Getting High

Last week was a rare, but much needed, occurrence. Following the Snyder short-term team in Peru, I stayed in-country for an extra week of vacation! My birthday present to myself was knocking Machu Picchu off of my lifetime bucket list the hard way, via a 4d/3n trek. It was indescribable, but I'll do my best in a subsequent post.

First things first: it's recommended that all trekkers spend a few days in Cusco acclimating to the altitude (11,000+ ft.). I'd been in Denver before with no ill effects, but a) the Mile High City is less than half as high as Cusco; and b) I'd always driven there, versus the 90 min. flight that skyrocketed me up from sea level. Given the unknown of how my body was going to react and the fact that I had lost my voice, I prioritized rest and rejuvenation over sightseeing. I even did a fair amount of Christmas shopping and bought myself a few things besides a spoon for my collection!

My hostel was a short walk from the Plaza de Armas. It was beautiful out when I arrived early last Sunday morning. 

Cappuccino's became my go-to spot for hot liquid therapy with a killer view. 

I walked by the Twelve-angled stone without even realizing it until a guy trying to sell me his art pointed it out and offered to take my picture by it. 

He also pointed out a puma and a snake disguised in some more nearby Incan stonework. The puma was a symbol of power to the Incas; the entire city of Cusco is laid out in a puma shape. 

Can you spot it?

Embracing vacation mode and treating myself to a lovely dinner on the plaza. 

Dusk was just setting in when I left!

I stopped to grab a bottle of water and HAD to try these, too. Coca is supposed to alleviate altitude sickness and comes in a plethora of forms (leaves, tea, candy, etc.). I was't feeling ill, just intrigued!

Cusco is known for its steep, labyrinthine streets dotted with coffee shops, restaurants, hostels, and tour companies. 

The destination of my Monday morning walk: the Catedral de San Blas. No photography is allowed inside, but this humble church houses one of the world's most intricately carved wooden pulpits. My favorite part was a dove suspended from the top portion so as to rest above the preacher's head. 

I took a taxi from the plaza outside the cathedral to the Cristo Blanco for a stunning view of the city. 

Selfie with a mosaic tile mural spotted during my afternoon wanderings. 

My only planned activity in Cusco was a 6:30 pm briefing Monday night to meet my fellow trekkers and pick up the company-issued duffel bag I'd stuff with my belongings and turn over to the porters. Then it was early to bed as pick-ups started at 4:10 am...

Until next time, blessings!