Friday, March 13, 2015
Hello from the Pariwana Hostel in Cusco, Peru! Life’s great here, save for the fact that I can barely go down stairs because my calves hurt so badly.
Once we got off the train yesterday, we sought out a collectivo to take us from Ollantaytambo to Cusco. Amid the flock of drivers hocking collectivo and taxi rides, a man approached us with an offer to take us for S/.70. Collin used his negotiating skills to haggle him down to 60. 1.5 hour taxi ride for less than $7 each? I’ll take it!
The ride from Ollantaytambo to Cusco is beautiful. Mountains, valleys, cows, and donkeys galore. The scenery itself is enough to entertain you for a 1.5 hour drive, but we got even luckier, and Collin became BFFs with the driver using his improving Spanish. The driver showed us his hometown, told us about his children, and taught us about Peruvian culture and current events. Kevin and I were even able to practice some Spanish!
The driver told us about a soccer game in Cusco that night, but we realized we would be a bit late, so we’ve decided to go to the 11 AM game on Sunday instead. We mentioned that we were hungry after hiking, and it turned out the driver’s oldest daughter, who is 26 and one of four kids, is a chef in Cusco! He dropped us off in front of her restaurant, Paititi, which is in the Plaza de Armas near our hostel. She even came out to greet us! However, after examining the menu, we deemed the restaurant too expensive. Even the menu del día was S/.36! (Note: it’s amazing how $13 is now TOO expensive for a nice meal. What will we do back in the US?!)
We made our way to the Pariwana Hostel to check in before heading to dinner. The hostel is dope. Comfy beds, warm covers, “activities” every night, and a spacious courtyard with tons of beanbag chairs. We dropped our things off, claimed our beds, rented towels, and set off for dinner.
Collin had spotted a promising restaurant on the way to our hostel, and sure enough, the menu del día was only S/.9! We sat inside, and within seconds the waiter presented us with bowls of sopa criolla (basically, spicy broth with spaghetti noodles and some sort of beef – I LOVE all the broth here!). These waiters were speed DEMONS, literally running between the tables and the kitchen. We ordered our main dishes and some coffee (all three of us got pollo – adventurous). The chicken came out before we even finished our soup (except Kevin, who we have decided can eat soup really fast because he’s Asian). The chicken was topped with an orange sauce that I thought was nacho cheese until Collin started freaking out. “OH MY GOD IT’S ORANGE JUICE CHICKEN!!!!” he alerted the rest of the restaurant. But he was rightly excited, it was SO GOOD. Best thing ever and a great way to revive us from our long day.
Before we could finish our meals, the speedy waiters brought out dessert, little pots of what looked like chocolate pudding. But it was warm… and bitter… and not very chocolatey. It was actually really good though, especially paired with our coffee! The coffee was actually more of a make-your-own americano: a triple-shot of espresso served with three cups of hot water. I felt SO much better after dinner and a shower (HOT, unlike at Supertramp, thank goodness).
I was all set to go to bed after I showered, but we decided to unwind upstairs with some beers and blackjack. This is when we discovered that we could charge all of our drinks to the room, and now I’m really scared to pay our bill.
While upstairs, we somehow got roped into joining a beer pong tournament. Collin and Kevin, never ones to turn down a competition, signed up. Like all great BP games at hostels that want to take your money, we had to buy our own beer.
Team Hoos/USA was pitted against team Argentina (two SUPER cute guys with even cuter accents). Team Argentina had never played BP before. We still lost. We blame it on the lack of red solo cups and the different rules that would not allow Collin to be on fire.
Post-defeat, we retreated to bed. Till next time! Who knows what Cusco will bring.