It’s 11 PM. Three dogs are barking and growling with bared teeth at Ana and Jim who are standing in front of the cheap hostel on the outskirts of Cusco. The street on which they stand is dark, dusty, and there are holes in the pavement. It smells badly. The nearest streetlight is about 50m away – and nobody seems to be awake in the whole street.
As experienced travelers as they are, the situation they find themselves in is very uncomfortable for them. Getting attacked by hungry street dogs on the first day of their travel in Peru is not what they’re looking for, however, it all looks like it’s going to happen. They keep ringing the bell of the hostel, but nobody answers, nor opens.
Suddenly, the dogs go quiet. Ana and Jim can see the silhouette of a person approaching them on the dark street. It looks like a man, and he says nothing while he is slowly, but confidently, approaching them. “Is this some kind of a joke?” Jim asks Ana, trying to stay calm while he is figuring out if they are now going to be robbed and whether the hostel they booked set up that surprise for them. But as the man comes closer, the door of the hostel open. “Hola, buenas noches, bienvenidos” the woman, receptionist of the hostel, greets the two shocked guests. Reliefed, they move in, and to their surprise, so does also the man which earlier approached them on the dark street. Ana notices that the dogs are quiet and sit calmly on the street, while Jim is too overwhelmed by greeting their host for the night.
In the dimmed light of the hostel, full of Incan style decoration with patterns, they can see the face of the man which earlier approached them – to their surprise, it was the local person that sat besides them on the airplane from Lima to Cusco! The woman that owns the somewhat cozy hostel doesn’t speak much with him, she just smiles friendly and points him to a room. Ana and Jim go through the check-in procedure, explaining her how was the travel. After the check-in, they move to the bed and have a good sleep.
The next morning, at the breakfast table, they meet the guy from the last night again. They explain him the horror story feelings they had, and all three smile at what was happening. Yes, that’s something that adventure travel brings – the stories for the grandchildren.
Ana and Jim learn that the man’s name is Diego and that he is, in fact, a world-class professor of physics. They already had a nice conversation on the airplane when Diego voluntarily offered Jim to take a few pictures of the flight near the Andes, as he was sitting near the airplane’s window. Ana and Jim could easily tell that he was a well-educated person, as he spoke with them in perfect English even though from his face, it was visible that he is Peruvian. Jim usually spends the time on the airplane by reading the books, and Diego knew the book that Jim was reading, about tribal cultures (Tribe: on homecoming and belonging) very well. He said he even met the author personally one day. He spoke calmly and surely about the event, and Ana could tell from Diego’s explanations that he really liked the book, too.
While eating the breakfast and chatting next morning in Cusco, they learned about each other. Ana and Jim found out that Diego is from Peru, from a village near Cusco, but he lives and works on research all around the world for a few months every year. The woman which owns and runs the hostel is actually his cousin, and he went there to sleep over the night, before proceeding back home to his village, to meet with his family in the next days.
Diego learned that Ana is one of the biologists, working for a company which provides agricultural technology, based in Silicon Valley, California, the USA, who loves to spend time in the mountains and outdoors, and to travels without luxury. He also learned that Jim, with similar preferences about travel and outdoors, is a professor of computer sciences at Stanford, one of the world’s best and most influential universities for technology.
The three enjoyed the company of each other very much and even exchanged their contact data, to stay in touch further while the two Peru visitors will be traveling around the country. Diego said that his home village is close to Machu Picchu, and archeologic site that Ana and Jim planned to visit in the next days, and said that they should contact him when they plan to visit it. From what Diego told the travelers, they could see that he obviously knew a great deal about the history of the Incas and even spoke Quechua, the language of the Incas – just like his cousin, the woman which ran the hostel.
Jim heard the conversation between Diego and the hostel owner woman before the breakfast, and even though he was really a polyglot – Jim could speak 9 languages including Spanish perfectly – he couldn’t understand them. He asked the hostel owner, smiling, “Que idioma es esto?”, and she replied him that it’s Quechua, the ancient language of the Incas. She said that a part of the population of Peru, especially the older people from the villages, still speaks it – and so do they, as they both like to learn languages, and according to her, have some relatives in the villages that still speak only that language. Despite the fact that they live in the city, they still keep in touch with them, she said, and they don’t speak Spanish at all. “And it’s good to know a language, spoken by so few people,” she smiles. The benefit, she explained to Jim, is that it’s a kind of a secret language that is not spoken by the majority of people in South America, like Spanish. Jim knew what she was talking about – being born in Slovenia, a small country with only 2 million of inhabitants and own language, he and Ana (also Slovenian) used their mother tongue excessively on travels and while living abroad for personal conversations, because they were sure that almost nobody understands them.
Ana and Jim spent the first day in Cusco visiting the city and orienting in the city, and Diego left the hostel as he said he will travel forwards to his home village. ….read the next part of the novel here.
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Matic is tech startup guy who loves to spend time outside. In his free time he is an true outdoor freak – he tends to surf, run and ride a mountain bike, and in the winter time just loves powder skiing and snowboarding. Matic also loves to travel, often has to because of work, and even more often because he wants to 🙂