1. Meds will not save you. At some point you will feel/be sick– so unless you plan on being the “boy in the bubble”, accept that fact in life. In the states, you can’t always prevent illness so why would it be different anywhere else. Your preventative medicines are helpful, as are common sense good health practices, but you’re gonna get “funny tummy” at some point (discussed further in Tip 9). Before you travel to Peru you will be recommended a Hep A shot, tetanus, flu, and typhoid fever. This will leave your arms sore for days but is a small price to pay, speaking of pay— normal insurance covered all my shots except the typhoid fever shot.
You are also recommended malaria pills, antibiotics, sleep aid, and the coveted altitude pills. Make sure to get the Malerone Malaria pills as they have less to no side effects. Antibiotics are to help with any ahem–unwanted and uncontrolled bowel movements–aka “funny tummy” which as mentioned, will occur at some point no matter how “careful” you are. Sleep aid wasn’t needed in my case as the time in Peru is only an hour difference. And altitude meds might lessen symptoms, but I took them religiously and still suffered from symptoms– as altitude sickness has no rhyme or reason as to whom is susceptible to it. Young or old, fit or fat —no one beyond getting sick.
2. Toilet paper is a luxury. Ever been stranded in a stall at the movie theatre or restaurant sans TP and prayed someone In the stall next to you was there and could reach under and rescue you with some under the stall TP action?! It doesn’t happen often in the states, but in those moments we realize how much we love some TP. Toilet paper in Cusco Peru is rare, so you must bring your own with you or forever drip dry. And when you do have some toilet paper—do not think about flushing it. Put it in the trash bin next to the toilet as their sewer system can not handle the paper. (I failed on this many times, only after flushing catching myself going Ohhhh shheeet) Per number 1— even you guys are gonna need toilet paper at some point during your stay — if you smell what I’m stepping in. Lol. Quickly you will realize that toilet paper and toilet seats are a luxury.
In Cusco,if you have the luxury of a public bathroom consisting of four walls of and roof, you will usually find the toilet paper rolls outside the bathroom and/or outside the stalls. More often than not those will be empty and you will be sh*t out of luck literally if you didn’t bring any. On top of that, we found 8 out of 10 toilets have no seat to sit on. That makes the bathroom experience particularity interesting folks. Lastly, any excursion that you embark on will likely be in area where your bathroom is any outdoor area you that you feel comfortable relieving yourself. We found out quickly our tour guide always had a great recommendation for where we should go hide to pee. We even quicker realized they tell everyone about those same spots because when we would get to our secret spot there was always tissues and ahem….turds. Ehhhhh. Minefield to maneuver over but when you gotta go you gotta go I guess.
3 – You live in a country of opportunity so take the risk. Make a leap of faith every once in a while and if you don’t succeed it’s ok. Try again. Or try something else. Your options are limitless only to your own fear. That’s right even you who is in the “pits of life” —living off a friends couch;laid off work; barely making ends meet; working so much you only work,sleep, and eat. Cusco is such a great reminder of how blessed we are and how much we take for granted. Let me paint you a picture. As we go by town after town of dusty buildings I see shacks and small cubes as homes; stray dogs all over; young kids walking by the streets alone for long stretches; little three wheel carts for taxis; clothes hanging to dry on lines outside of each home; elderly ladies hunched over permanently from years of carrying loads of corn and quinoa on their back; pay phones as likely many here can’t afford cell phones and certainly not the treasured iPhone we would all surely die without. We found out that many of these smaller towns don’t even have running water.
They are farmers and live off their crops and animals. Life here is simple at best and a lot of hard work. We drove by towns with kids playing soccer and sitting outside drinking Inca Cola and chatting, waving at the tour buses constantly running through their town. That is their life. Full time. And I doubt if their kid grows up and doesn’t want to grow corn or take care of the family llamas s/he has too many other options. How blessed are we?! Even when we go through hard seasons where we work too much or make not enough or lose a job. We have the ability to change our livelihood. To redirect our path and our limitations are only as big as our fears. Cusco was a great reminder of the endless possibilities and opportunities we have. Here’s few extra tidbits of advice for those interested in visiting Cusco and the Machu Picchu area.
4- Waynu Picchu is amazing and priceless to hike with views for days
but if you want to add a little extra physical challenge go the extra to Temple of the moon. It says its an additional 3-4 hr hike but we did the whole thing including the initial Wayna Picchu in roughly 2:30, as fairly in shape 30somethings.
And PS—the natives have larger lungs than you (our tour guide told us this little fact) so while they may seem slightly less physically fit and a foot shorter, do not try to race them up the mountain, you may win but you will spend the next 5 minutes gasping for oxygen while they take a nap waiting for you to recover
5- Reading or sleeping in the hour plus rides to/from anything in Cusco is impossible. Between the speed bumps in towns, slowing down for dogs in the street, and curving around mountains it’s a quick recipe for even the most solid of stomachs to be forced to look out the front window instead of catch up on sleep or a book.
6- If the altitude makes you sick ask for Oxygen. Most nice hotels in Cusco have an oxygen tank ready and at no charge it can be delivered to your room for a quick 10 minutes in the event of altitude sickness. Here are some of the amazing hotels we stayed in while .
7- Be prepared to spend a lot of money on water. You can’t even use the water to brush your teeth in Peru so a daily cost will be in waters to accompany you in your journey and fill your camelback or canteen (you can not bring bottled water into Machu Picchu
8- Don’t take pictures of or entertain the
cutelocals in the traditional garb–or you will need to pay them or run. Not in a scary way, but dang….. they are persistent. So cute they are in their bright colors and petting the baby llama with its cute hat
“Miss miss you want to pet. You want to pet her?”
I hear it still. So cute they were so I took a pic and instantly they are asking for money. Ok that’s fine, they got me. I’ll pay for a cute pic no biggie. But maaaan. They all think they are the first to stop you. I’m like “No,no gratias”, now that I have my picture I’m good but if you even make eye contact they won’t leave you alone and I literally had to run to the next area because they would not leave me alone. But they are cuuuuute.
9- Peruvian food is amazing. .And the ceviche is worth the risk of getting what our tour guide calls “funny tummy“, known to us as travelers diarrhea. It’s risky to eat anything washed in their water and not cooked—aka salads and ceviche. Two things I love. Ruh Ruh. When the food looks like this I say, Suck it up take some Imodium and eat your heart out.
And of course, when in Rome……..while in Peru you must try another specialty of theirs, Guinea Pig.Served as shown here for show, they took it back and served it more practically in another 15 minutes. Like they say, it tastes like chicken—-except this one with more bones and less meat. 5 stars for experience, 3 on taste, 1 on tummy full to work ratio.
10- Lastly Pay the extra money for a travel agency. The peace of mind that came with knowing our rides/taxis were safe and fair is great. Also it helps the language barrier to have a guide with to translate if no one is fluent in Spanish. They pre-paid all the drivers and got us pre paid admissions to the mountain and some archeological tours etc which would have taken us tons of extra time etc to research and figure out. The hotels covered breakfast and lunches (yummy and filling) were included in our daily excursions as included in package so there isn’t a daily hassle to find or bring food on our own. They gave us a sheet with tons of the country’s info and important notes plus recommendations on where to find dinner locally and what not to do etc. while it was a bit tiring to have full days planned out with little down time, it maximized what we could see and experience in our limited time in Cuzco and I highly recommend it for this city. We used CAT TRAVEL and were pretty happy with our experience through them.