i'm writing this post from the scenic Loki Backpackers Hostel here in Cuzco, Peru, where i've been having a delightfully hectic few days. i'm finally taking some time out to catch up on my blog, so you'll notice that i've added several posts to gone living covering the last 4 weeks.
after 10 hours of flights to Lima from Los Angeles via Atlanta, I arrived at midnight to wait for six hours (!) for my 6am flight to Cuzco. Although I did have a lot of wonderful tips from the Lima Airport page from sleepinginairports.net, I ended up staying up all night in the food court, eating cheeseburgers, sipping mate de coca (getting a head start on combating altitude sickness!) and watching Lost episodes on my iPod.
upon arrival at cuzco airport, i teamed up with a couple of Argentinan backpackers from Buenos Aires and split a cab to Loki hostel. since then, my days have been a mix of tours around Cuzco (both self-guided and with groups, depending on when i want the extra information from a guide) during the day, and the wild nightlife of Cuzco in the evenings. since the nightclubs here don't close until after dawn, a night out here can easily stretch out ridiculously long.
cuzco and peru have been fantastic. the city is beautiful (photos coming soon once i find a fast internet cafe where i can upload photos), and the people are really warm and welcoming. as with most cities i visit, the crime problems don't appear too bad... but it is a place to use common sense and not expose yourself to pickpockets etc. it's nice to see locals and tourists mixing it up in the nightclubs as well -- many countries end up having a sharp divide between "bars/clubs for foreigners" and "bars/clubs for locals". here these two things merge together. in addition, there are backpackers from around Latin America (especially Argentina) staying at the hostel in addition to the backpackers from overseas, which further adds to the mix.
my high-school spanish is absolutely terrible, but i'm making a resolute effort to improve my spanish skills with the help of the Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish phrasebook (quite probably the best possible phrasebooks for backpackers travelling overseas, covering everything from basic grammar to phrases for everything from shopping to a rather extensive "romance" section). it's great to finally get a chance to speak another language beyond my usual few words of "hello", "goodbye", and so forth.
the inca trail, which i had originally planned on trekking, is sold out for the next several days (peru limits the number of people which can trek it each day), and it's pretty rainy right now as well. so one day i'll come back with a friend and hike the trail then (and in better weather!). for the next few days, i'm touring around the Incan ruins in the area, and will take the train to macchu picchu to visit there, before heading out to visit the Nazca Lines and a few other sites in Peru before heading on to Chile.