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Day 15 – Cusco in The Sun

October 25, 2010

Location: Cusco, Peru and roads to Ica

Date: Monday, October 25, 2010

Traveling is two parts planning, three parts luck. For example, you can plan on going on a four-day liveaboard trip in Thailand’s Similan Islands, but you can’t control whether you see a manta ray. You can eat at more Western restaurants, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get food poisoning.  You can plan on being on time for a train, but that doesn’t mean you’ll actually make it. Sometimes fate has different plans.

So it goes today. Luck and the weather toyed with me, just a bit. Yesterday, I bought a bus ticket from Cusco to Ica for some sandboarding. This morning–after days of rain and near freezing temps–Cusco pulled a perfect day out of its hat. The sun was blazing with just a touch of clouds in the sky. And now I have to go. Lucky me.

I spent four hours of the morning and afternoon in prepaid Spanish classes (a survey of past and future tense), then had a fantastic meal of huevos rancheros at Jack’s. Afterwards, I rushed out to the Plaza de Armas to take pictures of everyone out lounging in the sunshine. Not that the plaza needs much help looking good. Cusco has its grittier sides. The plaza isn’t one of them. Even in the previous week’s bitter weather, the planters were immaculate, the grass was trimmed, multicolored lights illuminated the fountain at night, and the place was crawling with policia in yellow high-visibility jackets.

When the sun’s out like it was today, the plaza goes to another level. The deep blue of the high altitude sky makes the green of the vegetation and the brown of the cathedrals pop. You just want to grab a book, stake out a park bench and spend the afternoon sipping a warm coffee, reading in the comfortably crisp air. You want to ignore the posted signs and walk barefoot through the silky grass.

What you don’t want to do is leave this mountain oasis and get on a bus for 20 hours of winding mountain roads.

Of course, that’s what I had to do. Late afternoon, I hailed cab and boarded a bus at 6 p.m. for a restless night in a semi-coma.

For now, it’s goodbye to Cusco. No doubt I will be back. If I’m lucky, it’ll be sooner rather than later.

GALLERY: Click through to see a couple bonus pics of an idyllic Plaza de Armas.

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