[Start with part one here.]

Glitch.
I was tired from all the hiking, and slept well during the flight from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco. A little too well. While alighting the flight at Cusco, I forgot my camera case of the carry-on luggage in the flight. The flight was to proceed to Lima, so I requested the ground staff to retrieve the bag. A ground staff member went in, and brought a different bag. By the time I told them about the mistake, the flight doors had closed (as the flight continued to Lima), and with that, most of my hope and getting the bag were gone too. Fortunately, my camera was with me, but the bag contained a 600$ lens, some filters, the camera battery charger, a spare battery, spare memory cards and lens cleaning equipment. Getting through to the LAN customer support was a pain, as they had to be told the entire story. I spent a few hours on the phone trying to track the bag, and eventually gave up hope. In all this, I hadn’t seen that I was in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

From [Peru] Cusco 7th Sep. 2010

My camera had a good zoom lens attached to it, so the only thing I really needed from the case was the battery charger. I could easily purchase one at Cusco.

I could either let the whole thing go, or ruin the trip for myself.

Tomas and small world.
I let go, and after packing my backpack for the hike, I called Tomas who lived in Cusco. He had a class until 8 p.m.; we decided to meet after class. He introduced me to a few of his students who were walking with him to the bus stop. I learnt the traditional Peruvian greeting: handshake and hug for guys, kiss on the cheek for girls (the muah type ones — unless the girl really likes you, in which case it is a peck on the cheek).

[Digression: When I told a friend that I was visiting Peru, his comment was something to the effect of Peruvian women are hot, and they have amazing skin. The first bit can probably be attributed to half the body of one woman he might have seen (on the internet), but the second bit was totally WTF. How on earth would he know what their skin was like!

After the introduction with the girls, I can vouch for it though.]

We then went to meet Tomas’ cousin — a dentist who strangely had braces — all gems of people — and we all went to the only Indian restaurant in Cusco. The owner was happy to see an Indian, and took good care of the three of us. He asked me where I was from. I said Pune. He asked Which part? He seemed to know a fair bit about Pune. He told me he was an interior designer, and designed some buildings in Pune, and a hotel called Step In on FC Road. It is next to Vaishali and Roopali, but I hadn’t heard of it.

Small world though.

He has been living in Cusco for 10 years now. I asked him Why Cusco? He said Because I love the place. I said Perfect.

Music.

From [Peru] Cusco 7th Sep. 2010

Tomas and I went to the central plaza, which is a square garden, surrounded by shops, pubs and churches. Photographs weren’t allowed at pubs, but the owner knew Tomas and I got royal treatment.

From [Peru] Cusco 7th Sep. 2010

I then saw a group having dinner on he sidewalk and one of them had a bunch of flutes in his backpack. I remembered I wanted to buy a flute (or some musical instrument) in Peru. We let them finish their dinner. They were a band, and the flautist gladly agreed to show me his flutes (no jokes here). He told me he made his own flutes, and they felt of great quality. I tried to play one, and could hardly play a sound. It reminded me of the first few days of playing the Indian flute. He showed me the exact lip position, and I was off in a couple of seconds. That was it for the night. I had to wake up at 5, and Tomas had a class at 7.

A wonderful day it had been.

Part four here.

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