After leaving Aquas Calientes I returned to Cusco were I would spend the next 4 days including my birthday. During my stay in the Amazon I met a girl named Shirley whom said she was going to be in Cusco during my birthday and would show me around. I was excited and so after checking into my motel (which I decided to spoil myself for my birthday and stay at the Marriott) I called Shirley and asked if she would like to meet at the restaurant across the street from my hotel. Some of the members of the group I hiked with also met there including my friend Robert Da Bruce from Scotland. Shirley arrived and we had a few drinks and talked the remainder of the night. She knew some members of the group because they had previously been in the Amazon also.
That was a bitter sweet night because the members of the group that I hiked with where leaving the next day to continue onto Bolivia and some going home. It was great to have met Shirley and we made plans to goto Moray and Oracles the following day so I was excited for the new adventure with someone I felt a connection to and was looking forward to getting to know.
After laughing and talking late into the night everyone decided to head back to there hotels. Shirley and I made plans to meet the next day and explore Cusco. The morning arrived and I said goodbye to my fellow hikers as they continued on and then I met Shirley and we spent an amazing day together, I spoke only a little Spanish and she spoke intermediate English and we had no problem communicating.
That evening we met back at my hotel and had our first dinner together. I felt so fortunate to have had all these amazing experiences and met such genuine people. At dinner we made plans to goto Oracles to visit some of her family and see Moray site for my birthday.
After spending the day in Oracles with Shirley and some of her family we celebrated my birthday with a traditional Peruvian dinner of Cuy (guinea pig) potatoes, pasta, and Chicha which is a corn fermented beer. The meal was very good but guinea pig is a acquired taste.
We then played a game of Sopa and they surprised me with a birthday cake. I greatly appreciated them celebrating my birthday and being so kind. I felt a true sense of communion and connection even though we did not fluently speak each other’s languages. We enjoyed visiting for a while longer before Shirley and got in a taxi and headed back to Cusco for our last night together because she would be returning home to Puerto Maldonado.
The ride back to Cusco was nice and Shirley and I stopped at a Basilica of the Virgin of the Assumption a Catholic church outside of Cusco were a local Quechua woman was selling clothing and other goods made from Alpaca. We bought a few things and Shirley talked to her for a while before we returned to our taxi and our friend Victor to continue our drive to Cusco.
When we finally arrived in Cusco it was late and we were both tired so we spent an hour together and made plans to meet in the morning. I would go with her to the airport for her flight home. We both knew our time together was limited and were so happy to have met but sad to say goodbye. When I returned to my hotel room I thought to myself how amazing the world is and how fortunate I was to have so many wonderful experiences and have met such amazing people. I fell asleep I said a few prayers.
When morning came I woke up early around 6:00 because Shirley’s flight was departing at 8:30 I grabbed my clothes got dressed and ran downstairs drank some orange juice and had a bite to eat before going outside to meet Shirley. I jumped in Taxi and we headed to the airport. When we got to the airport it was busting with activity. I walked her to the security and we embraced for what could be the last time said goodbye. My heart was overwhelmed with emotions; would we ever see each other again. In my mind I prayed we would but how?
I returned to the taxi and Victor drove me to the hotel it felt strange being completely alone again. I would have one last night in Cusco before heading to Lima and then back to America. That night I wondered around Cusco streets and had an amazing dinner at Cicciolina which I would highly recommend but make reservations. I found myself emotional that evening and overwhelmed by everything that I had experienced. I felt very close to mom and could feel her presence as I felt sure she was happy to see me experiencing so many amazing things.
I went back to hotel and packed my things for my flight to Lima in the morning. I woke up early, grabbed my bags and went downstairs and into a taxi. I got to the airport and through security but my plane to Lima was delayed and I ended up missing my connecting flight to America. Word of advice do not fly international with Spirit air!!! I ended up having to spend and extra 2 days in Lima and wait for the next flight to America.
I made the best of it and spent more time exploring Lima and met a few local business owners and some international travelers. I ended up flying out on 9-11 which was an interesting experience flying from Peru with a layover in Miami. I felt the brunt of TSA security but eventually made it to Pittsburgh International airport and home. It felt strange to drive and to be back in the United States and I had a gut feeling I would not be here for long.