Drive-by Shooting in Cusco – Days 478/9
After a long night of catching three planes and having a nap, we ventured out to explore and buy some items. We didn’t expect to be caught in a drive-by shooting in Cusco.
A long night of catching three planes, travelling over 6,000km despite only being 1,500km away from our destination. Yes, we didn’t plan well. We thought we’d be able to hop across the border to Cusco in Peru easily from San Pedro de Atacama; not have to fly all the way down to Santiago then onto Lima and on to Cusco.
Despite booking the journey in one go, we had to check in for each flight. Our final trip was with a bucket airline, Viva. Unfortunately, we ended up having to pay extra for carry-on and for printing our boarding cards. I must admit that in my tired state I abruptly informed the poor airline assistant that “we’ve been travelling all around the world for 15 months and not once have we printed our boarding cards or paid for them”. He did apologise and said that the Airline was cheap, that’s how they make their profit from all these hidden extras. We weren’t the only ones affected, I saw quite a few people having to get their credit cards out.
We arrived at Cusco at 5:30am.
The Hotel was supposed to organise a taxi for us, but it was nowhere to be seen. In the end, we got an Uber, and the driver was a delight, giving us details of all the great places to see locally. We will use him again.
The Hotel receptionist was very apologetic and said that the taxi driver had just phoned her to say that he couldn’t find us. Well, if he arrives too late, he’s not, is he? We don't usually stay in Hotels; Airbnbs are more our thing. However, we are on a combined Three Principles retreat and trip to Machu Picchu, so the hotel is part of the package - more on that in the next few days.
We got to our room and collapsed into the land of Nod. Later, we had a lovely chat with our son and his girlfriend. They are always so thoughtful and had two blue balloons with Birthday Boy on them and a candle for Tim to magically blow out over the Ethernet. It’s his birthday tomorrow.
Our dirty clothes bag was getting rather full. After calculating that the Hotel laundry service would cost over £34, we found a local laundrette which charged us just over £2.50! A bit of a tip for you here.
After a very delicious meal in Jack’s café, a local joint for young and GrownUpTravellers, we wandered down the small cobbled lanes in the district of San Blas. I wanted to buy Tim some trousers for his birthday and a jumper for the chilly nights in here. We popped into a few of the many small shops selling colourful Alpaca sweaters, scarves, blankets and of course the beautiful Chullo hats with their rich colours, patterns and flaps to keep your ears warm. I’ve had a few of these in my time, looking a bit of a dork wearing them down Peterborough High Street. They look so much better here in the Andes.
Suddenly we could see a commotion. There were lots of police on the street, and we could hear bangs and see sprays of something. It was coming from the main square, the Plaza de Armas. We gingerly walked towards the hullabaloo, keeping near to the shop doorways. We needed to cross the street, and when we thought the coast was clear, zoomed across, but suddenly I was hit by a drive-by shooting. I was covered in foam.
It’s the Cusqueño Carnival here in Cusco today with the tradition of locals of all ages throwing buckets of water and spraying foam at each other or innocent passers-by. A little boy had his Super-Soaker filled and aiming at us. We pleaded that he didn’t shoot us. I managed to escape, but Tim got sprayed a bit.
We dived into a hiking shop grateful for the safe haven! Success, Tim found a pair of trousers that convert into shorts, so handy for the mixed weather here in Peru. Also, he found a very lovely fleece with an Alpaca shell and cashmere panels inside. I was also pleased, that’s his Birthday pressy bought.
As we precariously left the shop, we were amazed to see that the crowds had disappeared. A few police were hanging around, and the refuse collector was clearing up the debris.
We didn’t stay long, we’re still feeling tired, not only from the lack of sleep last night but also Cusco is nearly 3,400 m above sea level. Luckily neither of us are suffering from altitude sickness, but wI do notice we get breathless if exerting ourselves - like climbing the stairs!!
The effects of the altitude should only last a couple of days until our bodies get used to the change. We do hope so, we’re looking forward to exploring more of this historic city with its Incan and Spanish influences before heading off to Machu Picchu.