I needed to look after an emergency matter first thing this morning that required me to stay back in Cusco so I didn’t join the group until they arrived at tonight’s hotel. They were well looked after by 2 exceptional local guides. Our main guide stayed with me and was a huge help. It was wonderful having a personal translator but overall many of the locals manage well speaking English.
I recall when I first came to Peru three decades ago. Back then Peru’s most famous attraction, Macchu Picchu was pretty quiet the day I visited – had it pretty much to myself. We are currently visiting Peru in the shoulder season. High season starts in April. This time of year 2500 tourists a day visit Machu Picchu. When high season arrives they welcome 8000 tourists a day!
Cusco is filled with tourists and its just shoulder season – in high season it must be like Disney World!
The locals understand the financial importance of attracting tourists and they have done an exceptional job welcoming them.
My passenger have noticed how many US student tourists are currently visiting. I recall when I was in school the big school trip went to Northern Ontario – how times have changed. The senior groups come from all over world.
Even with this massive tourism boom we have no idea how all the little stores/restaurants make a go of it.
The locals are just trying to survive and in Peru like much of world it can’t be easy. I asked our main local guide (at times we have 3) if he often goes out to eat with his family – he said of course, “maybe once a month” – how many North Americans dine out a few times a week?
You need to be careful everywhere you travel and Peru has a bit of a bad wrap but so far we have not been in a situation where we have felt uncomfortable. Pickpockets are a worldwide problem so men need to remember to keep wallets in a front pocket. The local guides told me to make sure that 4 of my passengers who were wanting to go to the “highest elevation Irish Bar” on St Patricks Day in Cusco, cab back to the hotel. The streets are narrow and at night are dark. Anywhere in world one needs to take the same precautions.
Want to become a cab driver – there are thousands of them but only a small percentage are legit. Anyone can purchase taxi signs for a couple of dollars. So its always best to have a restaurant/lounge/hotel staff member call a cab for you instead of hailing one from the street.
With so many cabs on the road that adds to traffic gridlock. Female traffic police are everywhere – we were told that females are hired because they are more strict than the men! They certainly look official.
It was mid afternoon before the local guide and I were transferred by a private driver/car to the restaurant where my group had enjoyed an excellent luncheon (2 hours from Cusco). As usual the Peruvians were so accommodating, leaving this restaurant open passed their lunch time just for the two of us.
This restaurant was just beautiful and the setting a postcard with green covered mountains in the distance – reminded me of Hawaii – without the palm trees but flowers blooming everywhere.
After lunch the “Sol Alpaca” store which is located in the the end of the restaurant was still open so of course I had to take a peak – they saw me coming and showed me their 50% off table… beautiful products.
Many of the restaurant staff came over and wanted to know how I liked their food (they insisted that I need to try the local sweet potato Picarones) and they asked me questions about Canada.
Considering there are thousands of taxis in the country when we asked the staff to call a taxi for us they looked bewildered – there are no taxis in this rural area! After a number of phone calls our local guide finally found one with some help from a co-worker all the way in Lima.
When the taxi arrived the driver was once again dressed professionally and his car was sparkling clean inside and out. When filling cars with petro the locals rock their car claiming they can get more fuel in the tank that way?
We traveled down many country roads where the school children are dressed in their red uniforms, ladies walk with their alpacas, and we passed a lively outdoor fiesta event (decorated pavilions, bbq) in honor of married couples.
Many homes have a unfinished upper floor. In much fo the world this is for a tax savings but here that floor is reserved for children that come home to live with their parents later in life. The family saves funds and when the children are going to move in they finish the construction.
When we arrived at the hotel the settling took my breath away. What a beautiful 5 star resort.
We were warmly welcomed. I was able to arrange for sweet goodies to be delivered to my passengers rooms.
In turn the local guide and I were presented with a Pisco Sour – the national drink – so refreshing but sweet – Pisco (often infused with ingredients such as turmeric, lemon grass, pineapple), fresh lime juice and finally egg whites – all blended with some ice.
Our group dinner was excellent. The dining room was full because there are many senior groups staying here – mainly US and German. The dining room is well designed – groups have their own private sections.
The fireplace was roaring in the lobby. In the hotel rooms heat comes on automatically at 5pm – I haven’t noticed AC units in any hotel.
We experience a wide range of weather temps daily. We definitely need to wear layers. Mornings and evenings are often very cool – by late morning/afternoon its usually hot.
My group reported having a wonderful day and they are getting very excited because our visit to Macchu Pichu is around the corner.