The overland route from Huacachina to Cuzco doesn’t look so bad. Until you zoom in.
Then you see the many twisting, hairpin turns. Normally not at all a problem for me – especially on Peru’s luxury buses with cushy, broad, reclining seats. But during the ride, the inevitable Big Bout of Food Poisoning finally struck, and it was an epic struggle managing the consequences while being slammed around in the bus bathroom.
Needless to say, we did nothing but sleep our first day in Cuzco. I had a nightmare that stayed with me till the sun rose that I was descending a mountain via a maze and had gotten trapped in a dead end, where I would die. Even when I woke up, I was in such a delirious state that I thought the danger was still real. Elise slept peacefully though the night, thank God.
On day 2, we managed to walk 10 paces to a tiny, organic restaurant across the street for basic soup broth and Peruvian mate tea, which helped. But that night I had more nightmares about death. My childhood home had been replaced by a gigantic yellow brick bridge tower. The bridge was so high up it was terrifying. A Czech friend had built a house beneath it, but I could see that the construction was haphazard. And then, from way on high, the bricks started falling in clusters and her roof gave in. Everyone was running out in a panic, but my friend didn’t make it and was crushed under the bricks. I woke up terrified and aching all over.
Finally, on Day 3, we felt good enough to venture into town.
We were immediately rewarded by seeing an alpaca and lamb accompanied by two ladies in traditional Peruvian dress. Elise was beside herself! And I loved the alpaca’s big, round, fluffy head and cute knock knees, and I thought it was adorable that one of the ladies had held up her colorful skirt to show off the pattern – like a big little girl. Of course, they – and even the Inca Sun God – expected a few soles for their modeling. It was all very touristy and light-hearted – just what we needed after having returned from the dead.