[I wrote this last Friday and Saturday, but today is the first day I have had a chance to post it, as I have been busy doing rather fun things in the afternoons.]
What to say; what to say? This, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem with waiting five days to write my post about Cusco. There is so much to say. Well, oh well. Here it goes.
The flight to Cusco was extremely pleasant. The LAN airplane in which I flew for a mere hour had the newest-looking interior I have seen since the boys and I flew on Canada Air a couple of years ago. And, best of all, as you may have noted from my previous post’s pictures, THEY SERVED A SNACK! Any airline can win my heart by providing me food (peanuts count I suppose, but just barely), especially on a one-hour flight, of all things! Towards the end of the flight, as the plane gradually descended, I glimpsed some stunning rolling mountainous hills dotted with houses a few groves of evergreens and traversed by the occasional serpentine road. Because of the position of the runway, the plane swooped around the side of a mountain and over part of Cusco, a maneuver that allowed us passengers more breathtaking areal views of the city and countryside, to land reasonably smoothly and right on time.
The other passengers, mostly American and European, and I exited on to the tarmac and then wended our way through various hallways, straight to baggage claim. I found my suitcase easily, pleased that it had stayed in one piece. With my backpack on my back and my suitcase rolling along behind me, I walked out into the sunlight outside, where various people in similar situations as myself were scanning the numerous names on the signs held up by people standing along a rail that separated us from them. It took me a few minutes, but I finally found my name and my host mother, Adela, who held the sign. She hugged me and did the whole kiss-on-the-cheek-but-really-kiss-the air-near-the-person’s-head Latin American thing. After inquiring how my flight was, she hailed us a taxi, which drove us the ten or so minutes to her house. During the taxi ride, she asked me, amongst other things, if I at meat. Ah, yes. In addition, she desire to know if I would rather take a nap or accompany her to a parade in the Plaza de Armas once we arrived at her house. Not feeling the slightest bit tired, despite having awoken at 3:30 a.m., I informed her I would certainly like to go to the parade.
After tossing my stuff into my room, receiving a brief tour of the house, and being more or less forced to drink some coca tea, I met Adela’s grandmother (I think that is who she was) and some other older lady and hopped into a taxi with them and Adela. The taxi dropped us off right on the edge of the huge crowds lining the parade route around the plaza on every side. Following Adela’s light blue jacket, we wormed our way through the crowds to a good standing location at front edge of the crowd. The parade, a celebration of schools and also their graduating classes, lasted about two or so hours from the time we got there, when it had already been in progress for a while I think. Adela’s mom was in a gold graduating class (50 years ago) that marched in the parade. I should say they duck stepped, because that is what everyone – young and old, parents of students, and students, five year olds and fifty five year olds – did. It looked rather silly.
During the parade Adela’s brother appeared. He and his wife and daughter were visiting from Puno, a town about five hours away from Cusco. After the parade we walked with them to a café, where most everyone drank some sort of hot milk drink and ate a pastry, talking all the while. I had not brought my money and was not terribly hungry, so I had nothing and mostly listened to their conversation, some of which I could understand. Adela’s brother and sister-in-law told me if I ever visited Puno, I was welcome to stay with them. We probably sat in the blessedly warm café for an hour and a half or two hours. Before taking a taxi home, Adela picked up some rotisserie chicken and fries (a combination as common here as fried chicken and sweet tea at home), which we ate, along with a requisite cup of tea, nearly as soon as we arrived home. After lunch, around 2:00, I holed myself up in my room to “rest,” not that I did any of that, really, and unpack.
I stayed in my room all the rest of the afternoon and evening, emerging only to eat a light supper of eggs and rice after Adela returned from what I assume was evening mass.
I was bored. And miserably cold. I don’t think I have ever been so bored and so cold in my life, and I certainly hope I never shall be again. I should have gone to bed, because once I finally got there at 8:30, I discovered that in spite of its rather normal appearance, my bed was piled with blankets; wearing my thermal long sleeve shirt, two t-shirts, my pj pants, and two pairs of socks and underneath all four blankets, I felt warm for the first time in six hours.