I arrived in Cuzco today. This is two days in a row that I happy to be alive. Kinda like Ben. This morning I go to Santiago airport about 5 am. That was fun. I have a few years of Spanish under my belt, but I might as well have learned Chinese. They speak Castellano in Chile. The don't call it Spanish because of the oppression that the Spanish inflicted on the native people of South America. Now the native people refuse to speak Spanish that anyone else can understand.
They refuse to pronounce "s" so even if they ask you if you speak Spanish, pardon me Castellano, they say, "¿Hablas Castellano?"
But is sounds like, "¿Blah kah tay ah no?"
Luckily by the blank stares they receive, they already know the answer before I open my mouth. I digress, my time in Chile is over.
I flew to Lima, uneventfully. I got on the flight to Cuzco and there was a lady in my seat. I asked for a window seat because I was told that the approach to the town of Cuzco if beautiful. She seemed engrossed in her book and not too concerned that she was in my seat. So I sat beside her in the middle seat. And then I looked out the window as much as possible. I could tell this bothered her because she would glance up from her book at me, and then sigh, and shift her body uncomfortably. I made sure to hold shift my boarding pass in my hands as I leaned my head closer to the window.
The arrival into Cuzco is a lot of fun. The town is in a bowl shaped valley at the top of the Andes. If our landing gear was down I think that our wheels would have clipped the trees at the top of the mountains. We circled the valley trying to get closer and closer to the houses. Just as I was sure that we were going to crash, we pulled off some amazing 90 degree turn and simultaneously dropped about 200 meters. Now we were in the valley. I could see the runway, but we looked to be another 300 meters above it, and we were flying parallel to it. No problem. Just one impossible 180 degree turn, drop 300 meters so that my butt raises out of my seat, and my seat belt it digging into my thighs. We come screaming down the runway and somehow manage to land, no problem. It was like being on a roller coaster ride, or flying a fighter jet. As we slowed down on the tarmac I heard about 20 sighs of relief. Mine was one of them, but I was also grinning like an idiot, wanting to do it again.
When I got into the airport to collect my bags I had to walk slowly to catch my breath. Being over 3,350 meters (11,000 feet) really makes it difficult to breathe. My first impression of Peru was pretty typical. There was a "native" band playing local music. The same Peruvian pipes that you here in Waikiki, Austin, New York, London, were playing in the airport in Cuzco. The gringos were stomping their feet, taking pictures of the band, and smiling, happy to be in a place that they immediately love. It reminded me of the haoles that try and hula as soon as the arrive in Hawai'i. Our bags were trying to make it around to the dancing gringos, but the conveyor belt wasn't working. So we tried to manually slide everyone's bags around. Of course most people were too enthralled with the music to realize that their bags weren't coming out. I tried to help, but sliding a bag a couple of meters really made me tired. Then I would start laughing because I am not used to being so out of breath. This of course made it harder to breathe. Eventually, I got my stuff and got to my hostel.
On another note, this proves our dangerous triathlon training can be.