20.07.2010 - 23.07.2010 85 °F
From Cuenca, Ecuador we took a bus down to, and across the border into Peru. That part was about 6 hours. It was a 3 hour wait at the border because at the time we crossed, they were re-booting and backing up the computerized immigration system. After sitting on a curb for a couple hours on the border of Ecuador and Peru, we finally got processed (which took all of 30 seconds). Then headed to the Peruvian Immigration Office to get cleared and then off we went! We headed to the bus station at Piura, Peru and changed busses, then had a 15 hour busride to Lima! It was pretty nice though, and we got to sit in the front of a double-decker, luxury bus. I had a panoramic view of the entire journey with this HUGE window across the whole front and wrapping around the sides. It was a little unnerving because they drive here just like they do in any latin country...crazy! We got into Lima and a friend from Portland´s mother met us there with her other son, and they took us around for the whole day. She and her son were both super helpful and some of the nicest people ever! I´m really glad we got a chance to all meet them. We got to see a ton of stuff, all packed into one day. The entire city center, including the Presidential Palace and offices, a phenominal church (complete with access down into the catacombes), enjoyed some of the best chicken at a Peruvian Chicken Roaster, a museum on Peruvian Indian history, and got to see a very impacting mueseum about the Spanish Inquisition. It was housed in a church where people who weren´t "beleivers" were tortured and coerrced into believing. The museum included a tour of the underground torture chambers, views through glass of the walls where people awaiting their torture had scratched writings into the wall, and the various things (all original artifacts) used in the torture. Needless to say, it was incredibly impacting, rivaling the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. After that, we headed back to the hostel to rest a bit, then got up and headed out to a Casino! Hah! Yeah, they have casinos in Lima, just like in Las Vegas! They bring you free beverages as long as you´re playing (we all played penny machines). They also gave you a free meal (consisting of some roast pork, potatoes and rice), and even brought a desert cart around, so I had some chocolate cake to top it all off! That´s right! It was great! After that, I headed to bed, and we had to leave for Cusco. We headed out for a great lunch (I´ll upload a picture when I get to a computer that will let me do that...it was definitely picture worthy), and caught a cab for $3 to the bus terminal, which was 20 minutes away. The busride to Cusco took 21 hours, but it was super comfortable, with leather seats that reclined down to nearly flat beds, a hot roast beef dinner, and a morning breakfast. We have the same bus tickets back, so it´ll be just fine! Tomorrow we are planning on checking out the museums in Cusco, and just doing some shopping at the markets, etc. Sunday, we have a tour booked to go through the Sacred Valley, where there are tons of ruins. That´ll be a whole day tour, from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm, and then Sunday we board the train to a town called Aguas Calientes (it´s supposed to be a scenic, 3 hour train ride through some amazing hillsides). We spend the night there, and then get up at 3:30 Tuesday morning to hike 1.5 hours up to Machu Picchu. We can stay there and get some good pictures with not too many tourists since it will be in the morning, then we head back to Aguas Calientes, and board the afternoon train back to Cusco for Tuesday night. Wednesday evening we board our bus back to Lima, stay the day and night there and then head back to the US. I´ll definitely add at least a few more blogs! I hope to add one about the town of Cusco, then the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Lima again. Talk to you all soon!