Jan 14th 2011
My stomach apparently dislikes the altitude and the copious amounts of coca tea I have been consuming. It has started a morning regimen and it is not a particularly pleasant one. Still feeling crappy but need to at least attempt to walk around.
Alpaca Sweaters and Lucio
I had planned to buy an alpaca sweater at some point during my stay in Cusco but it seems the zipper on my brown hoody/jumper decided that I needed to buy one sooner than later. So off I went to scour the alley ways in search of a good deal with as much pure alpaca as possible, there are a lot of substitutes out there. At the end of “my” street I turned left and headed to a little store just a few feet up the road. However, with the angle of the road it felt like it was more a of a mile than a few feet and I was huffing and puffing by the time I got there (a total of 2min walk).
This is when I encountered Lucio! What a spectacularly hilarious guy. His family owns a few alpacas and this is the family business, he had photos and everything to prove it. The very first sweater I tried on was a grey with blue vertical stripes. He was very enthusiastic about this one as it highlighted, how shall I say, my silhouette… which he motioned with his hands, all very amusing. i tried on a few after that and he was happy to give his opinion on all of them but we decided the first one accented my two best features the best. Then we looked for one for my mom, he wanted to know if my mom had two good features as well, just so that he could choose the best options for her of course. Eventually we found one to both our liking and haggled over the price. He finally agreed to 120soles for both (around $40). I had to go back to get some more money so he help onto them for me.
(photo to follow as it won’t load)
Lunch with England
After heading back to the hostel grabbing some money, and a nap, I decided to hunt down some grub and then go get my sweaters. After wandering up and down a section of my street trying to decide which place I wanted to eat I finally decided on Pepe’s. As I was entering the door I realised I was being closely followed in by two guys who had decided on the same place. we both chose upstairs and as we were being seated at different tables we introduced ourselves and ended up combining the tables. They were Mark and Joe from Conventry, England, and they were leaving for the Inca Trail in 2 days. They had only just arrived in Cusco that morning from England and were not sure if they were suffering jetlag or altitude sickness. We decided to hang out for the rest of the day. Turns out my very limited Spanish was fluent as far as they were concerned, so it might have been these skills that aided in their decision to hang out. But lets just go with my stellar personality 🙂
After dropping off leftovers at my hostel (turns out another side effect of Altitude Sickness is a lack of appetite – means leftovers for later) we headed out to explore the town and pick up my sweaters. Lucio was excited to meet new people and promised them a good price if they came back. It was great walking with the boys as you felt a lot more confident to stop and take pics and their company also distracted me from the obvious breathing issues I was having. We walked all over the plaza, exploring the numerous alley ways with stall after stall of wonderfull stuff to bargain for.
Mark needed money so we went in search of a bank. As we walked down El Sol avenido the sky turned black and a thunderstorm was eminent. They usually appeared out of no where around 3pm and gave you about a 2min warning before letting loose a deluge. We decided to find shelter and a drink and joked that the bank was most likely the next building (on later investigations it turned out to be true). We made it just in time and what a deluge it was, the streets turned to rivers as we enjoyed a Pisco Sour (a first for the boys).
We decided to head to the place I had had dinner the night before to see about food, but there was still 2hrs before dinner service so we headed to the boys hostel. They had, however, failed to tell me that the hostel was at the top of Mt. Everest (at least thats what my lungs thought). By the time we made it up a near 70degree incline to the hostel I was huffing and wheezing like a 2pack a day smoker. After relaxing and catching my breath (only took me about 20minutes) we headed back down the hill to have dinner.
Food Glorious Food
And what fantastic food it was, at least for the boys. Joe ordered some trout and Mark some beef and vegetable thing, both delicious. I opted for something on the appetizer menu as I was not so hungry and chose an interesting sounding mash potato with light pesto and yellow chilli. Turned out to look very pretty, but it was a cold dish and the pesto was overpowering. Not the kind of thing you want when you feel crappy and still the thought of it turns my stomach.
As we paid the bill and were considering leaving they suddenly brought out a free dessert and it was chocolate!!!
An Elephant on My Chest and the Mother of All Storm
The boys walked me home, such gentlemen and headed back to their hostel promising to meet up tomorrow for another day of adventure. I grabbed a shower, tried to watch part of a movie but finally decided to try sleep. No matter which way I lay I found breathing very difficult, and that also leads to panic. So trying to calm myself I tried to focus on deep breaths. However, it felt like an elephant had taken residence on my chest and my lungs felt almost bruised. Finally around 2am I grabbed my blanket and went out to the couch. I propped myself up and that seemed to help breathing. Around 3am I was woken by the sound of rain pelting down and thunder and lightening, I was quite nervous the roof would cave in. But at the same time I loved the sound. Truly an epic tempest was brewing outside.
So despite the battle to breathe it was a great day and I made new friends, always a bonus.
Stay tuned for our adventures around an old temple and the height of my altitude sickness.