June 6, 2018

My flight from Lima to Cuzco was fine, once we finally took off after sitting on the tarmac in Lima for two hours due to a mechanical problem. We flew over the Andes and I could see snow-capped peaks and terraced hillsides from the plane.

I arrived at my hotel high above the city center in a almost scary area. The hotel was basic but okay. The view from the breakfast room was nice, but Cuzco itself from there looked a little rough. 700,000 people live there and I was not expecting such a big place with such sprawl.

I drank a cup of coco tea for the altitude - Cuzco is at 11,000 ft - and walked down to the Plaza de Armas. The whole town was preparing for a huge festival on June 24. It felt like San Miguel de Allende all over again, and not in a good way. I ate a pizza and went back to my hotel.

In terms of food and drink, my first priority was to not get sick before my hike. So I was eating lightly and cautiously.

The next day I stayed in bed as long as I could (because it was so cold and I was trying to take it easy, as instructed for acclimating to altitude) and still get the the hotel's breakfast. It was pretty awful. There were these dry cold rolls, a concentrated coffee you added hot water to, and then a surprise: the girl asked if I wanted an egg cooked to order.

I walked into town and watched a big military parade in honor of the big celebration for El Sol. The tour company I booked with was Journey Machu Picchu and they seemed to pretty much suck. I hadn't heard anything from them in about a month. I had no idea where to meet them for the hike or when and where I'd get my pre-hike briefing.

With help from an amazing young woman at the Peru tourist office, I got my tour sorted out.

I booked a tour for that afternoon to see the Inka sites in and around Cuzco and had a great time. It was sunny and beautiful.

The next day I went on a full day tour of the Sacred Valley. It was a fine day and a good way to get used to climbing the stone steps at altitude.

I spent the last day before the hike packing and making some last-minute purchases.

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