After almost two weeks of rustic living and temple exploring, we began our tourist life in Cusco. The group arrived in Cusco late in the afternoon, eager to explore the city. After finding our rooms and unpacking, we departed to find some dining options. Bacchus could tell that the group was still feeling the effects of our five-day trek to Choquequirao, so our first dinner was right around the corner from our accommodations. Excited by seeing the first menu since we arrived, everybody ordered something different: from lamb ribs to guinea pig. Around the table, the dynamic of the group was different. The service project and trek were both beyond fun, but at this point, everyone was ready for some tourist time.
The group woke up on day two ready to explore the city. We began with a stroll to the Plaza de Armas, looking at the variety of shops along the way. Everybody in the group was at ease after not having to get up at 5:00 am or worry about whether their shoes and clothes were dry. In order to decrease attention focused on the very large group of gringos, we divided into three groups to conduct our own exploration of the center of town. I was able to get my own taste of Peruvian espresso while others exchanged their American currency for Peruvian soles. Shortly thereafter, we met up with Bacchus back at the plaza. Once we reassembled, Bacchus told us that he had a surprise. Unexpectedly Vladimir, our guide from Colca, showed up to give us a tour of his city. We started out at Mercado San Pedro. We all stuffed our faces with local fare topped off with smoothies. From there, we admired trinkets and every form of coca product.
When we finished the exploration of the market we hopped on a public bus to some ruins above the city. Vladimir recounted the stories, history, and meaning of the ruins. Finally, we hiked up to the statue of Cristo Blanco and the requisite opportunity to take photos with llamas that is present at all tourist sites in the country. At this point, Vladimir had to say goodbye to us, but we still had a few items to see in town. Our last tourist stop for the day was the Pre-Columbian Art Museum, where we added to our understanding of the Incan Empire. Finally, we ended up at the highlight of my time in Cusco. To call it a sandwich shop would be an understatement. It was the sandwich shop. The Peruvians take their Sangucherias seriously, and at Chola Soy we indulged in every kind of sandwich on the menu. I particularly enjoyed the suckling pig. It was a perfect sendoff, as we would be departing for Lake Titicaca early the next morning.
~Joseph, High School Senior