Merry Christmas to all!
Though today did not feel like Christmas at all, but I knew it wouldn't. Being in a strange place where it is summer (south of the equator) in the middle of a desert is very different than any other Christmas I've had before.
Our winery tour was delayed which threw a kink in the day's plans a bit. It was originally set to leave in the morning but was changed to leave at noon, which meant there wouldn't be much time to do anything once we got back. It also meant timing would be weird for lunch, so Jessie, Steph and I went to go try to find an open grocery store to get some food to bring with us. We didn't have much luck, and ended up pretty much getting snacks and juice at a convenience store. Then, in a moment of brilliance, Jessie thought to ask the hotel if they could make some sandwiches to go. Ta da. Lunch!
We were loaded into another van for our winery tour, with the company of a couple from Normandy, France. We went to four wineries, though three of them were all right next to each other. It was interesting to see where they make the wine and pisco (the local drink). It doesn't really look like the wineries you're envisioning, I'm sure. It's still small-village Peru, which means they're not fancy facilities by any means and it still looks like developing country. Jim and the others reported that the "wines" were more like liquors, and the pisco is sort of like tequilla.
We returned to the hotel about three hours after we left, which meant Jim and I had one precious hour before we had to leave for our bus. We decided to stay close just in case of a problem, so we walked around the oasis area (since we hadn't seen it in daylight really). It seemed like it was no time at all and it was already time to say goodbye to Erik, Steph, and Jessie and go to the bus station all by ourselves.
Jim and I usually travel with just the two of us, yet for this trip since we've been with the others until now, it feels a little strange. We'll get the hang of it again, but we do miss our friends.
The bus ride back to Lima was pretty much just like the bus ride to Ica. Jim and I were in the same seats with the same attendant. The second movie (same one) was even cut off in the same place. That was mildly amusing. Jim and I thankfully were able to catch a taxi and get back into Jessie's apartment with her key and code with no problems, thank goodness. I was a little apprehensive of that for no good reason. I had checked my bag to be sure I still had the keys about 20,000,000 times on the way. :) (Erik-- I blame you since you asked me if I had them as the cab was leaving the hotel, haha.)
So here we are. Jim and I will catch our plane to Cuzco in the morning. We'll spend the day/night in Cuzco and catch the train to Aguas Calientes the next morning. We'll spend the day/night in Aguas Calientes (which means 'hot water', it's a small hot spring town, the nearest town to Machu Picchu), then catch a bus early in the morning to Machu Picchu. We plan to spend a whole day at the ruins... unless we get bored, which I doubt but you never know. Then we'll spend the night in Aguas Calientes again, catch the train to Ollanta early the next morning, explore Ollanta for a while, then get a bus to Cuzco from there. We'll spend Thursday night in Cuzco, catch the plane back to Lima Friday morning, spend Friday night at Jessie's again to collect our lugguge... then back to the states on New Year's Eve. We'll literally be taking off as the clock strikes midnight here. I'm not sure how much internet connection we'll have between now and then, but I'll update as we are able. Love to all.