RSS

Tag Archives: altitude sickness

Cusco Day 18 – Relaxation

Jan 23rd 2011

The aim of today is to do as little as humanely possible. Cathleen took our laundry down and we grabbed some breakfast from the hostel. Then we worked on some internet related stuff and checked out our photos.

Logan the American
It turned out our roommate, who we luckily didn’t wake up at 4am, was Logan the American chap who had decided to walk the Inca trail alone. It turns out he didn’t do the trail, but rather walked the path along the railway tracks, still a long and beautiful walk but not as intense as the trail itself.
It was great to see him again and to catch up on the various adventures. He planned to go bike riding to Moray, where they have a very unique agricultural technique, using concentric circles and creating microclimates to grow different varieties of potatoes and maize. I really wanted to go but was feeling exhausted and the thought of me trying to ride a bike on my best days is dangerous to others around me, so I decided to pass. Cathleen on the other hand was still full of energy (must have had something to do with sleeping on the bus) and was happy to join him.

Last minute deals
It was great having a day off and to myself. I took a nap, ate a dorito chip roll for lunch and finally got off my ass and decided to look for a few last minute deals. I still felt almost hungover from the trip and was pretty much wandering around in a daze. I picked up a scarf and a few other things, but wasn’t really in the mood for any big purchases, not to mention there was a lack of space to be had. Then I headed back to the hostel to veg out a little more.

New roommates and another international gathering
Our new roommate turned out to be Erlend from Norway, who was planning on leaving for the Inca trail at 6am the next morning. We chatted a bit and then Logan and Cathleen returned from their adventure. Turned out they had arrived as the bike store closed and so had hitched rides and taken local mini buses (at one point sitting on each other’s laps), but managing to see the places they hoped to and getting some awesome pics.

We decided to have pizza for dinner and invited Erlend with us who then invited an English chap along, making us another session of the UN with England, America, Germany, Norway and South Africa. Pizza was good, company was better. Turned out the Canadian was still at the hostel and was bunking in the room with the English guy and there were many laughs at the fact that all the things he said to me he had already told his roommate. You can’t help but feel sorry for him.

It was also a bitter sweet evening as it meant tomorrow morning I would be returning to Lima and saying farewell to many good friends and Cathleen, who had become as close as a sister.

But all good things must come to an end in order to make way for new adventures.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 15, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cusco Day 11 – Sacred Valley Tour

Jan 16th 2011

After a good night sleep, and some good dreams, I am feeling almost fully recovered, which is good because of the long day ahead. I have booked the Sacred Valley Tour, a cost of 30 soles (about $10 US), pick up is at 8.30am and we expect to be back only after 6pm. Yesterday at Sacsaywaman I had picked up the big ticket for 130 soles ($47 US), you need one of these to get into the monuments.

Pisaq and Market
The tour would cover around 200km and finally pulled out of Cusco at 9.30am. There were some spectacular views along the way and I was amazed at how the people farmed on terraces on the sides of the mountains with only minimal erosion. Our guide Paul explained that a lot of the terraces were still from Inca times.

Our first stop was Pisaq, a picturesque town with a fantastic market. I picked up a few things after some tough bargaining and then bought some maize (not sweet corn) on the cob from a street vendor, delicious especially with the chunk of andean cheese to go with it. The ruins were 3 miles away up a steep hill and our driver stopped for 2 young lasses from America who had been hiking up after their taxi left them at the bottom. They were very cool, one from Seattle the other from Eugene. Paul, our guide, invited them to join the first part of the tour for no charge, and we chatted merrily about their volunteer work in Ollantaytambo. I gave them my contact info as the one was very interested in visiting me in Ecuador. Unfortunately I never heard from them and am not sure if I wrote something down wrong (blame the altitude) or if they lost it. I never got their info.

Paul sat and chatted to me about the region and its history and about the flowers amongst other things. I still could not make it up the ruins and stairs made me quite flustered. So sitting and enjoying the view was the next best thing. And what a view.

Urubamba
Next stop was Urubamba for lunch, 20 soles ($5 US) for a buffet lunch. I had brought some sandwiches and knew I wasn’t hungry enough to spend 20 soles and hardly eat, blame the altitude. I grabbed some water and a coke (suggestion of Paul’s) and found a table. According to Paul the tabs I was taking for altitude sickness changes the pH of my body and creates and interesting reaction to coke. Woo hoo it wasa party on my tongue, the bubbles are intensified. Due to lots of tourists and limited tables I offered to share mine with a couple. They turned out to be from Brazil and she worked for a South African co. By the end of lunch we had exchanged information in case either of us headed to the others country.

Ollantaytambo
This has to be one of my favorite stops. This beautiful town has preserved its Inca urban planning and many still live in original Inca houses. There is a wonderful charm about the place and the ruins are spectacular, at least from the bottom as I once again opted for breathing rather than the view. Paul loaned me a book on flowers along the Inca Trail and I sat in a corner and was amazed at the variety.

Paul pointed out the old Inca grain storage, high on the hill. they used the altitude to keep the grain fresh, removing doors to prevent humidity and therefor molding and also adding a special menthol herb to keep insects out. Quite ingenious.

Chinchero and an Approaching Storm
Our final stop was something completely different. Also the highest altitude in the tour, almost 3800m (12467ft). Here you will find many colonial buildings built on top of Inca ones, including a beautiful old church with Inca foundations and stunning artwork.

We arrived just as the skies began to darken and a few wayward drops fell. It looked as if the heavens were about to open, but luckily we seemed to have just missed it. The storm must have been chasing us all along and now returning back to Cusco, we circumnavigated it.

Introduction to Anis Liquor and Lasagne
On the bus trip home we had someone giving us a run down on Anis Liquor, made from anis seeds it had a wonderful licorice flavor and if they had smaller bottles or I wasn’t flying I may have taken one.

Back in Cusco, I went in search of a Korean place I had seen but it was closed. So I headed back to my old faithful, Nuna Raymi’s and decided on Lasagne. It was officially the best I have ever had, layer after layer of meat and cheese sause, I think there may have even been a noodle somewhere. And fresh Andean cheese to grate over. Spectacular.

Relax with me tomorrow as I play catch up and try avoid the Canadian.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 26, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Cusco Day 9 – Brits and Breathing…

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 🙂

Exploring
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).

Uphill
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.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 25, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Cusco Day 8 – So This is Altitude!

Jan 13th 2011

Woke up constantly through the night checking the time. I never sleep well before a trip and this one was no exception. When the alarm finally did go off and I dragged myself out of bed I discovered that Fernando had apparently bounded out of bed and was literally giddy with excitement. He said it was because I was going to go to Cusco and Machu Picchu, but it might have been that he would have the place to himself (At least till his sister arrived in a day or 2). So well I searched for coffee, I also tried to comprehend the list of suggestions and tips that he was spouting at me, not an easy task let me tell you.

Tips for Altitude Sickness
– eat light (pasta or vegetables, no heavy red meat)
– eat carbohydrates (bread and pasta)
– chew coca leaves (place in mouth and pull main vein out)
– drink coca tea
– drink LOTS of water
– pace yourself, don’t do too much at one time (fine with me)
– practice taking deep breaths and holding them to get O2 to your lungs
– eat candy (again fine with me)
– try to avoid chocolate (boo) but if you feel depressed then it is good to have some (well I am sure I can figure that one out 😉 )

Awaiting my Chariot
All too soon the taxi arrived and I headed out to explore part of Peru on my lonesome. Thank heavens for WiFi at Lima airport and all it wasn’t long before it was time to board. In the meantime I had met an American couple that were heading to Machu Picchu that evening and then after a day or two there heading to Quito, Ecuador with a 16hr layover (planned) to explore and then off to the Galapagos Islands. It seemed fairly crazy to me to just bounce around seeing all the sights but not getting a feel for the place. I can just imagine them sitting with a checklist ticking as much off as possible in as little time as possible. Just crazy I tell ya. And I really hope they don’t suffer from the altitude otherwise their plans could be up in smoke.

And Then it Hit Me
When we landed I decided to take it easy and not rush to get off the plane. I was wondering why half the plane had the same idea until I realised they were staying on for a further leg of a trip, very nearly didn’t get off the plane. As I walked off the plane I immediately felt unsteady and a tightness in my chest. I am sure some of the staff thought I was drunk as it seems that it was exceptionally easy to be thrown off balance. Its crazy to think I could be affected so quickly.

My taxi from the hostel hadn’t arrived yet, so I stood and kept shoeing potential taxi drivers away in between trying to take deep breaths without hyperventilating.

Flying Dog Hostel
Finally it arrived and speeded on its way to the hostel. A tiny place at the top of a slight hill (although at altitude it felt like a 90degree slope), with only 23 beds, a spiral staircase, comfy couches, DVDs and a big screen tv. I was in the dorm room and grabbed the bed by the little balcony. The beds were the most comfortable I believe I have every had in a hostel before and I immediately took a nap.

Dinner at Nuna Raymi’s
Around 5pm I crawled out of bed, feeling like I had had a major party the night before. Its not fair to be hungover without the fun. I figured I should attempt to find dinner and perhaps walk around. Promptly got lost trying to find the recommended location. Apparently another side effect, for me at least, of Altitude Sickness, is the single minded drive to find said location, I considered the option of going somewhere else, but only briefly, I wanted to find Nuna Raymi’s, end of story. After wandering up and down the same street for what seemed like ages I realised I had walked past it numerous times. there was no one else there but the staff were very nice and seemed to speak limited English. Still I managed to order a plate of pasta with olive oil, fresh tomatoes and Andean cheese. When it arrived it was delicious and I ate it with as much gusto as I could manage.

Round about then a large tour group arrived, and the leader announced that the head waiter (my Spanish speaking waiter) would tell them more about the menu. Out of no where he suddenly discovered the gift of English and could describe the dishes quite well. And yet when he returned to me he fell back into Spanish. It was all rather amusing. Someone in the group ordered Cuy, roasted guinea pig, it is considered a delicacy in Peru. They brought it out for pictures then took it in the back to cut it up.
For those with sensitive consitutions please beware

After dinner I headed back to the hostel and just vegged, I felt like I had run a marathon, was recovering from pneumonia and had a hangover all at the same time. Not a happy feeling on any given day. I had a headache, short of breath and general exhaustion. So a movie and bed seemed like a fantastic idea.

Stay tuned as I continue to battle to breathe and meet a couple of Brits to hang out with.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 25, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Lima Day 7 – Emotional

Jan 12th 2011

Today was quite overwhelming, most likely due to a combination of hormones and preparing for my trip to Cusco. Turns out Fernando would most likely have to leave for the afternoon to help a friend and may not be back till the next day. Which meant we had to organize a taxi to pick me up at about 6am in the morning.

Laundry
we headed to his parents to get some laundry done, but there was a lot going on in the house and I hid in the kitchen trying to get some email work done. Just as I had decided to give up on the dryer, it was just making the wet clothes warm rather than dry, Rosa, the housekeeper announced she had made us lunch. So I went and hung everything on the line, considering the scorching nature of the day I guessed my laundry would be dry in about 10 min.

Conversations
Fernando and I started chatting over lunch and it took all sorts of philosophical twists and turns, ending in me trying to explain why I was wanting to do this trip and what I wanted to get out of it. Suddenly he said “I know you want to feel safe”, he hit the nail on the head, and I got a wee bit emotional. But sucked it up and we moved on to collecting the laundry.

Its really not about being unhappy in one place or another, its more about finding that place and or person that makes you want to stay put, or something along those lines.

We got home and Fernando headed out, I was not sure when he might return but we had booked the taxi and he had given me precise spanish instructions on how to call and confirm the taxi.

Hot Water and time Out
Thank the heavens we had hot water in at least one shower. It turned out to be more luke warm, but it took the chill away and it felt wonderful. So giving myself a time out, I had a shower, washed my hair and just generally took it easy. Made some roast chicken with left overs from the night before using some medium Nando’s Peri Peri spice I had brought with me. It was delicious. Then I watched “I am Legend” caught up on my diary and suddenly all was right with the world.

Impromptu Spanish Class
Suddenly Fernando returned with a friend in tow, who spoke very limited English, and the evening turned into an impromptu Spanish class. It was a lot of fun and good to have everyone in a light hearted mood after that morning. I was taught some basics and then also some colloquial words to use to, how should I say, get my point across.

By midnight I headed to bed and Fernando set his alarm. A good day in the end, even if the morning was a bit tough.

Stay tuned for my arrival in Cusco and discovering the real meaning of Altitude sickness.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,