I arrived in Cusco, Peru, somewhat late at night and in a bit of a glum mood. It was a rather unpleasant bus ride from Bolivia, with a bit of stress thrown in at a security check point. The Peruvian authorities started hauling bags out of the bus at random, mine included, and tearing everything out of them at the side of the road. The locals in the bus were freaking out, some going into hysterics. The one’s who had seats closest to the baggage compartment were hollering out the colour of the bags as the police were pulling them out. When I heard, “Mochila rojo grande!” being called out, I rushed out of the bus to stop them from doing too much damage. When the police saw that I was not going to put up with any bullshit, they stopped what they were doing and let me pack my bag back up. Others were not so lucky. The police didn’t find a thing in any of those bags, and left the owners to repack their scattered belongings. Yeah, not one of my better border crossings, and not a good start to Peru.
Normally when I arrive in a city, I find a place where locals would stay, instead of a hostel, but I was too tired to care that night. I hailed a taxi at the bus station, pulled out my Kindle, and made my way to the first entry in Lonely Planet South America, Loki. Uh, maybe not the best call, looking back. I ended up staying there for eleven days, mostly because I kinda broke myself, from drinking of all things.
I’m not much of a drinker. And for the previous seven months or so, I had barely touched anything hard. Loki is a party hostel. You don’t have to speak any Spanish. You don’t even have to leave to eat, they have a surprisingly good restaurant there with meals like meatloaf, lasagna, burgers, etc. I loved the food there. The people working there were fantastic as well, and I got to know a few of them pretty good. Which is why I almost died there. Well, not really, but it sure felt like it!
They have this thing there called the Bloodbomb Challenge. Twenty-four Bloodbombs in twenty-four hours. A Bloodbomb is a shot of vodka in a glass of Red Bull, with a splash of grenadine in it. Vile drink. A few of the staff had heard a few of my stories and eventually convinced me to do it. ”If you can go down the Amazon in a canoe, you can do this no problem! We challenge you!” Now, as many people know, I’m a sucker for a challenge. My brothers figured that one out by the time I was five. There’s a good reason I had been to the ER fifteen times by the time I was eighteen!
I didn’t actually think I would get very far on the challenge, since I’m a lightweight. Maybe eight? I was sure I would pass out before I hit ten drinks. After a few, I ended up in a game of poker with a bunch of people staying at the hostel. While playing, my friends working at the bar kept on bringing me Bloodbombs, I had no idea what shot I was on. They were keeping tally at the bar on a score sheet. Apparently I won that poker game. And I donated all the money on the spot to the hostel charity, which builds bricks and houses for the less fortunate in Cusco. It’s good to know I’m still nice when I’m wasted, I suppose. I really don’t remember much of that evening, one of the very few times in my life I blanked out. Apparently I had seventeen shots that night. 17 shots of vodka, 8.5 cans of Red Bull. Gross.
I woke up the next morning, curled up at the bottom of a shower, fully clothed, lukewarm water pelting me in the face. No idea how I got there or how long I had been lying there. I felt like death. I crawled out of the shower and stumbled to the grass courtyard at the centre of the hostel. I peeled off my shirt and fell asleep face-down on the lawn. I woke a couple of hours later, to a nasty burn on my back. It was a hot day and the ozone layer is thin above Cusco. Great. Just what I needed. I took stock of the damage from the night before. Cell phone, dead. Damn. It didn’t make it through the shower. Wallet, soaked, but that dried out quickly in the sun. Pride, intact. I didn’t do anything too stupid the night before. A bit of hanging from the rafters of the bar, but no damage done. Body? Broken. It took me four days before I could venture out into the city again. What a waste. But I suppose it’s just yet another story to add to the bag, and I do laugh about it every time I think about it.
I went out a couple of other nights, to clubs and bars in the city, but I just didn’t dig the night life in Cusco. I did meet some great people at Loki’s, though. The German girls Lea and Jutta, Gary, Jessica. Nicholas was another cool guy, I met, with the best dance moves in the place. I had a few great conversations with random people, sharing stories and experiences from around the world. They made my time in Cusco worth it. As always, the people and conversations are the best part!