Today was notably a more interesting day than yesterday. Yesterday was spent simply, sleeping in, wheeling and dealing with the local travel agents, light walking in Cusco, dinner, and bed. We even spoke with a few fellow travelers, one from Pennsylvania, one from our neck of the woods, Burlingame; one from Australia, and a couple from Toronto. We exchanged travel stories and parted ways. Just as it should be.
I think that Alin and I would have had a better time yesterday if we weren´t still adjusting to the high alititudes. Turning in early was ultimately the right decision, we both woke up this morning feeling much better.
A large part of yesterday was spent trying to negotiate a low price for a rafting trip we took today. There are dozens of travel agencies in Cusco all selling basically the same package. One agency, we were able to lower the price from $35 to $30 without much of a fight. Getting it down to $28 was pretty much impossible. We used all the great tactics used when shopping for a car. We stated our price, disagreed, argued, walked out, walked in, walked out, etc, etc. By the end of the day, we had thoroughly pissed off our agent and he finally said that tomorrow´s tour is cancelled and that he couldn´t help us.
That´s when Alin and I got up, walked down the block to their other office and told the agent that we were promised the deal for $30. She was more than helpful and booked our trip without much issue. We didn´t get the price we really wanted but that´s okay, it´s better than no trip at all. ;)
This morning, we headed out for our rafting trip at 9:00AM. We were set to meet the bus in front of the main office of our agent, and there was the guy we pissed off... AWKWARD. Alin and I avoided eye contact and made it on the bus without a word said.
The drive to the river was beautiful. There was the occasional cow in the road and amazing landscapes to keep us entertained. We made it to the launch point in almost two hours. I was expecting arriving at a house or something, no, we just pulled off the highway and launched out to the river within 20 minutes.
After some brief explanations of the rules for the river, we were on our way. Our boat was filled with our river guide and three bitchy French Canadians (surprise). The entire trip, they spoke nothing but French and gave us leering looks and distainful comments. I know we were being belittled and I didn´t even speak their language.
The river was exciting. There were lots of rapids and they had picked out several points where they basically drowned us in river water while taking photos to document the whole thing. Alin and I had a great time. There was even a point where we were asked to exit our boat because the river was too intense for us... However, when we got to the point where we needed to get back into our boat, we were asked to jump from a 10 foot rock into the freezing river. Alin made me do it first, but it was worth it so I could watch her do the jump her self. She screamed, but not quite as long as the time we jumped into the river from Devil´s Point in Santa Cruz, that time she had enough time to get out a few explitives on her way in.
After about 2 and a half hours of rowing forward and backward and side to side, we made it to the end. Not soon enough, if you ask me, my arms and stomach were tired.
They prepared a lunch for us on the roadside where we were thrilled to sit with our French Canadian counterparts. I could almost hear them critisizing the food in their heads. One of them decided to light up a cigarette, while we´re sitting on a table no more than 3 foot squared. Alin and I promptly left the table.
Soon after, gusts of wind blew down the mountain, as though a sign from god, and drenched the Canadians in dust. I was laughing on the inside.
Alin and I slept on the way back. We got to our hotel, showered and relaxed. At 6, our guide from tomorrow´s trek gave us the low down. After that, we headed out to town to go shopping for a few snacks and beanies and mittens for our trip tomorrow.
We had an excellent dinner at a small "Italian" restaurant. Alin and I shared a plate of spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. "ummm!" as they say here in Peru.
Now, we´re off to bed so we can be full rested for our trip tomorrow. We´re a little scared but looking forward to it none-the-less.
Ciao from Peru!