One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live
The next day in Nazca – Dec. 9 – I walked around. I ate some freshly fried fish and a salad, and sat in the park.
Again, I was amazed by how friendly some strangers can be.
I was sitting on a bench taking pictures of the plaza when I noticed this fellow sleeping on the bench next to mine.
I quickly snapped the shot, and continued watching other people.
About half an hour later, he woke up and invited me to sit beside him, noting that there was too much sun where I was. I took a seat beside him in the shade and he talked about where I was from and what I was doing.
After chatting for a while, he left for a snack.
About 10 minutes after he walked away, school was let out and two teens took his place.
“De donde eres?” they started the conversation, as most people do.
“De Canadá,” I replied, as per usual.
“Ahhh, Canadá,” they said, and started asking questions about Canada.
They asked where else I had been, and what those countries were like. They told me about the school system in Nazca, how they were both in colegio and wanted further education. I found out Julinio wanted to be a clothing designer and Cynthia wanted to be a police officer.
After about half an hour of chat, I grabbed a photo of them and left for lunch.
* * *
That night, I took the overnight bus to Cusco.
At about 11 a.m. the next day, we had a “bathroom” stop (a.k.a. Hole-In-The-Ground stop) beside an itsy-bitsy collection of houses too small to be a hamlet.
Being a little bit dizzy, I asked the altitude. A nearby local woman laughed and said she had no idea. A passenger said we were more or less 4,000 m above sea level. Looking at the path we took on Google Maps now, I see that our voyage took us up to about 4,500 m.
* * *
At about 2 p.m. we reached Cusco, which sits at a measly 3,400 m.
I hopped off the bus and put on my backpack, unsure of what to do.
A few days previous, I had sent an e-mail to someone from an organization called Cooperarperu, the response (which didn’t provide a name) said I might be able to help out and stay with them if I gave them a time frame. I responded with “maybe tomorrow?” but I didn’t get an answer.
All I knew was that they were located in a building dubbed La Caja Magica. I had an address, but information on the internet about this place was scarce.
I took a cab there anyway.
The taxi took me to a small housing complex with about eight units connected to an outdoor stone staircase. A woman let me into the “building,” and told me to knock on some doors.
Eventually I found the right place, a two-storey unit undergoing renovations.
I met three volunteers for the organization. One of them, by the name of Gustavo, tasked himself with showing me the highlights of the city in eight hours.
We ate lunch. We visited the walls of old Inca palaces. We visited a plaza. We walked-walked-walked. My breath started getting short, my muscles sore. We visited the market, and I bought some coca leaves to chew. We continued walking. He showed me a famous stone in an Inca wall, which was cut to have 12 angles. It fit so tightly with its neighbouring stones that you could not stick a piece of paper between them.
We then returned to La Caja Magica, and we watched the new Alice in Wonderland.
A couple of empanadas and a salteña later, I was back on a bus – ready for an overnight trip to La Paz.
* * *
The trip to La Paz was uneventful. Even the border was easy to get through. I just wanted to get there.
I think the highlight of driving to La Paz was stopping in a place with the same name as a song that played a role in my childhood: Copacabana.
Barry Manilow was the backdrop to many a car ride to and from my grandparents’ houses in Bramalea. Stopping in the town made me smile.
After a 16-hour drive, we finally rolled into the city.
More on that in my next post.