Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Beginning to Battle the Altitude

Day 4: August 25, 2007

Jungle to Cuzco

Slept poorly due to racket from birds. Had breakfast and took a quick morning hike in the jungle. Saw a red tree squirrel. Very red and fluffy. Took a boat back to Puerto Maldonado. From there, took a van from the river bank to the airport. Didn’t get time to repack bags. Got stopped in security for having a pocket knife in my backpack. They confiscated it. Need to go back to the airport to get it later. The flight into Cuzco was rough. Feeling unsettled. Altitude doesn’t help. Dropped off stuff at my hotel and tried coca tea for the first time. It's made from boiling coca leaves, the same stuff cocaine is made of. It's supposed to help with altitude sickness but there's no scientific basis to back that up. It tastes pretty gross. After a cup of tea, I went on a walking tour. Had lunch in a nice restaurant before the walk. Tried Lomo Saltado, a traditional Peruvian dish. It was good – basically a sliced up steak on a bed of potatoes and rice. Spent the rest of the time shopping. Got an alpaca poncho. Hurried back to the hotel for a briefing on the Lares trail – and really started to feel sick. Maybe it was foreshadowing of the trials to come in the high Andes. My guide’s name is Coco. I hope he doesn’t get me killed, it’ll just be me and him. We went to another nice restaurant for dinner but I felt too sick to eat. Had half a tonic water and left before everyone’s food even arrived. Woke up every two hours that night to drink water to get over the altitude faster.

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