Well, today we're in Cusco after an early morning flight, and another altitude change (up to 11,152 ft now!). We walked around the town a bit (insert heavy breathing here) and found it to be about the same temperature as Arequipa--warm during the day (mid 70's), but cooler in the morning and evening (about 60 degrees). It's a neat place, but definitely more touristy than Arequipa, even though we saw lots of tourists there too. This seems to have more foreign tourists, where Arequipa had more national tourists. We quickly realized our hostel was located in a more foreigner area where all the restaurants have more "gringo" food and prices, so after an expensive (but very filling) brunch, we decided we would be walking further down the road for future meals.
Today we tried looking for a place that sold used clothes--not as common here as in Nicaragua, but we found the area. Apparently, they don't just sell them anywhere, there is a specific area "under the bridge" as we were told, that sells used clothing. Well, the bridge didn't look too shady and it was midday with lot of people around so we decided to check it out. We walked into a few different shops and they all seemed similar and their prices were way too high for used clothing. I was shocked! Although, most of the clothing wasn't priced and after giving me a price and I didn't look interested, they lowered the price a few times, but it was still expensive. Frank & I were looking to see if we could find some sweaters and possibly some sweat pants/legging type things to layer for our hike to Machu Picchu. And since we'll be camping, not staying in hotels along the trail (those don't exist), it will be fairly chilly. Hope the sleeping bags are warm! Anyway, we couldn't find anything decent--just a simple long sleeve shirt came with an $8.00 price tag. Seriously? A used shirt. Anyway, no luck there. I did find some new leggings this evening at a shop for about $10,then the lady offered me a lower price because I started to leave. I was trying to go for cheap, but at this point I'm kind of desperate, so I might cave and buy some new leggings--at least I'd be able to use those in the US too.
After our clothing adventure, we came back to our hostel/hotel and hung out and relaxed to make sure we didn't over exert ourselves in this high altitude. Speaking of that though, we've been doing fairly well. Frank feels it more than me, which is strange because I've had to take Dramamine for buses before and I've passed out on a bus and come close a few other times. We were thinking that I would definitely be taking altitude sickness pills, but so far I only took one on our first day in Arequipa because I was feeling miserable, but I think that was mostly because we spent the night in the airport and I was a little dehydrated. Oh, the joys of traveling on a budget :) Anyway, we've been drinking coca leaf tea, chewing the leaves, eating the hard candies, and munching on the cookies, which all promise to ward off altitude sickness, and I think it's working. It also helps you digest things better, which I have noticed. My body already feels better less than 2 weeks out of Nicaragua and still on the road--that's a good sign! haha
So far our post-Peace Corps travel has been good, just with a few small bumps along the way, but overall great. We're really excited to continue our travels and hike the Inca trail this weekend. I'm starting to feel a little nervous now that it's so close, but I'm also very excited! This has been a dream of mine for quite some time and now I get to finally do it and Frank will be by my side :)