Saturday, March 14, 2015
Hola from the most hungover girl in Peru. I’m a sorry sight, laying in the fetal position in bed, occasionally rollin over to take a sip from my mug of hot tea water, which was easier to get to than bottled water. What cruel person put bottled water up a whole floor? How did I get here? And most importantly, where are my contacts?
It all started innocently enough. I woke up Friday morning and found Kevin and Collin chilling on beanbag chairs in the courtyard, taking advantage of the really good wifi. I asked them if they had eaten the hostel’s complimentary breakfast yet, and Collin had – turns out it’s nothing but bread and cereal. We decided to let chef Kevin take the reigns of the Pariwana kitchen and set off to find ingredients for him to cook with.
We ventured out, and a few blocks down the road stumbled into Marcado San Pedro, a large artisanal market filled with food, crafts, clothing, and juice vendors. Wandering through the aisles, we collected six eggs, a bundle of cilantro, a bag of limes, three plantains, a wheel of cheese, a loaf of bread, and some tomatoes, all for SUPER cheap.
We also could not resist the siren song and waving menus of the three rows of juice vendors, who smiled at us as we worked our way through the aisle. We arbitrarily chose a vendor and seated ourselves in front of a display of vibrant fruits. I ordered the orange pineapple mango juice, and the woman immediately started peeling mangos, juicing oranges, and otherwise working her magic. The juice she gave me was SO GOOD that I was devastated when I was finished, until she tapped me on the shoulder and produced MORE JUICE. She made enough for three glasses worth. I was in heaven.
The good times didn’t end there: we had Kevin’s cooking to look forward to! Using what we bought and the communal ingredients available in the kitchen, he whipped up fried plantains with sugar, scrambled eggs with cilantro and cheese, a tomato-cilantro-lime salsa, and a side of bread and cheese. It was amazing, and everyone else in the hostel was beyond jealous.
Full from our brunch, we set off on our day’s adventure – a hike up to Sacsayhuaman (Temple of the Sun) and Cristo Blanco. When I say a hike up, I quite literally mean UP – once we got past Plaza de Armas, it was all stairs and steep uphill, which I have come to expect from Peru. Altitude STILL hurts.
We ignored the hordes of locals hawking photos with alpacas, horseback tours, and taxi rides, and headed into the Sacsayhuaman area. The temple, once you get there past the thousands of stairs, is awesome! The whole thing is composed of chunks of stone that the Incans carved so that they would fit together tightly without mortar. The temple was once covered with plates of gold, but when the Spanish invaded, Francisco Pizarro had them removed and used them to pay off Spanish debt. The story of Peru is very sad.
Sufficiently enlightened, we set off to our next destination: Cristo Blanco. It was exactly what it sounds like – white Christ – like a small scale version of the Brazilian Christ the Redeemer. Selfies with Jesus were fun, and since it was even higher up than Sacsayhuaman, the views were great. We surveyed Cusco from the top for about 30 minutes before heading down.
Wanting to make the most of our S/.70 tourist tickets, we headed to a few museums from there – Museo de Sitio Qoricancha and Museo Historico Regional. Pictures weren’t allowed at either, but we had fun learning about Incan history and making fun of the fact that they could do so much but couldn’t figure out THE WHEEL.
Following our excursion, we were starving, and began our daily hunt for a menu del día. Unfortunately for us it was only 4:30 PM and no one was serving dinner yet. Not a problem, this just meant it was time for Kevin and Collin to get Peruvian haircuts!
We found a men’s hair salon on the street, and the barbers actually did a great job for only S/.4 ($1.33)! Collin tried to tip his guy and gave him S/.10, and the man thought he was insane. Life here is SO cheap.
By this point we were REALLY hungry, so we headed into Marcado San Pedro to see if we could find a menu del día at one of their restaurants. The first one we stumbled upon offered dinner for S/.6, so we sat down and dug into piping hot bowls of lentil soup. Our entree options were papa reline (stuffed potato) and corazon saltado (stir fried heart?!). Kevin and Collin got the heart (…) and I got the potato (duh). It was stuffed with olives, peppers, ham, egg, and other unidentifiable substances. I picked out the eggs (yuck), but other than that it was great! As usual, it was served with papas fritas (more potatoes!!) and salad.
We headed back to the hostel and were bombarded with staff as soon as we walked in, asking us to sign up for the Pariwana barbecue at 8:30 PM. Full, we politely declined, and I kicked back in a beanbag chair while Collin showered and Kevin went back to the room. He came out a bit later with a blonde girl, Marie, from Belgium. She was so cool! She asked us all about America – whether it’s like the movies (all football, cheerleaders, and red solo cups) and then we agreed to go out together that night. Kevin and I headed upstairs to guzzle coffee in preparation for a long night.
Post-coffee, we grabbed three beers and brought one to Collin, who was napping in our room. He insisted on finishing his nap first, so we headed outside to join Marie, who was sitting with a few other hostelers. We met Nils from Germany and Lile from Australia. We were joined shortly by Collin, Lile’s friend Emily (also Australian) and Nils’ friend Steph from Switzerland. We were having a blast drinking LOTS of beer, when the rest of the gang headed upstairs to partake in the barbecue. Kevin, Collin, and I just kept drinking.
Like returned shortly with reports that the food was gross and that Nils was really creepy. Neither statement was surprising. We started a game of Kings, incorporating our friends one by one as they made their way back downstairs. Eventually we played the last card and headed out to Paddy’s Irish Pub in Plaza de Armas.
We. Drank. So. Much. Between 5ish beers at the hostel, 2 vodka-orange (3 for Collin) at Paddy’s, and a Bailey’s-Kahlua shot courtesy of Lile, we were hammered wen it was time to leave Paddy’s for our next destination – The Temple Club.
The only problem was that none of us knew where Temple was. We wandered, aimless and drink, through the streets of Cusco, until a woman came up to us with Temple wristbands that would get us in for free AND get us free drinks. Then, she led us to the club! WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
Temple, or what I remember of it, was SO much fun. ALL dancing. Lile made sure we never DIDN’T have a drink in our hands. One girl got up on the bar, and that was the end. Every girl in the club was clambering to get on the bar, except Emily and I (we had lost Marie). I knew for a fact I would fall off if I tried to get up, but Kevin and Lile took it upon themselves to carry us over to and onto the bar. Once I got up there, it was fun, and the last thing I remember is getting off the bar. Then, I woke up. The rest of this story is Kevin’s retelling.
Apparently, we stayed for a few more hours and ended up leaving around 2:30 AM. We still couldn’t find Marie (she made it home ok!), Kevin had to pry me away from my DFM (oops), and the guys tried to stop at the casino next to our hostel on the way home but were denied. Kevin forced himself to drink tea and hydrate before bed, but then when he couldn’t find his toothpaste, he brushed his teeth with Doritos. As he was brushing his teeth, he could hear Lile puking in a bathroom stall. I remembered to take out my contacts, but put the case in Kevin’s locker (he just found them, thank God).
In the battle of Peru vs. Hoos, Peru won. Go hoos.