Sunday, February 28, 2010

Peru Day 17: Cramming Cusco into one day and yet another TUNA

Mike arrived early this morning and after we both slept for a few more hours, I got him out of bed and tried to show him Cusco in about 6 hours (the amount of time I figured we had before he'd fall flat on his face back into bed).

While there is no time difference between DC and Cusco, the altitude (and 24 hours of travel time you need to get here) can make you very tired. Mike needed his rest for the trekking we were doing this week and I didn't want to push my luck.

I took him to Mercado San Pedro for juice and my favorite food stand for arroz con huevo y plantana (white rice, a fried egg, papas fritas and plantains -- and this time I got a hot dog on top). It was nice having someone to share that with, as I always leave more in the bowl than what I eat.

We walked around the main square for a while and then I took Mike to Molino where we picked up a few supplies for our trek (sweet potato chips, toothpaste, etc.). Back to the hotel for a nap and then off to the Llama Path, our trekking company, for a debriefing.

We met Diego, our lead guide, and he mapped out our trek. It seemed LONG but doable. The trip length is about 35 km and most of it is either uphill or downhill. The Andes are not flat. I took a deep breath and put my faith in his skills.

Mike was about to fall over, so after I took him to eat some yummy falafel, we walked back to our hotel, packed our bags for the 5 am departure time the next day (oy!) and I put Mike to bed. Then I headed out!

I was meeting up with my friend at his friend's bar and since my friend seems to run on Peruvian time, I was still early even though I was 10 minutes late. The bar is tiny, and his friend remembered me from a previous visit so I settled in to wait. There was a couple quietly talking in one corner and a table full of rowdy musicians playing guitars and singing in the other corner.

But these were no ordinary musicians. According to my friend (who showed up a half hour late), they were part of a travelling singing group called Tuna (which doesn't stand for anything). The group there was from Spain and they were decked out in full Conquistador-style regalia (think tights, capes, poofy sleeves, etc). There were about 8 of them and more kept started to trickle in. When there were about 11 musicians, one came up to me, kissed my hand, told me I was very beautiful and asked if they could sing a song for me. I knew my face was red (and my friend was giggling behind the bar), but how could I refuse such an offer? So, 11 Spaniards in full Tuna regalia serenaded me. That was a first.

Over the next 1/2 hour another 20 Tunas came in, both from Spain and Peru. My friend was busy serving them but came back to my stool complaining that he had a headache. I sat him down and spent a few minutes working on his neck and back. This of course piqued the attention of a few of the musicians and I recieved some requests for massage. Sooooo I went to work. I massaged about 4 of the musicians over the course of the evening and, as a result, now have invitations to visit Naples, Italy, and various cities across Spain. I wonder if I can invite Mike....

To say that the evening was special is like saying the sky is blue.
All of my evenings here in Cusco are special. My friend and I were grinning ear to ear the whole night, thinking how fortunate we were to be at that place on that evening. He calls those "lucky strikes." I call them beautiful.

He walked me back to the hotel in the rain. Into bed by 11:30 and up again at 4 am for the start of our trek!

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