Good morning Cuzco.
Let the culture shock begin. From Tim Hortons ‘double doubles’ to Cafe con leche, from Hudson Bay trading forts to Inca ruins the contrasts smacked us in the face the moment we set foot on the cobble stoned street, before that even if you count our hotel, the Cuzco Plazza II. Imagine bedding down in a converted Colonial building complete with Inca stones scattered about the covered courtyard for effect. Then there were the giant stone plinths and worn stone stairway up to the second floor....and scented toilet paper. That’s right, apparently the Cuzco sewage system wasn’t built for toilet paper. Instead you’re supposed to wipe and discard into the little bin next to the toilet. The same bin we’d moved into the bedroom for easy access as we sorted our stuff. The paper is scented to offset any offensive odours that might escape the little toilet bin....that now sat in our bedroom.
Before heading outside we had the option of stopping by the drink table where hot water waited to be added to coffee cups with coca leaves. The Coca leaf is used in the Andes to combat altitude sickness. You can drink it in tea or munch on a wad like a baseball player in the pen. Just don’t swallow it...found that one out after the fact.
Out in the street the feast continued. The hotel was conveniently located next to the local police station. We watched as a group of traffic officers rode up the hill on motorcycles and parked by the sidewalk like a row of dominos. They were all women. It was quite the spectacle, and they looked the part in their riding boots, pants, jackets and helmets.
We mosied up the stone sidewalk while locals passed us by. ‘Ola’ and ‘Buenos Dias’ were the greetings of the day. Smiles were in abundance and the general feeling that permeated the streets was one of,
‘It’s going to be a great day!’
Victor had done a great job mounting the bags. The next step was to take the bikes out for a spin to see if there were any last minute tweaks that needed tending too. Cuzco probably isn’t the best place to get the feel for a bike, one way streets, prowling dogs, cobble stones, hills that could pass for ski slopes, a rush hour from hell and the ‘Inca’ car rally coming through town make for a challenging adventure. Part of our trial run was to do some shopping and using the little map we were given we were lost within 10 minutes. We soon figured it out however but when we tried to get back to the hotel we were thwarted by traffic police that had shut down a good part of town as the rally cars rolled into Cuzco. Every narrow cobble stoned street led to another police man with a whistle. When we exhausted our options we ended up watching the tail end of the rally along with a bunch of boisterous locals and some friendly police. When I started filming one officer and told him he’d be on television he didn’t know what to do, he froze and smiled like he’d just won the rally. When they finally let us back on the road we made tracks to Peru Moto Tours and gave them a rundown of tweaks to be made for the bikes before we picked them up the following morning.
Back at the hotel I transferred files. It went better today, actually managed to keep the entire days footage. With our day winding down we took in some John Travolta speaking Spanish on the flat screen. He put on quite the show. Never knew he was bi-lingual.