Peru Travel Diaries: Cusco to Arequipa

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(Sorry in advance, this is probably going to be boring. As my semi-public travel journal, I try to recapture all my travel memories out here for my own enjoyment and nostalgia)


The view from my balcony at Hostal Los Ninos

Everyone left the morning after Machu Picchu to go to Lima before heading back to the states. I stayed in Cusco since I planned on moving on to Arequipa, Puno (Lake Titicaca), and then onto Bolivia and (hopefully) Argentina for the next two months. I was sad to see everyone go, but I definitely appreciated my time with everyone. Hopefully we’ll all keep in touch in some way. After Machu Picchu, I had to rest my tired and extremely sore body (my calves and quads were completely shot) for a day or so. I wanted (in theory) to see the temples at Pisac, Saqsaywaman, and the others, but…after all that we had experienced on the Inca Trail, I decided that a change of scenery would be a good idea. So I went up the street to see a new hostel on la calle Fierro. P1000322

The first hostel I found was El Hostal Los Ninos. It’s funny – as I entered the front patio, I immediately felt better about life. The sun was shining brightly for the first time in a long time, and the design of the building was just too serene. I guess it’s a northern European design, since the owner of the hostel (who also runs a program for homeless Peruvian kids on the property) is Dutch. It looked like a cafe in Oakland’s Rockridge district, or in Noe Valley in SF.



The front desk guy (an incredibly adorable kid with a faux hawk) met me and took me to my “apartment” room up the street. In the courtyard of the apartment building, the Hostal Los Ninos kids babbled excitedly as they played games and read books. In my room above their courtyard patio, blue and white paint covered the wooden floorboards, walls, and cabinet areas. I had two beds to myself, a lot of floor space, a huge open cabinet, a table, and a balcony that looked out over la Calle Fierro. It was just what I needed after a hectic-ass 4 days. I unpacked, hung my wet clothes on the balcony to dry, and immediately knocked out.

* * * * *

The next two days were chill ass (AKA kinda boring) days for me. I mostly ran errands (bought a cell phone, washed my clothes, made travel plans, mailed packages of my stuff back to the States) and looked for good local Cusceno food. I eventually found a few restaurants on La Calle Belen that sold typical Peruvian “comidas” – a soup to start, and a segundo plato of tallarin (Peruvian-style spaghetti), estofada (stew), o cualquier cosa que cocina el restaurante. For some reason, I had the tallarin both days; it was pretty damn good.


El Segundo: Tallarin con carne

El Segundo: Tallarin con carne

Many places like Cusco are inundated with European/American food restaurants – I guess to cater to las turistas. At the same time, cultures here mezcla un poco. Since potatoes are a staple of Peru, many dishes have either papas or papas fritas (fries) alongside their meat dishes. Many places also sell “chaufa” or Chinese-Peruvian style fried rice (AKA “chow fan”), which is comedy, but sometimes pretty tasty. I’ve made it a point to try out a few Chinese restaurants in Peru, and I have to say – Peruvians LOVE their Chinese(y) food here. On my second night in Cusco, I transferred to a cheaper hostel up La Calle Fierro, called Hostal Magico. Many European and American volunteers come there to stay, where they go out and run programs for some of the children in Cusco. All in all, I have to say that I’ve loved the hospitality of the hostales that I’ve visited. Great people with great hearts. They might not know where to find everything in Cusco, but they do their best to help out and be kind. P1000357

By my second day in Cusco, I really wanted to get out of the rain, hail and cold that hit the city every other hour – I was ready for the warmer climate of Arequipa. But before I left, I made it a point to visit the Museum of Pre-Incan Art. It was pretty dope. Besides breaking down the art and lifestyles of every Pre-Incan group of people (in both Spanish and Engrish), it has some amazing displays and artifacts. My favorite were the little people carved out of Turquoise stone, and the mini llamas made out of silver that were used as offerings to gods. Unfortunately they won’t let you take photos in that part of the exhibit, so I guess I’ll just have to google it for the memories.

* * * * *

Lonely Planet has a lot of warnings about traveling through South America.  One big one was “don’t take overnight buses” . While you do save time (and money, since you don’t have to pay for a night’s stay at a hostel), they tend to be on the dangerous side. Sleepyness, long routes, high mountain highways, and altitude lead to catastrophic accidents from time to time. It pays to get the more expensive and nicer buses, but even those aren’t immune from accidents. After my third day in Cusco, I took an 8 pm to 6 am Cruz Del Sur bus to Arequipa. I have to say that I was a little bit apprehensive about the journey. It’s hard to sleep when you know your bus (albeit a nice one) is driving through dark mountain roads with absolutely no external lighting. Every time the bus jerked or slowed down to a stop, I imagined the bus tipping over the edge of some mountain cliff. Oh yeah – one other thing – they say it’s better to get a seat in the back of the bus, perhaps because you’re more likely to avoid bus robberies and possibly get less hurt if the bus does crash into a valley.

* * * * *


Sunrise on the way to Arequipa

Fortunately, our bus made it safely to Arequipa – and on time. After retrieving my giant backpack, I found a taxi that was down to take me to a hostel – or so I thought. As we approached it, we found the gates closed. “Tienes una reservacion?” he asked me. I said no. So I paid him a little bit more to try another couple of hostels on La Calle Rivero, on the other side of downtown. He was really sweet about it. Even though I was some dumb ass tourist, he made sure to wait until the next hostel opened their doors to me to make sure I was safe, before taking off.

arco iris

A rainbow in the sky after a lightly rainy evening in Arequipa.

I actually ended up at a hostel called Home Sweet Home across the street. I had a shared room with five beds, but since my roommates left that morning, I had the rest of the morning to catch up on the non-sleep that I experienced during my overnight semi-cama bus ride. Warmer weather and sun welcomed me through the windows as I fell asleep, in my new room in Arequpia.


Posted: January 15, 2013

Author: Tiffany

Category: Americas, Blog, Peru

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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