After the 10 hour train journey from Puno we arrive in Cusco, met by Larry who is not an American piano bar host, just another Peruvian with an unexpected name. He takes us to our hotel and gives us our itinerary for Cusco and Machu Picchu, the end of the adventure is drawing closer.

We wander out into the Cusco evening to look for food and discover a beautiful old historical town, a lot of touting of massages and dried pumpkins on street corners and the usual swarm of beardy backpackers grunging around looking dirty and recounting stories of their travels.

We have two nights and a free day without a guide or things to do, a lie in, lunch, stroll through the town. Cusco is 3400m above sea level and the difference is noticeable, we breathe freely and have lost all signs of altitude sickness.

We both wake up with a start at 4am, there are explosions outside! Liam sits up and looks worried, with my vast knowledge of Spanish early morning fiestas and bahadas, I know immediately that this is probably just a madonna being taken out for a procession, sure enough the explosions continue and we lie there trying to dose. By 5.45am we’ve had enough and get up and cross the courtyard for breakfast.

We learn that it is the festival of San Antonio.

Wandering through Cusco by day we feel that this really is one of the nicest places we’ve stayed, bars, restaurants, squares and all safe, no need to worry about getting mugged.

We go to a bar for a juice and the lady sitting next to us tells us about her stay here;
She left Melbourne 3 years ago after finding that she was allergic to wifi, she went to Portugal to live in a forest – the only place in that was wifi free and where she avoided wifi seizures, she then came to Pisac and intends to live here and write. She is cured of her wifi allergy and was plugged into a memory stick whilst talking to us.

She swears by mate de coca the green leaf tea that allegedly reduces altitude sickness it is a stimulant like coffee but we found it kept us awake.

So we’ve packed our bags which are being left here in the hotel and prepared our day bags for the overnighter at Machu Picchu.
The end of our 10 day journey through illness, sickness, extreme adventure and inca souvenir saturation draws nigh…..
Mark, Cusco, Peru, 24 January 2017
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