went with the 25 (~$9 USD). 

Unlike Iquitos, Cusco's streets were devoid of tuk-tuks - presumably because the cold makes driving / riding on an open air vehicle less than desirable. Like Iquitos, however, the Cusco streets were populated with a lot of security in what appeared to be anti-riot gear (I believe there was a protest the day before).

My first day in Cusco was another one of those lazy days. Once checked into Exopackers, I stopped by a cafe for coca tea to prevent any potential altitude sickness, followed by a visit to Sipan, a chifa located a couple blocks from the Plaza de Armas, for dinner.

Back at the hostel, I was ecstatic that there was hot water in the shower! However, there was no heat in the rooms (which fortunately had plenty of blankets).

More about Cusco in the next post...


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