Arequipa is better than Cuzco. There, I said it.

I’m in Arequipa again. Peru’s 2nd city. If you’ve never been to Peru, you’ve probably never heard of it. Most people haven’t. The majority of traveler’s land in Lima and head straight to Cuzco. A gringo hangout. A backpacker favorite. I’ve been in Peru for almost a month. And I’ve never heard a bad word about Cuzco. I’ve never met somebody who didn’t like it there.

Well, meet Jordan Ellington. I didn’t LOVE Cuzco. Sure, I thought Cuzco was gorgeous. Plaza de Armas is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. Huge. Beautiful buildings. A landscape in the background that lit up at night and looked nothing like anything I’ve ever seen before.

Then there were the streets. The cobblestone streets. So narrow at times, that you have to scrunch against the nearby wall just to let the cars pass by.

The market was awesome. Huge, pig heads just laying there. Pig and chicken and cow carcasses thrown about everywhere you look. Natural fruit juices so good, it makes me wonder why I never use the blender at home. Oh wait, I don’t have a blender. Well, it makes me wonder why I never bought a blender back home.

But most cities in Peru have nice plazas, cute streets, and wild markets. Yet Cuzco had one thing that no other cities had–GringoMania. Yep, everywhere you looked there was a Gringo. Not only do Gringos tend to be loud, obnoxious, and drunk when they gather in large numbers in places like this, but they change the city completely.

I can’t tell you how many times I said “No gracias.” Massage? No gracias. Picture? No gracias. Hand made hat? No gracias. Massage? No gracias.

You get the picture.

I’ve never had so many people try to get me to buy their stuff. I’d be sitting in a cafe and a man would hold up paintings in the window. No gracias.

Here’s a funny part. I think my brother Daren will get a kick out of this. If you walk around Cuzco for 1 hour any day of the week, you’ll be offered literally 25 massages. At least. After you say “No, gracias” about 20% of the time, they will say “maybe later”.



No gracias.

Maybe later?

I met a kid named Max the last time I was in Arequipa. He had just come from Cuzco and he was so proud of one of his t-shirts. There wasn’t much to it. It was all black with white writing. It said: No, gracias.

I didn’t get it at the time. But now I’m in Arequipa, I just came from Cuzco, and I think it’s just about the funniest t-shirt I’ve seen the whole trip.

Cuzco’s cool. But Arequipa’s better. It’s nice to be back in Peru.

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