“Mom, where are we staying tonight?”
“I don’t know honey”
“Mom, are we going back to the Ninos Hotel?”
“Mom, are we going to stay in Cusco?”
“Maybe, maybe not”
Neither my husband nor I were trying to be evasive with our children. We knew that we should arrive back in Cusco about 5pm. We knew that there was an overnight bus to Arequipa leaving about 7pm. Unfortunately before leaving for our trek we hadn’t been able to book tickets for the bus. We also hadn’t booked somewhere to stay in Cusco.
We arrived in Cusco after a pleasant, if bumpy 90-minute taxi-ride from Ollantaytambo. After a quick stop at the Ninos Hotel to pick up our bags, a frantic dash to the bus station and an excruciating 15-minute wait in line, we found out that yes, there were just four seats left on the overnight bus. To the bemusement of the ticket-seller, our boys did a happy dance in the tiny ticket office.
You might think it slightly crazy to go straight from a four-day back country hike to an overnight bus ride. It probably is but it made plenty of sense to us. Suffice it to say that when we arrived in Arequipa at 5am the next morning we were all questioning the sanity of our decision.
My husband made noises about the local transport system and the cost-effectiveness of taking a bus into the center of town rather than paying for a taxi. In a fog of exhaustion my feet were intent on reaching the taxi line and wild horses or anything my husband was saying couldn’t have convinced me to change my direction. In marital terms, it was a Cuban Missile Crisis moment.
The taxi dropped us in the main square.
We plonked ourselves down on a park bench to collect our thoughts and figure out what to do next – at least the adults in the group did. A flock of pigeons had collected on the deserted square. Our kids – with backpacks still weighing on their backs – were off, gleefully chasing and scattering pigeons left and right. “God bless their energy” was all I could think to say.
Information on traveling to Peru with Children.