We had received our instructions the night before: have your bags ready at 6:30 a.m. and be ready to leave by 7:00 a.m. We were flying to Cusco to head to the Sacred Valley. We didn’t want to start off the trip being the late ones so we were out the hotel room door by 6:00 a.m. for breakfast. How nice to only have to worry about our backpack! Disney magic took care of the rest of our bags.
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, Alma. They had a spread of seasonal fruits, meats, eggs, waffles and French toast set out for us. I will confess that I didn’t eat too much due to being in a foreign country and wanting to be careful but what I did eat was delicious! We were blessed to be joined our flight mates for breakfast and to continue getting to know them better.
The entire group — about 40 of us — were on one bus for the ride to the airport. We took a different route than the day before and saw a different part of Lima. I was like a child at Christmas watching all of the excitement around me. I would not be disappointed!! The highlight of the bus trip to the airport? Me screaming as I saw a stark naked man on the street, standing there, just stretching like he had just woken up. On the sidewalk! In the morning! Right when rush hour was taking place! This was to become something of a tone for the trip. I hesitate to say it, but I saw more than one naked stranger man in Peru on this adventure!!
Once we arrived back at the Lima airport, we followed the paddle of power (the orange Adventures by Disney® group sign) and never once were delayed. It was if all knew it really was the paddle of power!! LOVED IT!! Airline tickets were handed to us as we walked through with no waiting! Once we arrived at the gate, we had a short ten-minute wait then they were calling for Adventures by Disney guests to board. We took up most of the plane and it was a party from the start. Everyone was chatting and getting along like a group of long lost friends.
After a short hour flight, we arrived in Cusco. We were warned about the thin air at 11,200 feet but nothing truly prepares you for it when you walk outside. I found myself taking weird breaths and it was if I weighed much more than I truly did. Thankfully, the walk was short to the buses. This is where we met Kevin Costner (kid you not!!!) — the man who would greet us at EVERY SINGLE stop on our trip in the Sacred Valley. He was a peddler of all things Peru and had advice on everything for our trip. He was to become one of the group before long and he even introduced to his colleague, Mercedes Benz.
Our afternoon was to be slow and low key so that we could all acclimate to the altitude. The first part of the bus ride, through parts of Cusco, was hard to see for me. The homes were made of mud bricks with tin roofs and just openings for windows. The children wandered freely along with dogs and more dogs. For this American, it seemed poverty at its worst but these people were happy and healthy and this was normal. It was a reminder that one doesn’t have to have “things” to be rich. Once we left the city and climbed the mountain, the unbelievable natural landscape made me catch my breath. Peru was so beautiful!
We enjoyed the scenic bus ride to the Center for Traditional Textiles where the altitude at 12,500 feet was even higher than in Cusco. At the center, we were greeted by Andeans in traditional clothing with cool, eucalyptus wash clothes for us to cleanse our hands and champagne flutes of special lemonade to quench our thirst. As we wandered around the courtyard looking at the amazing textiles created by these women, appetizers of guacamole and homemade chips were set out for us. I could have eaten every bit of the dip by myself! But I did force myself to share. And I am so glad I did since the lunch they prepared for us was incredibly delicious. Our group of seven turned into a group of ten as we welcome Allison and Tim, co-owners of an agency specializing in Disney, and Mike, another Disney employee. If a stranger had listened to our table during lunch, he or she would have sworn we were all lifelong friends. It was amazing!
After lunch, we were treated to an explanation of how the 2000-year-old art of Andean weaving was almost lost to this generation and how it has been preserved by these ladies and passed down to the younger generations. These ladies even dye their own alpaca or llama wool using natural elements. Lance and I purchased some bracelets and a new camera strap from the ladies. They are truly works of art to be cherished by us. Finally, we were treated to Michael and Harvey dressed in Andean ponchos and hats! It was a fitting end to an amazing first adventure of the trip.