A Beautiful Adventure

On the Road Again...

Tag: Peru with a toddler

Peru 2015: Cusco…

Saturday night was horrible. I was really sick, but so was Little Monkey. He developed a horrible cough and was vomiting. JZ stayed up all night checking on him. By morning he had a cough that sounded like croup (except at the time, we didn’t know it sounded like croup and were just horrified by the sound!). I had never heard a more horrible sound in all my life.

Sunday morning, Jake went and got breakfast for us and brought it back to the room while I stayed with the babe. The plan was for the family to attend mass together but I went alone so that JZ and Little Monkey could rest. I stood in the back of the cathedral during mass. After mass I visited the different stations and prayed, in a very real way, for the health and life of my child. I had never been so scared before. I know for certain that the unfamiliarity of a foreign country had a lot to do with that. We ended up walking to a 24-hour travel clinic, only to discover that they actually do home visits. I’m actually glad we ended up at the clinic though because the doctor was very worried and needed certain equipment he wouldn’t have had on hand. When a doctor that doesn’t speak your language very well, and you don’t speak his, has fear in his eyes after examining your child, shit gets real. He gave our little one a steroid injection to help him breath, and oxygen. Also, letting a foreign doctor give your baby any medications is fucking terrifying. Excuse the profanities, but that is how it felt! We had to make a decision and fast, and ultimately we decided to trust the doctor. The doctor was adamant that we needed a pediatrician immediately or to go to the hospital. He was so kind and was able to find a pediatrician willing to come to the clinic on a Sunday evening and examine our sick baby. Eventually, the conclusion was that Little Monkey had an ear infection that spread and was causing his cough. The good news was that it was not a respiratory issue. We were told to cancel our plans to Puno and stay in Cusco until the doctor cleared him for travel back to Lima.  We were given several medications and scheduled a follow up for Tuesday evening. The pediatrician predicted that if he had in fact diagnosed correctly, the medication should work almost immediately. If anything got worse we were to call the doctor and they would both meet up with us again or meet us at the hospital.

Canceling our plans to Puno wasn’t difficult. We were originally going to take a night bus Monday night into Puno, so no need to cancel any flights or trains going that way. We lost a deposit on our hostel but that was $10 or less. The hassle was changing our flight to Lima. Instead of taking a flight from Puno to Lima, with a layover in Cusco, we needed to just take a flight from Cusco. Sounds easy enough, but it was absolutely horrific. I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details, but if you can possibly ever avoid flying LAN airlines you should run away in the other direction as fast as possible. Every single detail about their customer service during this stressful incident was nightmarish. Enough…

The good news is that he did improve within 24 hours, as the pediatrician had predicted. We kept him wrapped up warm and nursed him back to health, but still experienced, explored and enjoyed our time in Cusco. Instead of a few nights in Cusco we stayed there a week. By the time we checked out of the hostel Little Monkey had pretty much been adopted into the family!

Mural on Av El Sol. During the walk "home" from the doctor visit.

Mural on Av El Sol.
During the walk “home” from the doctor visit.

Peru 2015: Arrival to Cusco

Leaving Aguest Calientes, the adventure began to take a turn for the worse. I wasn’t able to get a call through to our hostel and was hoping that they would receive my email regarding our transportation. I had requested pick up from the train station, but with the strike we wouldn’t be getting in until at least midnight. I wasn’t sure if they got it, and what we would do if we didn’t have someone waiting for us. Also, Litlte Monkey had come down with a fever and a stuffy nose.

It was about 2am when we finally arrived at the station, nobody waiting for us. We arranged a taxi for 40 soles, which was actually less than the pre-arranged price of 60. We got to our hostel late, having to knock on the door and wake the night manager. He said “we sent someone for you, they waited until 10:30pm”. Guess they didn’t get the message.

Our room was really nice. It had a little sitting room, mini fridge, a big bed, a crib, a small balcony and a shower with consistent hot water. Orquidea Real Hostal. It is in a prime location, about two blocks from the town square/cathedral, on the edge of the artsy San Blas and walking distance to Av El Sol. A nice, warm breakfast is included every morning until 9am. It is quiet; not a party hostel. We saw a lot of families and were some of the youngest guests there. The family that takes care of the place is very nice and helpful, but they don’t speak English very well. The night manager actually speaks the best English, but you don’t see him much.

Saturday we were lazy. Little Monkey seemed to have come down with a cold and we were all exhausted from traveling. We cuddled in bed and relaxed the day away. Watching cartoons and How I Met Your Mother in Spanish or with Spanish subtitles is a great way to improve your foreign language skills and to entertain a sicky baby. Saturday night we ventured out for fresh air and dinner. We found a comfortable restaurant (Los Tomines) with great service and hot soup.  Our server treated us to house made Cocoa Pisco shots. This gave us a bit of energy to explore. After dinner, we followed the sound of fire works and found our to way to Plaza de Armas, at the cathedral, where towers of fireworks were being set off. It seemed as though Little Monkey wasn’t the only one not feeling well, as I also had felt sick all day and still did; so we decided to call the night short and keeping Little Monkey bundled up tight, we walked back to our room. Inadvertently, we found ourselves at the famous, historical, Inkan wall. We snapped a selfie and enjoyed the scene as we strolled. To our enjoyment and surprise, once settled and cozy back inside, we could still enjoy the fireworks show from our balcony!

I remember later speaking with our friend Mr. Lima and he says to me “Cusco has some magic about it doesn’t it?”. Yes it does, indeed.

The magic of Cusco, from our balcony!

The magic of Cusco, from our balcony!

Peru 2015: Machu Picchu

Our itinerary had us scheduled for an early Thursday morning departure from Ollantaytambo with the intention of staying the night in Aguas Calientes, a small tourist town at the base of Machu Picchu. Our tickets for Machu Picchu were for Friday, and we were planning on doing the 5:30am bus ride up to the ruins. Because of the Perurail strike our plans changed. We spent much of Thursday in line at the train station, due to rumors that the trains may run or that we could somehow get to Aguas Calientes that night. We even looked into hiring a taxi to take us as far as the hydrostation and then hiking 2-4 hours in, but eventually ruled that out, as we did not want to be hiking in the dark with the baby on our back. Everything worked out eventually. Turns out I forgot to actually book us a hostel in Aguas Calientes for Thursday night, so we weren’t out any money there. We were able to hop into a hostel close to the Ollantaytambo train station before the crowds hit. We were legitimately concerned that we would be without a place to sleep that night having been stranded in Ollantaytambo with so many others, including a school district field trip of about 60 ten year olds. We made the best of our extra night in Ollantaytambo, eating at our favorite spot one more time, Puka Rumi.

Perurail put us on the first available train out of Ollantaytambo, but we were disappointed that it didn’t stop through our station until 10:30am, putting us in Aguas Calientes at noon. We were really hoping to still be able to get to Machu Picchu by early morning. Nothing we could do about it though so we picked up a boxed lunch from Hearts Café on our way out of town and loaded onto the train.

The train provided plenty of food and we needn’t have purchased a box lunch. A lovely American couple, newly engaged, sat across from us. They had been re-scheduling their travel plans for three days and were cutting it close, barely getting to Machu Picchu…until the train in front of us was derailed! One of the InkaRail trains was derailed; luckily there were no injuries. This caused more than a two hour delay for us, but all in all it backed up the entire train system until 6pm that night! We eventually had to unload our train, walk around the derailed train and load onto another train that carried us into Aguas Calientes.


transferring trains

transferring trains

When we finally arrived in Aguas Calientes at 2:30pm it was torrential downpour of rain! We fumbled around with our decision making, at first thinking we should gamble with our permit- hoping we could use it the next day and just grab a hostel in town to wait out the storm. Well, we couldn’t find a hostel available, and the weather forecast wasn’t much better for the next day. After wasting twenty minutes or so, we ran for the bus station, purchased our tickets and headed towards Machu Picchu. The scariest part of this entire adventure: the bus ride up the mountain! The rain had dwindled to a drizzle by the time we bought our bus tickets. It continued to drizzle a little as we hiked up, but at the moment we arrived to the look out the rain stopped, the clouds dispersed and it was as though angels were singing our welcome (specifically my grandma, since it would have been her 85th birthday this day!). It misted for another minute or two and then the rest of our time exploring Machu Picchu was sunny and clear! It was such a beautiful way to honor my grandma on her birthday and to experience one of the wonders of the world!

After checking this off our bucket list we still had to wait out the train station delay. We took advantage of the extra time and explored little Aguas Calientes. We treated ourselves to beers and a fruit juice for Little Monkey at a cozy, posh little restaurant where we sat on a couch and toasted to our success. Wondering if the couple ever made it to Machu Picchu or not, because we knew for certain that three others had to cancel their trip, because of the rail strike. We were glad we made it, and also glad that we had scheduled Machu Picchu in the middle of our trip and not right at the end. When traveling, especially in a developing country, leave room for mishaps!

Machu Picchu Success!

Machu Picchu Success!





These sites were incredibly helpful in my preparations for Machu Picchu:
I saved a lot of money by using the above site and getting my permit through the Peruvian government, even though many books and sites will say it’s not possible.