Saturday, August 12, 2006

Goodbye to Cuzco and back to Lima.

My last day in Cuzco started out as many of my other days had....bright and early with what had become my "traditional" breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Just as I was finishing breakfast, Susie came down and we agreed to meet back at the hotel at noon to do a last bit of souvenir shopping.

The weather was beautiful - sunny, mid 70'sF and no humidity - perfect day for one last walk through the city. I started by going to San Blas - a barrio (neighborhood) that is known as an "artsy" community. There's a pretty little square where the Chapel of San Blas (shown in the photo below) is located. It was early morning and vendors were just beginning to set up their display tables. I didn't stay around long enough to see if what they were going to be selling was the same as what I had seen in the local handicrafts market but I suspect it is.




On my way back to Plaza des Armas, I couldn't help it but snap this photo of an Andean woman with her llama. It cost me 3 soles but what the heck, it's the tourist photo that everyone expects you to bring back from Peru!




I headed back to the San Pedro Market to buy another bag of Peruvian coffee and a small bottle of vanilla. I know that vanilla is usually not considered a souvenir but not long ago, a friend of mine brought me a bottle of Mexican vanilla - it has such a wonderful aroma and flavor. I was curious to see if the Peruvian version is as good. Since it was a Saturday, the market was jam packed with locals and there were more vendors than when I previously visited the place. Though there were new sights, sounds and smells to experience, I decided not to stay long.

I headed back towards Plaza des Armas via Calle Nueve. As I had expected, I was the only non-Peruvian face walking the streets. I stopped at a cafe and bought what I describe as a crispy cone (sort of like a puff pastry cone) filled with chocolate cream. It was delicious.

Next stop was the Plaza San Francisco which had become a favorite place for me to sit and watch the world go by. I found my spot on a bench and sat for a few minutes to soak in the view......and then, surprise of all surprises, Greg and Kyle pass by. They were out for a quick walk but were heading back to the hotel to meet up with the rest of their family. I walked with them back to Plaza Des Armas.

At the Gatos Market, I bought my last two tamales con sal from my favorite vendor and then headed to Simon's shop. I needed to find out from him when I was actually flying out of Cuzco, to give him my thanks, and to say goodbye.

As I had expected, Simon was in his shop. He was still looking a bit under the weather. I told him that I didn't have my flight info and it turned out that he didn't either! It took a few "Peruvian" minutes but Simon was able to get me on a 3:20pm LAN flight from Cuzco to Lima plus arrange pickup for me in Lima.

I also told him that the rest of the gang was planning on meeting up at noon to go souvenir shopping at the artesanal market that he had recommended we go to. I asked Simon if he was up for shopping and he replied "not really". He looked really tired.....I think battling the cold was finally beginning to take its toll on him.

I told him I would take the gang to the market (my chance to play tour guide) but needed directions on where to go - turned out it was pretty straightforward getting to the market.....on Avenida Sol just a few blocks past the Convento Santo Domingo/Koricancha.

I asked Simon to email me his contact info so we could stay in touch and then we hugged each other goodbye. Fate would bring us to together sooner than I had expected as you'll find out later.

I went back to the hotel and the gang was already waiting to go shopping. We exchanged email addresses so we could keep in touch after the trip and then I quickly ran up to my room, finished packing and brought my backpack down to the lobby.

We headed out the hotel and walked towards Avenida Sol. Kim and Andrea quickly went into a bank to withdraw money from the ATM. Once we made it to the market, I gave everyone a hug and bid them goodbye.

I walked back to the hotel and asked the receptionist to call a taxi for me. The taxi came and 6 soles later, I was at the airport. I was sad leaving Cuzco as I knew that I just had a few days left of my vacation.....that, and I really did not look forward to returning to Lima.