South America, Day Twenty: Cusco, Peru

So after sod all sleep, we eventually got up, had breakfast and headed to Pisac market.

ADVICE: Take money out in advance and make sure you have small change.

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After faffing around with cash-related stuff for ages, we finally caught the bus. Five soles for an hour’s drive. We caught the bus from a mini-garage, about a fifteen minute walk away from the hostel (on the corner of Av. Garcilaso and Tullumayo, stop Q on the map). We didn’t get to sit next to each other because we were quite late getting there, but at least we got a seat. Some didn’t. This bus only leaves when it’s full but – being a Sunday ‘n all – that happened pretty quickly.

After a very slooooow journey (and a lovely chat in Spanish with the girl next to me), we hopped off and attempted to find our way to the market (cross the bridge-like-thing and keep walking straight). The market itself is like a maze… it’s a vast open space, and each stall / shop sells pretty much the same thing. Tack in my book. A lot of tack.

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(Photos by Vicki Brand)

ADVICE: Haggle. Halve whatever they quote you and work your way up. Well, maybe not halve… knock off a third at the very least. Some are stubborn though and won’t budge. Others will offer you a cheaper price before you open your mouth.

I bought a ring for my nan (she turned 90 in October, aaw), a stupid llama-thing for a good friend, a Machu Picchu magnet and a scarf. You can get good bargains if you’re patient enough.

We had lunch in one of the street food cafes. Basic. But at 20 soles each, nothing to moan about. Except Vicki’s chicken was pink. So was mine… but I was hungry so ate it anyway.

We caught a shuttle back (6 soles) which, unbeknown to us, dropped us off in the arse end of nowhere, in a bitch of a location, outside ‘centro historico’… so we caught a taxi from the drop-off to our hostel. No idea how you’d find your way out of the market to the shuttle stand (we had help from a multi-lingual German girl who had just moved to Peru). The market is a mind melt when it comes to navigation. Each section looks the same. Good luck.

When we finally returned, we had our briefing for tomorrow’s Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu tour. The travel agent (based in Milhouse hostel) buggered up our tickets. My passport number was wrong and Vicki was down as a man. They’ve told us it doesn’t matter. If it does, there will be HELL to pay, as we’re waking up at stupid o’clock to get there.

For dinner, we went to Pacha Papa and tried guinea pig. MISTAKE. In fact, it was so horrible, I don’t even want to write about it. No me gusta.

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(These smiles don’t quite disguise our disgust)

No, it doesn’t taste like chicken. It tastes like slimy rat-like meat. And you can’t eat it with a knife and fork; you have to pick it up and suck the flesh off the bones. And yes, it is as gross as it sounds. What made it worse is that all the waiters, whom were so impressed that two blonde gringos ordered their traditional dish, stood around and watched us devour the beast. So we had to do so with a smile / grimace. God, it was disgusting. I can usually eat anything but guinea pig a) tastes rank and b) prompts feelings of guilt (because of my childhood pet; her name was Ginny). So, all in all, it was a huge mistake. One I won’t be repeating.

Now we’re in bed, bracing ourselves for the early start. There’s a sign on the wall that says: ‘It feels good to be lost in the right direction’. I like that. And I agree. I do feel so lucky to be here – and to be experiencing things (even if they are uncomfortable).

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