Zooming in on Cusco.
I arrived to Cusco on a bus from Lima, the last few hours of which was a looping ride around mountains and through clouds and I woke up and emptied my stomach so I could arrive as hungry as possible to the city.
Which brings me to an important/unfortunate piece of information: Peru is a terrible, terrible place to be vegetarian. If I had held to it more strictly I'm sure I would have dropped dead of hunger. But then Cusco, if you're cool with trekking the stairs on low oxygen, is full of vegetarian gemstaurants that serve rice and beans and guacamole and soups and salads and paradise on a plate.
The weather is odd in January, quirkily flitting between cold and drizzly/pouring and hot and sunny, so come prepared with layers and something very waterproof. (Feminine frustration sidenote:)I was forced to go for this oversized men's North Face windbreaker in the last photo, which I bought so large because apparently women only want to wear such colors as hot pink and neon orange and clearly only men should benefit from the privilege of more demure colors, a privilege I rebelliously took for myself. But it worked out okay in the end because a) if there's one time I don't care about stylin', it's when I'm making my way across a continent with a 27-liter backpack and no shampoo, and b) dry butt.
All in all a lovely place to rest on your way to/from/around Machu Picchu. They do say to start with Machu Picchu, as the altitude at Cusco is actually higher, but I say start with Cusco and then all that climbing at MP will be a breeze.