March 22-23, 2017
The bus ride from Arequipa to Cusco was beautiful. We drove through highlands with rolling green hills, herds of llama/alpaca, and the occasional river and distant snow-capped mountain. We saw very few trees or shrubs. I don't know if they were burned for firewood or simply don't grow well in this environment. If there are roads in this area that aren't used by buses etc, it would make a wonderful area to bike through.
Cusco is an old town, and used to be the Inca capital. That means it's full of old Inca stonework (which is often incorporated into newer buildings), and it also makes it the tourist capital of Peru. It's the first town in Peru where it occasionally felt bothersome to walk around the main square because of how many people tried to sell us llama key rings etc. That doesn't mean we didn't buy anything.
That one day in Cusco was probably the most expensive of our time in Peru. We bought tickets to Machu Picchu, train tickets to Machu Picchu (those prices are in dollars!?), and I bought a camera. I started the trip with the DMC-LX3 that I ended the last trip with. It's a nice camera that excels at taking wide angle shots even when there's not a lot of light. But for taking pictures of animals, or anything where you can't get close to it, it's practically useless. (See the condor photo a few posts ago.) Since we're hoping to see a bunch of wildlife in Bolivia, I decided I'd be happier with another camera and less money than the other way around.
Buying a camera was a bit of a throwback to days before the Internet. I visited a handful of stores, and wrote down what interesting models they had for sale. Then I returned to the Internet to see what their capabilities were, and what they sold for on Amazon. My options were some high-end cameras that cost $500 at Amazon but $750 in Peru, and an older model that costs $300 both at Amazon and in Peru. If I had made this purchase before leaving I might have gone with the high end, but I wasn't willing to pay the markup so I ended up going with the older model purchased from a consumer electronics store. It's got a great lens with some ludicrous zoom, with a sensor that hobbles it a little when conditions aren't perfect. But now I can take decent pictures of animals from pretty far away, as long as they're lit well.
Also on that day in Cusco, we walked to the Bolivian consulate to get Danielle her entry visa. The US makes it difficult for Bolivians to visit, so Bolivia makes it difficult in return. She didn't have everything just right when we got there, so we spent some time with wifi and then at a local print shop to get everything in order. While we did that there was a short but intense rain storm which set off the alarm of the car outside the restaurant. Once done, we got to wait for the Bolivians to come back from their lunch, get a deposit slip, walk to the bank to pay, walk back to the consulate to finally get her visa.