We made it

16 09 2009

I think exhaustion would be the most fitting word to describe both Margo and me when we finally arrived in Cusco.  After leaving Detroit we had a brief stop in Houston before making our way to Lima. We had an 8 hour layover so, after the cleaning crew kicked us off the row of chairs we had confiscated, we spent the rest of the night on the freezing cold airport floor.

When we arrived in Cusco, Rudy, the taxi-driver, was waiting for us. Breathing hard, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it up the small hill from the Plaza de Armas to Hostel Suecia, but eventually we settled in with some coca tea – the locals sworn cure for just about everything including adjusting to the altitude. 

Our first day, we explored the city before taking a nap. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get out of bed again, but we managed to pry ourselves away and do some more exploring. We spent the better part of the afternoon camped in the Plaza de Armas enjoying the sunshine, people-watching, and chatting with/avoiding street vendors. 

Later, we ate dinner at Jack’s and met some girls from California. The Plaza is very vibrant and alive at night so we walked around some more – taking in different aspects of the city.

 We sat in front of the main cathedral for awhile and I was stuck by one of the little girls who was walking around selling things. All day a simple “No, gracias” was sufficient for curbing the advances of street vendors. But, this little girl plopped down right next to me on the steps and wouldn’t leave.

 She countered every possible decline I could think of. Finally I laughed and started saying “No, no, no, no, no” really fast. She erupted into giggles as she tried to keep up with the number of “Si”s she shot back. When I told her I didn’t need whatever the knickknack was she was selling, she insisted I did. When I said “Maybe later,” she shoved it onto my lap and coolly insisted, “Now,” before exploding into more giggles. “Para ti, amiga, muy barrato.”

 I felt really bad. I didn’t want or need what she was selling, but it was hard to watch. At seven or eight, this little girl was forced to be a savvy business woman – all too aware of the impact her sales would have. Yet, it was so obvious that she was just a child – eager for attention and fun. It was heartbreaking to see the collision of two worlds that should never intersect.

Our home away from home

Our home away from home

Hanging with my new friend on the steps

Hanging with my new friend on the steps




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