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Cusco and Inca

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Hello all,

when Rosie and I release our much anticipated 'Travelling with Cade and Rosie- A Handy Guide for the Travellers' Traveller' we are dedicating a whole chapter to sleeping in airports. After roughly 36 hours of travel we have arrived in one piece in Antigua. Please readers, avoid long stays at San Juan Airport. The chairs are uncomfortable with no room to lie down and the tiles are so, so cold. Instead, try Lima airport. You can find yourself a quiet little terminal with five seats to lie down on to catch some shut eye.

Moving on to other matters.

Since we last wrote we were in transit from Rio to Cusco. We went to Sao Paulo in between for about 10 hours and we can say that Sao Paulo has a fantastic airport. For about $10AUD you can get some killer sleeping pills over the counter. A bouncy ball (priceless) is about $1AUD and is a must for people spending time in airports. We arrived in Cusco tired, hungry and not a little emotional. Only one cure for this. Drinking. We met up with a friend from Melbourne and proceeded to paint Cusco red. In Cusco the main square is called Plaza de Armas, an amazing old style European square (I have not been to Europe yet, I imagine this is what old style European squares look like). Cusco is an incredible place. By day it is the prettiest city surrounded by mountains and expansive views. By night she is a firey temptress. After reading AJ Storen's guide to Cusco (RRP $15 on www.amazon.com) I was aware that one can get very drunk in Cusco without spending a cent. You walk around the Plaza for a while picking up free drink cards to entice you into different establishmenhts. After picking up a good amount we sampled every bar in the Plaza. But I here you say, free drinks, they wouldn't give you good pours... WRONG. They don't have measures and they just keep on pouring and pouring. Amongst other highlights of the night: Rosie dancing on the bar in Mama Africa's, our complete rendition of 'Without Me' in some other bar, the introduction of the step in to Cusco (Rosie forgot to declare it on the way in) and losing the knees in Mama Africas (see 'Jorgy's Dancing Guide- How to Really Dance like a Star' (RRP $6 on www.amazon.com.au)

Needless to say we felt great the next day. Not quite. After thwarting several of Rosie's suicide attempts to end his pain, I thought a massage might help. Poor us I thought, struggling through the daily rigours of travel and life on the go. $7.50AUD later for an hour full body massage, I felt great. Rosie still not so good.
That night was a quiet affair. Found a great dinner spot, $5AUD for a bowl of green Inca pumpkin soup (everything is Inca over there, you think Australia commercialises stuff. They have Inca Cola, credit cards etc etc), and main with a glass of home made lemonade.

Next day we thought we start the Inca Trail tomorrow so we'll chill out and get some supplies from the super market. On the way to the supermarket we found a really high mountain we wanted to climb instead. So we climbed it. By climbing I don't mean cliff hanger styles, but climbing ladder like stairs. From the bottom we wondered aloud to the other how magnificent the views must be and what a great adventure it was to be. We were right on both counts. The way up was an incredible adventure. We literally had to fend off feral dogs (no bites or rabies mums), step past a huge pig and her piglets, avoid bird sized mosquitoes and wasps and pretend we didn't see all the locals laughing at us. When we reached the top though it was spectacular. The view over Cusco was absolutely worth it and whatsmore we thought, how hard could the Inca Trail be compared to this!? Also bottled water was about 50cAUD, don't think there is much of a market up that bloody mountain.

On the way down we had some more trouble with the dogs and discovered that Rosie has the force and may or may not be a Jedi Knight. I actually filmed him moving his arm and an angry dog following his command. Incredible. Also, we went and visited the local market. This is where I came up with the perfect retirement solution for dad. You see, dad has an itch for the butcher trade again. But he also wants to retire with Choc somewhere he can relax. Well dad, how about this. The butchers in the market have solved it. They just bring the dogs along and the dogs just walk around amongst all the uncovered meat. Genius!
Other than that, the market was pretty good. Lots of different coloured fruits, nuts, clothes (I found the cutest baby clothes but didn't think Sam or Jodie would let the kid where it so didn't buy it).
So after a day in which we climbed a mountain in Cusco, fended off dogs and had got absolutely nothing ready for the Inca Trail we thought we'd go out for a spot of dinner before we got organised. Four bottles of red later and we weren't in the best knick to get things done. Chilean Cab. Sauv is amazing ladies and you should see what sort of prices Marg or Michael can get you. I've always thought a Chilean Cab Sauv would look good on the winelist.

Inca Day 1:
So anyway, we awoke to do the Inca Trail exhausted, hung over and underprepared. To get to the trail you get a (roughly) two hour busride to another town we you can get some supplies. After sleeping the whole bus ride we soon felt better. In the town we bought some Greg Chappel sun hats (to protect our burn from the previous day, I forgot to mention we got bloody burnt the day before we needed to carry heavy packs over a mountain), some walking sticks (a must for the trail) and some water. We had some spare time in the town because our bus got a flat tyre. We went and found a little market in a side street and checked it out. Not all that much exciting except a BULL'S HEAD JUST LYING ON TABLE! And nothing much else except seeing a kid have his broken arm manipulated with no anaesthetic whilst screaming his lungs out. But we digress. To try and lighten the load we had one big bag and one little bag between us which we were to share over the four days. All in all our big pack weighed in around 15-20kgs for the first couple of days and our little pack weighed maybe 5kgs. The reason our packs weighed so much is because we took a heap of our own chocolate and gatorade because the vendor's on the trail charge an arm and a leg, people will pay anything when they are hungry, tired and thirsty and there is no other alternative. So we eventually got to the spot where we start walking from. The first day is pretty easy but we were carrying our bags plus a hangover each. We made it to our camp that night just before dark and had a pretty good dinner.

Inca Day 2:
Day 2 is the hardest. From about 2600m you climb for about 5 hours to 4200m. Rosie, another Aussie who lives in London called Andrew and I set a pretty cracking pace. It was actually one of the most physically exhausting things I've ever done. Rosie did the first leg with the big bag and that was very intense. I did the second leg with the big bag and I can honestly say I've never been so buggered or had to dig as deep as I did to get to the top. We got to the to top and began the 2 hour descent, which is bloody hard when you are knackered and takes more concentration to not fall over and face plant. Unfortunately day 2 was pretty cloudy and we didn't get the rolling views we were hoping for. Nonetheless we still got some pretty good views and nice photos. We rocked up to our camp for the night at midday and the next people got there at 1pm, at 4pm people were still getting in. In that time we had a quick lunch and went to bed before dinner. After dinner we went back to bed.

Inca Day 3:
Day 3 of the Inca Trail is gruelling as well. It has two climbs, one of 3800m from 3000m and one of 3500m from 3000m I think. If anyone can be bothered googling they may find some more accurate altitudes. Compared to day 2 it was a walk in the park but with aching knees, groins, calves, back, shoulders, quads etc etc it is still a significant challenge. Again it was overcast and we couldn't see as much as we'd like but we still saw two pretty amazing Inca ruins at the start and end of the day. At the end of day 3 there is a bar. We had some well earned Cerveza's and were allowed to take them to the Inca site. It was incredible to be walking around a 1000 year old ruin with a beer in the right mit and camera in the left. Felt like a bit of a bogan but it made for some good photos. We were stuffed at the end of the night so after a quiet 5 or so beers we went back to our tent.

Inca Day 4:
Day 4 is the day we go to Machu Pichu. We rise at 430 and leave around 5 to get there before the buses and trains roll in. It's meant to be an easy walk but you're exhausted to so it still poses some serious challenges. Its all worth it though when you get to the Sun Gate and see Machu Pichu below you. We went down and had a tour from a guide. She showed us through all the agriculturual areas and the spots where the kings, high priests and guards lived.
After the tour there is about 3 or 4 spare hours to do what you liked. Some caught the bus down the town and others just wandered. Rosie, Andrew and I climed another mountain next to Machu Pichu. It was very difficult getting up but very worth it. The views from the top were incredible. Looking down on Machu Pichu and around through all the mountain peaks. We were sitting on rocks with a half metre either side to certain death. Incredible.

Have to cut this blog short because people need to use the computer.

But got back that night at around 10pm and left early for 36 hours of travel to Antigua where I now sit.
Had a good night last night with the local rums but hit the wall so nothing too outrageous. Bit overcast today so probably no beach will get some things done.
Will post some photos over the next couple of days when I bring the cord.

I know Peter Bilionis doesn't read these but can someone tell him we discovered the greatest Club Sandwich in history. I took a photo and will post it shortly.

Call you today mum.

Posted by cadeabroad 08:35 Archived in Peru

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Hi boys,
How wonderful to wake up this morning (Sat) to find your latest entry. I've been hanging out to hear what you've been doing. It sounds like you're having an incredible time can't wait to see the photos. Overcast here today, footy started last night St Kilda beat Melbourne, Luke B got a big cut on his head - but is OK.

by Wolfmother

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