The bus ride to Cusco was 17 hours, but it wasn't bad at all. I paid for a regular seat on the double decker bus, but ended up getting one of the bed seats for some reason. So I had ample leg room and slept prettymuch the whole time!
Cruising into Cusco was beautiful! I loved Pisco, but going from there to Cusco was the asthetic equivalent of going from Bush to Obama.
Shot from the bus window:
I spent my first few nights at a hostel. A few of my friends from PSF had given me hand-written directions to an apartment they had stayed in a few months earlier. On my third day in Cusco, my plan was to head there and see if I could rent a room. My plan was interrupted when one of the many street vendors got my attention.
It was a kid selling paintings. At first I said no to him, because I had bought a painting the day before. He was persistent though, and soon I was looking at what he had to offer.
I really liked one of the watercolors he had, and I needed gifts. We haggled a bit and settled on a price. I didn't have correct change to pay for the piece, however. I offered to buy the kid lunch to cover the rest. He said this would work.
So we sat down in a restaurant and began to chat (in Spanish!). I helped him with some English homework he was working on. Eventually, I told him I was going to check out the apartment after lunch. I never made it to the apartment.
The kid said his family had a room available at their house. I decided I'd check it out. After all, what's the worst that could happen? getting robbed, raped and murdered?
It's about a ten minute bus ride from the center of town up to the Vargas' house. It's in a neighborhood above the city called Chinchero. The house boasts impressive views of the surrounding mountains, forests and the city.
View from Chincero:
The room looked good, and the family seemed nice enough to not leave me in a ditch, so I decided to rent the room - It was a good deal too!
My back yard:
Living with the Vargas family has been great. It's been almost a month now, and I think my Spanish has improved more from talking with the family than it would have paying $100 a week for Spanish classes.
Mi familia Peruana:
From front/left to back/right: goddaughter Florangela, son Antony, daughter Michelle, father Elias, and mother Berta... and a fatty piece of bread.