I fell in love with Cusco the way Bridget Jones fell in love with Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’ Diary — disastrously. That is to say—not at all, and then, all at once. After eating an ill-advised empanada de queso at the Arequipa’s Terminal Terrestre, I spent the majority of our 12-hour bus ride to Cusco throwing up in a non-functioning bus bathroom (humbling experience #5983 of this adventure) before arriving at Cusco’s infamous Wild Rover hostel.
Sheila knew the owner of the hostel through a friend of a friend back in Ireland, so we’d arranged to stay there for a few nights before beginning our Christmastime trek to Machu Picchu. In other words, we weren’t arriving completely blind: we knew that the hostel had a reputation for booze, sex, and all-night parties — but we had a roundabout relationship with the owner (a genuinely kind human being, for the record) and prioritized that familiarity over sleep.
Needless to say, this isn’t the world’s most enjoyable place to have food poisoning. Why, you ask? Because while I was getting personally reacquainted with my stomach lining, (seemingly) everyone else in the hostel was getting laid. Loudly. There was the morning I woke up to find three of the eight beds in my female-only dorm room occupied by newly-acquainted couples in various stages of undress, and the time I’m convinced someone in the room next to mine recorded an unnecessarily enthusiastic porno… but I’m getting overly detailed. The bottom line is this: people want to have sex. Good for you! Cheers! Skol! L’chaim! But as Ted Moseby told Marshall on HIMYM: “It’s physics, Marshall. If the bottom bunk moves, the top bunk moves, too.”
So that’s the Bridget-Jones-wears-an-ugly-Christmas-sweater-when-meeting-Mark-Darcy part of this overwrought Cusco love story analogy. We didn’t start out on the greatest terms, and my first four days in Cusco were largely disastrous (with the exception of a tour through the Sacred Valley on my last day)… but after I came back from Machu Picchu (sick again, but mercifully only for a night) to spend another nine nights in the famous Incan city… I fell in love.
To be continued...