Ever since we left the hiking trail we have been concerned with two things only.
One: get to Cusco.
Two: eat as much food as possible.
We have been taking this second one pretty seriously and wasted no time getting started. We both lost a lot of weight on our 10 day trek, my pants were falling down and I had to add another hole on my belt. As soon as we left the trail we started looking for a restaurant and found a lady in the village who agreed to cook dinner and breakfast for us for a few soles. The food was simple, but oh so good.
Breakfast soup at Simeona’s house
To make things easy on us, the four-day drive to Cusco has been packed with great roadside treats, all fresh and natural. We have been stopping at almost every fruit, milk, yogurt, honey and cheese stand that we see and have not been disappointed. We haven’t visited a supermarket for weeks.
Sunday beer’s at the gas station. We weren’t allowed to fill up until we had a few birthday beers with the owner.
We also passed through Ica, Peru’s wine region. Although we were too late in the day to visit the two major wineries, we still jumped at the chance to test out a few home made wines and piscos. We ended up buying a bottle and camping in the wine store carpark. A little further on we came upon a town and noticed red flags outside a few houses. This means “The Chicha is ready! Come in for a taste. Stay a while and chat.” Chicha is the fermented corn beer that has been brewed in Peru since Inca times. Of course we stopped for a taste and a chat before merrily hitting the road again.
The really serious eating didn’t start until we got to Cusco, which has been a culinary playground. We found ourselves having lunch twice a day, and still wishing that we could fit more in. Not only were the restaurants and street food vendors amazing, but the San Pedro market is also incredible. We stocked up with plenty of fresh goodies for a home cooked meal.
There was more to Cusco than the food though. The whole place has a vibe and character unmatched by most other cities we have visited. Every day there seemed to be a festival or parade with brass bands and ornate costumed dancers to celebrate one thing or another. It is also steeped in history, both pre- and post-Colombian. The city is built on top of the old Incan city, the incredible Inca stone foundations are still visible all over the place. And while it’s a real shame that the old Incan city was destroyed to build anew, the Spanish sure put up some nice buildings.
Somehow we found some time between meals to visit the Machu Picchu museum, to prepare our minds for that excursion.
1911 Yale Expedition. Well dressed.
There is a great campsite way up the hill outside of town where we stayed for a few nights. We used the bikes to get around town, bumping over cobblestones and dodging parades. After dinner and drinks each night, the ride home was gruelling, and it didn’t really help much toward achieving my weight gain goals.
The campsite was a great spot to relax and meet up with some other road trippers. Joost and Liliana are heading the other way in their kombi, so we had lots of stories and information to share with each other. It was really great to hang out with some like minded travellers for a few days.
Dinner at Pachamama (Thanks Sal & Shauno)
We really had no idea how charming Cusco would be and were really impressed, I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Posted from La Paz, Bolivia.