With a title like that you know the story has to be good…
Holidays complete and family time enjoyed more than I have words to express. Thank you all for incredible times and making this year’s festivities one of my most favorite memories.
Since before moving to South America, I have wanted to visit and experience they mysteries and mystic of Machu Picchu. I have had several failed scheduling attempts due to one commitment or another. This year I managed to actually set aside enough time before returning to work to make that trip a reality. You haven’t even heard the best part yet…wait for it…I even had the fantastic idea that not only would I visit Machu Picchu I would actually take the 3 night 4 day hike through the Sacred Valley complete with sleeping in a tent on the ground. I know this completely sounds so unlike anything I would usually do but hey it’s a New Year and time for new adventures even if that means sleeping on the ground with no real shower after climbing up trails and sweating due to actually doing something physical and in the same realm as exercise. Well I know what you are thinking there is no way this could actually be happening. Apparently, Mother nature and/or the goddess of nature agreed with those sentiments and decided my presence in actual nature would more likely than not interrupt the flow of tranquility and mystic calmness in the Zen like atmosphere that surrounds the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.
I arrived in Lima perfectly fine and on time but (you know there is always a but) my luggage did not it was in Houston. A quick inventory of things in my immediate possession: I have the clothes I am wearing (dress and leggings), Ugg boots, an Eddie Bauer weekend jacket, toothbrush, face cleaner, the perfume and lip gloss I bought at Duty Free in Newark and a pair of flip flops. You will notice at this point there is no mention of anything I can actually use for hiking all of that would be neatly packed in the hiking pack; which is checked luggage as it did not fit in the overhead compartment.
Upon conversing with the United Baggage Claim agent (look at the nice words used here) her response was to hold up a spiral bound handbook with a telephone number on the blue front cover and order me to call this number as there is nothing she can do because our bags are in Houston. An 85USD phone call later and we left with the assurance that our bags would be on the next flight to Lima (24 hours later for there is only 1 flight per day) then immediately forwarded to Cusco and should arrive at 9am Saturday morning. Perfect right? Oh in Utopia perhaps but in this “Sherry airplane world” NO. What no one ever said or told us or even mentioned was there needed to be a release form signed for customs at the Lima airport before they would release the bags. Apparently, not even United understands this little rule and you now realize the Baggage Claim agent is so incredibly helpful!!!
***Do not leave the Lima airport without your bags*** just a warning to anyone that might encounter this problem in the future. Stay in Lima, collect your bags in person and then continue your trip. Even if that means a bit of a reschedule it is in the best interest for you and your wallet. This is advice you for sure want to file away.
However, since we had been assured there was no problem we boarded our flight to Cusco:
Upon arriving we checked into Casa Cartagena. I have really been fortunate in being able to stay at some really special hotels over the past several years and this hotel may be at the top of the list for me now. Casa Cartagena is one of those places that because everything is so incredibly perfect you wish you never had to leave. The hotel staff went above and beyond doing whatever they could to make the stay pleasant. They actually went to the markets and purchased toiletries, medicine, special food (I have a super love for water with lemon and cucumber) whatever we requested which they did not have someone would make sure it arrived in our room (an upgraded suite no less).
The spa and salon were excellent (though a bit pricey but worth it). Additionally, the restaurant and bar was excellent we never had a bad meal there (every morning breakfast was included and 3 nights dinner) and after long days of exploring the ruins around the city it was nice to not have to go far for dinner.
On Saturday morning at 10am when our bags were SUPPOSE to arrive the front desk attendant at our hotel made some calls to find out that the bags were indeed in Lima but could not be released by customs (because the form was not signed) and customs would close at noon until 9am Monday morning. Alright, we have no luggage, no clothes, no hiking gear and we are suppose to leave for the hike on Monday before customs even opens. That is a bit of a problem. United agreed to give us 1000USD to buy things we needed like toiletries, clothing, shoes, etc. Off we go to find all things needed to survive for the next few days or at least so we don’t need to wear the same clothes for 5 straight days…have I mentioned lately that tall Dutch man is super tall like 6’9” ish. For me it was not really so complicated to find a few shirts, some socks, a pair of pants and a new pair of hiking shoes (which I adore by the way) all at the small pretty crazy expensive North Face store surrounding the town square. For tall Dutch man not so much luck: a shirt, the most expensive socks ever (that are super soft made from baby alpaca) and a sweatshirt that “almost” fit other than that poor guy completely out of luck. There was no way the hike was going to happen.
At this point there are two choices one can make: 1) Sit around being angry and disappointed that your trip is really not going as planned and do nothing but complain and be miserable or 2) decide there is just not a whole lot you can do about, make a new plan and take your happy ass out and enjoy this place you have been trying to get to for 3 years. Guess which one I picked!!!! Look at how truly amazing it all turned out. I saw some extraordinary places, met exceptional people and had experiences that one can only imagine in their dreams. All of these things we would not have been able to do otherwise.
Up next…… Machu Picchu and Orient Luxury.