My heart pounded with anticipation as I tiptoed around the hotel room at the crack of dawn and hastily prepared myself for my solo adventure. Slipping out the door with my camera hanging low around my neck, I ventured out into the darkness that is Cusco. My travel buddies, still exhausted from the hike to Machu Picchu, were fast asleep. It was 4:30AM, and I was determined to see the “real” Cusco before our flight to Tumbez at noon.
Exploring a foreign city alone without the aide of any sort of navigational technology is both an anxiety-ridden and exhilarating experience. It took a good 30 minutes for me to relax and stop worrying about getting lost or being kidnapped. Once the jitters left me, I felt completely liberated from the trappings of following orders from Google Maps and the compromises that come with having a companion.
I found beauty in everything as I wandered aimlessly throughout the local street markets of Cusco - from the butcher’s calico cat lazily “guarding” slabs of meat to the souvenir shop owner sneaking in a quick nap in front of his stall before the busy hours of the day ahead.