Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Birthday in Cusco

We had heard about possible Peruvian roadblocks ever since Villa Tunari. People were saying that the road between Puno and Cusco was closed and nobody knew when it would reopen. We got different information from everyone we asked so we decided to try our luck and head to Puno. On our bus ride from Copacabana, the bus driver assured us that the road was open until the 7th when there would be another strike. We had enough time to visit the islands but we wanted to to get to Cusco before the situation changed. We decided to take a night bus on the 3rd which left Puno at 10:00 pm. We knew it was only 6 hours to Cusco but we hoped the driver might take it slow so we wouldn't get in at 4:00 am. He didn't- the driver sped the whole way and we got in at 3:30am. Temple had made a reservation at a hostel and emailed the owner Eddie that we'd be getting in late/early. He said it was fine and that he would wait for us around 4:00. We got a taxi from the bus station. Many of the streets in Cusco deadend at stairs so our driver dropped us off at the stairs closest to the hostel. We climbed up and found the blue door to Hospedaje Samaq T´ikaq.

We rang the doorbell. No response. Rang again. Nothing. It's 4:00 am and we have nowhere else to go. Then we heard a voice, "Are you staying with Eddie? I'm amigo of Eddie." Channing was just leaving a local bar when he saw our predicament. He walked over to the blue door, rang the bell and banged a few times. Then he said, "Eddie is dreaming in other world." Temple had written down Eddie's number, so we walked down to the plaza to find a pay phone. Thankfully, Channing had change to use for the machine since we only had bills. Turns out that the pay phones are difficult to work or Channing was just really drunk. After a few times of getting the coins returned, we got the phone to ring. Unfortunately, we called a random lady asking for Eddie. After more failed attempts at dialing, Channing said he knew a place we could stay. Bravely, we followed him across Plaza San Blas and down the hill. We became quiet after we took a left down a dark street. We continued to walk as Channing told us that his mother always said he was an angel without wings. We hoped so. We finally arrived at an even darker alley, which he said was the place. Once again we followed.

At 4:30 he rapped on someone's bedroom window. "I have two travelers who need a room." A light came on and soon the front door opened to a sleepy-eyed Don Pedro. We thanked him repeatedly as he showed us to our room, a cosey place with two twin beds. We continued to thank him and Channing profusely before quickly falling asleep. We awoke the next morning to talking and cheering outside the door- turns our it was Mrs. Pedro's birthday. Still confused about last night -and a bit embarrased about the hour- we said good morning and left for the day to explore Cusco.

After a day of plazas, churches and museos we returned to our hospedaje. Pedro's daughter said "perfect timing we were just about to sing." We assumed that after a day of partying they were going to sing Happy Birthday. As the family began to gather in the hallway, we suddenly heard music coming from the once dark alley. An entire mariachi band, complete with sombreros, was playing outside and the birthday girl was loving it. She even took the sombrero off of the lead singer´s head to wear it. After a few songs we applauded, thinking it was the end of the show but they continued playing while they entered the house. Mama and Pedro started dancing, then she danced with her grown children, then her grandchildren. Then she grabbed Temple on to the dance floor. Finally, it was my turn.

When she had danced with everyone in the house. Pedro sang her a love song backed up by the band. Everyone then went to the backyard for celebratory Pisco Sours. We gave "saluds" to the birthday girl and the family toasted us and the 4th of July. They had a never ending supply of Pisco Sour and kept refilling our glasses for more saluds. The band had changed out of their costumes and were cracking jokes and drinking. The guitar player turned out to be one of Mama's sons. Soon dinner was served and the celebration continued. Everyone insisted that we eat and drink more. They told us about their family, we told them about our travels.

We couldn't believe that less than 24 hours before we were homeless in Cusco and now we had found a family.


Bett Addams Williams said...

FANTASTIK! (I keep thinking, it's the best yet.) Every one is 'the best yet!'

Addie said...

What a wonderful family to find. I guess he is an angel without wings!