The morning after we returned from the homestay, we got up to discover that there was no hot water in the hotel because the hot water heater had burst. Shortly thereafter, the water was turned off full stop. At least we were still able to brush our teeth due to the need to use bottled water for such things!
So it wasn't a particularly enjoyable six and a half hour bus ride, particularly when there was only one stop (and therefore one toilet break!) on the entire drive. Upon arrival in Cusco, it was pretty much a sprint to the showers. Although not before Nessa and I discovered that, unlike the rest of our group, our room was a dungeon with some kind of medieval padlock on the door. It was impossible to get open in a hurry, and once you eventually got the lock undone, you had to go down about three stairs to actually get into the room:
That evening, we had our briefing for the Inca Trail, and met the four people who were joining our group. There were two couples, who were quite a bit older than the rest of the group: one couple were sweet and hilarious and in their 40s. The other couple? Were a millionty years old, and very VERY annoying. Okay, technically it was just HER that was annoying. She was loud, unfit, and got everyone's names wrong right up until the end of the tour. After about 10 minutes in her company, I mentioned quietly to various members of the group that she was going to annoy the living shit out of me. I was promptly told to not be so judgemental and to give her a chance.
Within 24 hours, almost every member of the group had come up to me to say that yes, I was right and she was the most annoying person on earth. Needless to say, I got ever so slightly I-told-you-so-y. We decided that we needed a safe word so that we knew to suddenly stop talking if they came up and we were bitching about them. After a day or so, the safe word became synonymous with their names, and we just called them Mr and Mrs Watermelon instead... (Not to their faces, obviously!)
The following day started with a trip to Saqsayhuaman. Our guide for the day promptly informed us that it's pronounced "sexy woman". It's super awesome and historic and HOW THE HELL DID THEY MOVE THESE ENORMOUS STONES?!?!?!
|Yet another unflattering photo of me for scale|
|Minus me so you can appreciate the awesomeness|
|More of the site|
It would be even more awesome if the people of Cusco hadn't used it as a quarry up until the mid-20th century... ANYWAY. You also get a pretty spectacular view of downtown Cusco from Saqsayhuaman:
By the time we'd finished there, my inner archaeologist was flailing with excitement (Lor: this is kind of like when Ana's inner goddess does a samba, only much more awkward and nerdy. And not over a creepy stalker weirdo). We then headed up to Tambomachay, which was some kind of Incan spa or shrine to the water gods. Or both. Jeez, archaeologists. Make up your minds...
From Tambomachay, we went out to the Sacred Valley, which is pretty spectacular:
...and then to a llama/alpaca/vicuña education centre. Which basically ended up being "OMFG Mrs Watermelon is making us all stabby. Thank God there are baby animals here that we get to feed":
|It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!!|
|They're guinea pigs, in case you can't tell...|
Our final stop of the day was Ollantaytambo, which was a royal Incan estate, and is super dooper awesome and amazeballs. Especially if you have an inner archaeologist:
|Those are Incan storehouses about half way up the mountain. SUPER PRACTICAL!|
After a couple of hours of me flailing around like an excited idiot and the rest of the group going "Hey, that's kind of old and nifty", we headed back into Cusco. Our tour leader issued us with our bags, sleeping mats and walking sticks for the Inca Trail (eek!!) and we spent a delightful evening packing by torchlight, because the hotel conveniently had a blackout. It was excellent preparation for the next four days. Or something...
Next up: The Inca Trail, on which Mrs Watermelon gets even more crazy and annoying, and on which I think I'm going to die.