Cusco – Day 2 (Tipon and Oropesa)

July 17,2011

First sleep in Cusco was good. Needed 4 blankets to stay warm though! Still adjusting to the crazy temperature differences.

We left for Tipon mid-morning and walked to catch a mini-bus that would take us there. New to the city, we were all relying on Jordan, the 9-week veteran, to guide us there. Six of us made the trip – Jordan, Samantha, Katie, Oliver, Tom and myself.

The mini-bus to Tipon ended up costing only 2 Nuevos Soles. 1 Sol is around 40 cents so it cost us 80 cents for a bus ride. Everything is so cheap in Peru. I say cheap and not inexpensive because 2 Soles doesn’t mean a comfortable bus ride. Bumpy, cramped, smelly and hot. But you get what you pay for and the ride was only 45 minutes so it could have been worse.

Once in Tipon, Jordan didn’t waste any time finding us a Cuyeria.  As I mentioned before, cuy is guinea pig.  None of us wanted to try a whole one (and Sam’s veggie so she opted out completely) so we all shared one for 25 Soles.  It was ok.  Tastes like dark meat chicken or turkey.  Cuy comes with head and feet attached…

Other than a few good cuyerias, the thing to see in Tipon is the ruins.  We all got in a taxi that took us 4km up winding and bumpy roads to the site.  The ruins turned out to be pretty awesome.  Like a mini Machu Picchu.  I took a lot of pictures which I’m having trouble uploading with the slow connection here so they may have to wait until I return.

While we were visiting the Tipon ruins we bumped into some other “gringos” from Iowa who suggested we check out a town 2km away called Oropesa.  Apparently this town has the best bread in the area and also has a dinosaur park.  We all decided that bread and dinosaurs sounded awesome so we got a cab to take us on the back road to Oropesa.

We were dropped off in the middle of Oropesa town square where we were greeted by a huge sign that said Parco Jurassico.  That’s right.  We found Jurassic Park in Peru!  Ok, so it turned out to be a giant park full of dinosaur statues but still very nice and worth the admission price of one Sol.

We moved on to find some famous Oropesa bread.  Back in the town square we noticed the statue in the centre was of a woman and her child holding a basket of bread.  We were definitely in the right place!  The bakeries weren’t so obvious but I saw a sign that said Panificadora, which means bread making place, so we checked it out.  No store front or anything, just a random lady standing in the doorway.  Here’s how the conversation between Jordan and the lady went:

“Where can we find the best bread in Peru?” said Jordan

“Here.” said the lady

And then we all followed her to this shack full of giant round loaves.  We bought 2 and shared them in the square while we waited for the bus back to Cusco.  For plain bread without spreads or toppings, it was pretty good.

When the bus to Cusco finally arrived, there were tons of people waiting so we all had to stand up.  As mentioned, the roads are bumpy and these buses have no suspension system at all.  To make things worse, the bus attendant kept piling more and more people onto the bus until we couldn’t move at all, except when the brakes came on, then we all moved together as one.  At one point the bus attendant packed so many people on the bus that he didn’t leave room for himself and he was hanging outside the door while the bus was moving for a good 5 minutes.

Now obviously if you have any issues with motion sickness, these buses are not the best place for you, especially when you are standing and crammed in.  Sam was the first to break and realize she couldn’t stay on the bus any longer.  She started saying vomitar to the other passengers and they got the idea.  No way we were going to let Sam get off in some random spot by herself so we all got off at the next stop and waited while Sam found a bathroom at a nearby gas station.  Across from the gas station was a bakery, so of course I bought some pastry thing filled with caramel and shared with the group.  

Knowing we were in Cusco, but not sure exactly where, we started walking down the street the bus was taking.  Our motion sickness victims were not ready for a bus or taxi yet so walking was the best option.  Turns out we were in San Jeronimo which is pretty far from our housing downtown.  We ended up walking through San Jeronimo, past the Cusco penitentiary(huge signs in Spanish saying “if you come any closer we will shoot you”), and into the San Sebastien area before we realized it how far away we still were from home.  Getting dark and feeling better, we jumped on a minibus which wasn’t so packed and continued along the road which ended up dropping us off right at our street.  Cost of the bus ride: 60 centimos or 24 cents.

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