Monday, August 7, 2006

Off to Cusco...

This morning, we had a most interesting time getting to Cusco. Alin and I woke up, as we had hoped to do, at 6:30 and were out the door at exactly 7AM. We made our way down to the hotel breakfast, where we grabbed some bread, cheese, and meat for a quick breakfast.

Afterwards, we grabbed our bags and threw them in the back seat of our rental car. I hop in the driver´s seat, put in they key, and turn. Nothing. I turn the key again. Nothing. Panic sets in. The car refuses to start, sitting there lifeless. It appeared that the battery was completely dead and there was no way around it. Alin and I get out of the car and she suggests we go inside and call Budget to find out what to do. The hotel front desk calls a few times, and we finally get through to our English speaking Budget representative.

We explained the situation and asked him for guidance on what to do next. He kept insisting that the rental car would have to come back to the airport to be returned. We kept explaining that the car is not moving and there´s nothing we can do. He asked us to hold on, at which point he made several phone calls and let us know that a tow truck was on it´s way. Unfortunately, that didn´t do much to placate our panic. We were now 2 hours and a half hours away from our flight and no where near the airport.

Fortunately, our flight to Cusco was on LAN airlines. They offered Online Check-ins to their flights, and Alin was able to get our boarding passes printed with the help of our Hotel clerk. About 15 minutes later, the tow truck arrived and confirmed our suspicions, the battery was dead. He was able to get the car started for us, and he graciously offered to follow us to the airport in case the car stalled or stopped along the way.

We were finally on the road. We headed out to the express way, which our tow truck driver showed us, and within 25 minutes arrived at the airport.

As we pulled into the temporary parking area, where the rental agencies stored their cars, the police had set up a baracade and were reviewing each driver´s documents. To our great misfortune, our officer did not speak of lick of English, and to his misfortune, we spoke little to no Spanish. After 10 minutes of gesticulating and uttering words unfamiliar to us, we figured out that he was asking us for my driver´s license. After a quick scan, we were on our way.

We did our once around the parking lot and could not find the entrance to our rental car return. Finally, we pulled up to a closed off driveway, where a guard was keeping watch. With the help of our tow truck driver, we were able to gain entrance. After another 10 minutes or so of inspecting our car for any damages, we were waved on to the Budget counter where we paid our dues and ran off to our gate.

Alin and I were ran off upstairs, found the Airport Tax station, paid our dues, got in line for security and arrived at our gate at exactly 9:25AM, right when our flight was supposed to board.

The flight to Cusco was uneventful. Alin researched places to stay in Cusco while I passed my time with Sudoku. When we landed, we didn´t know what to expect from the altitude change.

As we deboarded, we felt comfortable. The air was noticably thinner, but we were feeling fine. We exited the airport after being harassed by 20 travel soliciters trying to get us to stay at one hotel or another. Alin was able to talk down a taxi driver for a lower fare and he drove us to central Cusco. Along the way, he asked us if we had a place to stay, what we were planning to spend. This seemingly unimportant small talk turned into yet another solicitation. Our driver had driven us directly to the door of a hostel in Cusco.

After a quick tour, we remained unimpressed. Alin and I insisted our disinterest in the rooms and walked off to check out the places on our list of hotels. We found a place within 20 minutes and were checked into our room.

Up until this point, we felt great. But once we had checked into our room, both Alin and I began feeling ill. It was as though something just came over us. For the next 3 hours, we laid in bed, feeling weak, light headed, and dizzy. At 4:00, we forced ourselves out of bed with the hopes of finding a place to grab a light lunch. We walked down the street and found a small pizzaria.

Alin and I shared two small pizzas, drinks, and a slice of slightly stale chocolate cake. Poor Alin remained ill throughout, and is only now starting to feel a little better.

After breakfast, we walked around the main plaza, checked out some of the wares the street vendors offered up. We finally made our way down to a local market where we picked up sandwich fixin´s for the next 2 days.

We´re finally starting to overcome our touch of Alitude sickness, but it´s still a challenge walking for long periods. I´m curious whether we´ll feel more acclimated tomorrow. I hope so, we want to get the most of out of our time in Cusco and the clock is ticking...

That´s it for today. Ciao!



  1. Go go gadget Steve! And Alin! Post some pictures too next time :)


  2. wow! you two are like professional world travellers now! Alin rocks for getting you a better place to stay!