Posted by: birdmaddgirl | 14 June 2012

hostile hostel, Peru days 1 and 2

You’ll be thrilled to know, if you didn’t already, that host, guest, hotel, hostel, and hostile do indeed all come from the same root. Language does strange but sometimes perfect things.

I arrived in Cusco around 10 in the morning, too wiped from the long flight and an emotionally taxing departure day to argue about the taxi fare. Bargaining is not my strong suit but is something of a necessity in Peru. Hostel 1 was in the San Blas barrio of Cusco, a beautiful and quiet area that sits above the main Plaza and is often accessible only by steep stairs – not a welcome sight for a tired tourist. Fortunately, I pack mad light so I didn’t have to drag a suitcase up anything.

Positives about hostel 1: good location, clean room and bathroom, decent breakfast, plenty of common space, traditional style roof.

Neutrals about hostel 1: nice but odd boarders, off the beaten path, llama shit, slow internet, doubles as a “healing center.”

Negatives about hostel 1: no water in annex bathroom, super shady theft of luggage from storage room, prostitution outside my window.

So I ended up ditching hostel 1. I had very little energy on the first day. After a brief foray for sustenance – delicious potatoes at Cafe Punchay – and a short tour of the bustling Plaza de Armas, I crashed hard. But not hard enough to avoid being awoken three times by a group of Americans arguing with the night porter about the theft of their luggage. Seems the storage was broken into but without any sign of forced entry. Duly noted. Much later, I awoke to the sounds of a drunken man singing in Spanish. My Spanish is, unfortunately, good enough to comprehend Sr. Ortiz’s subsequent persuasion of a lady to extend some favors – there’s a lot of bargaining in Peru.

On the morning of day 2, I arranged hostel 2, discovered the delicious bakery Pantastico, and listened to a hell of a lot of 80s music. I later checked out the Museo Inka. Sad because it pretty clearly demonstrates the cultural devastation of imperialism – much of the exhibits were photos (and not great ones either) of pieces that are housed in other countries. But also awesome for a small but fascinating collection of trepanned skulls (deformations undertaken typically from birth when the skull is soft that elongate or flatten it as a form of cultural identification) and a diorama of artifacts and remains illustrating a cave of ancestral mummies. Totally absorbing.

I have complicated responses to the display of human remains in museums, but we’ll save that for another time.

Next up: Machu Picchu!


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