After the Inca trail we made our way to the nearby town of Aguas Calientes for a couple of days rest and relaxation before we returned to Cuzco. Our first afternoon was spent visiting the many local shops and markets to look for souvenirs ranging from chess sets to ponchos to the ever popular stripy trousers. The leaders explained to us that we would be given a certain amount of money a day per person to buy our own meals, something which was enjoyed by everyone, as we found a wide variety of foods to suit our own tastes (and budgets).
The next morning we visited the hot springs at the edge of the town. It was particularly enjoyable to sit in the hot, slightly yellow, water and feel the assorted aches and pains from the Inca trail be soaked away. Several people decided that moving from the coldest pool to the hottest at high speed was a good plan, leading to some pretty funny reactions when they realized that the hot pools felt somewhat hotter.
After another afternoon of browsing the shops and markets, it was time for us to leave for Cuzco, which meant a train journey from Aguas Calientes to Ollyontambo, and then a bus trip from Ollyontambo to Cuzco. The train journey turned out to be quite different from one in the UK. We where first treated to a demonstration of a local dance, in which the train staff would dance up and down the isles which was brilliant. Near the end of the journey the staff started to do a catwalk down the isle with Peruvian clothes that you could buy!
We arrived in Cusco late in the night and fell straight to sleep as the journey had been very tiring. We got up late in the morning as everyone decided they wanted a rest. We changed hotels that day to a smaller hotel but it meant that we had the run of the place. That night we went out to celebrate Alex´s birthday in a pizzeria in which we consumed many family sized pizza´s. The Snake patrol (originally the Owl Monkeys, changed because the snakes are cooler) presented Alex with a toy snake to remind him of his patrol in Peru. Also Alex had a massive cake which he soon plunged his face in! We left the pizzeria to go to a karaoke session where people (Bertie, Joe D, Joe B, Ross and James) attempted to sing “living on a prayer”, “livin la viva loca” and “breaking free”. This sent the tone for the rest of the evening.
On the 28th we went to visit different scout units across Cusco, me, Dave, Katrina, John and Will visited the La Salle scout unit. Even though their was a language barrier the scouts made us feel very welcome and involved in all of the games we played with them which included duck, duck goose and kick the bucket. We did flag break and flag down with them in a similar fashion as we do in England but they say a prayer each time. Nearer the end we exchanged Scarves and email address´s so that we would remember the experience.
Rafael had arranged for us to go to a restaurant in Tipon (A town close to Cusco) to try Guinea pig. Most people had half a Guinea Pig, it tasted similar to rabbit and was accompanied by stuffed peppers and salad. It was definitely a great experience and something that everyone wanted to try, it is also a great thing to tell my sister that I have eaten a Guinea Pig as she has two of them!
Andrew, Joe D