(August 15 – written by Nancy)
Well, our nice quiet night in the schoolyard was not to be – we should have never been so foolish to think that any night during a fiesta in a Peruvian town would be quiet. The music in the town square started up just after 10pm and didn’t finish up until almost 6am this morning. We think there was a break for an hour or so somewhere around 3am this morning as most of us did finally get some sleep but it was pretty full-on the rest of the night. Oh well, at least we were not paying for accommodation and not getting any sleep! I am not sure how the rest of the townfolk were going to get up and go to work today as the noise would have carried throughout the town, it was that loud.
We had to be out of the schoolgrounds before 7am so had set our alarms for 5am to make sure we had enough time to pack up and make breakfast. Last night I thought, ugh – alarm at 5am, packing up when it will still be dark out – not much fun. Well, we were all up before 5am without the alarms, to enjoy the last set of the band from up at the square so no need at all really for alarms. With the early rising all six of us now hit the road by 6:30 to start our ~27k climb up to the final real pass to Cusco.
It was cool on the climb – my computer read 12C – but the gradient wasn’t too bad so we made good time and reached the top before 10am. After a quick snack we put on jackets for the downhill – not too steep but the wind was enough to make it pretty chilly. We had a nice section of almost flat riding – something we haven’t had in what seems like a very long time! We quickly reached the small town of Izuchaca, which is just 20k or so outside of Cusco proper. We stopped to check the map and take off our jackets as it was really heating up and spied several bakeries so of course we had to check them out. A few pieces of cake later we hit the road again for the last bit into Cusco. Sarah and Andy didn’t stop in Izuchaca but somehow we all regrouped just as everyone entered Cusco.
We had a bit of a climb to get over the last hump before we headed down into Cusco. Traffic picked up, as you would expect near a bigger city, so we were careful to ride single file. We had a bit of an exciting ride to get to our hostel as we had to go down a very steep hill on a very small road made of cobblestones. It was barely rideable – more like slideable! Philipp and Tine’s hostel was on the way down, so we stopped to drop them off and say goodbye for now as they are headed off on a hike for a few days. Thankfully the rough road ended and after a few more turns we arrived at Hostel Qolqampata, our home for the next 6 nights.
The hostel is nice and is a short distance away from the Plaza de Armas and tons of restaurants, etc (thanks to Manja and Martin for the tip on the hostal). We went out for an early dinner and had an amazing Thai meal – Dave’s green curry was one of the best he’s had, even counting Thailand itself. After dinner we had a stroll around the plaza and a hot chocolate at Starbucks (I know, the shame!). We have started making our to-do list but figured we deserved the afternoon off before we had to start ticking things off on it. Now off to bed for hopefully a good night’s sleep with no alarm in the morning – yeah!