Cusco: The Navel of the World

After a great two weeks in Costa Rica, we found ourselves at the airport.
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It felt like the vacation was over and it was time to head home.  But no, we were flying onwards to Peru!  After a long day of travel, we found our way to our first AirBnB in Cusco, Peru.  The cool air was wonderfully refreshing after our stay in Costa Rica, giving us the first occasion of our trip to break out long pants and jackets.

The stairs up didn’t look too bad; something we would normally run up two at a time.
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But, both of us found ourselves panting with a headache by the second landing.  Cusco is 11,000 feet above sea level, and it would take us a few days to get acclimated to 2/3 of an atmosphere.  When we did get to the top, however, we were greeted with a beautiful panorama.
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We really took to the city, and decided to make Cusco our home base for the next two weeks, with a couple short excursions to Machu Picchu and the Amazon. The vibe was great; on one hand, it has a wealth of historical Incan sites, stonework, and culture,
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(together with some more “modern” construction).
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And on the other, a European vibe with a wonderful assortment of food options both local and foreign. One of our favorite dishes was Lomo saltado, a flavorful local beef dish; but we also had excellent ceviche, green curry, pizza, and Sarah even discovered a newfound love for crepes (which she previous disdained).
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This lomo saltado was actually not made with beef — it was this tender and graceful alpaca.
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We also managed to find several IPAs in Cusco, which was a great change from the lager that’s typically been the only option thus far on the trip.
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Even the dogs in Cusco had an interesting and different culture.
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Everywhere we would go, we’d see dogs running by, as if on an important mission — with no master in sight. They seemed like strays, but were generally well groomed and friendly. One night, we actually befriended a small pack and they followed us a mile or so back to our hostel (after which they fought outside our window all night).

All in all, we both really loved Cusco, and hope to come back and visit sometime. Our next country is Argentina, but before that, we’ll share some details of our side trips to Machu Picchu and the Amazon!