Friday, 18 January 2013

Altitude strikes in Cusco

We arrived in Cusco yesterday without mishap. The flight was fine and we were met at the airport by a very nice taxi driver.  As we walked off the plane though, the altitude hit right away.  Cusco is at 11,400 feet of altitude, nestled among even higher mountains.  We went directly to our room in a lovely guest house.  We have a bedroom/eating area and a kitchenette and a very well appointed bathroom.  We fell directly into bed, breathless and stayed there until late in the afternoon.  We took a short walk through the quaint streets and then made it back to our room at around 7 and stayed in our bed to watch TV and then to sleep fitfully until early this morning.
The temperature is very cool, topping out at 16 degrees and falling to 10 or colder at night...the buildings are not insulated, so it has made for  a bit of a shock to the system.
We ventured out again this morning and walked very, very slowly downhill.  We visited a museum dedicated to making chocolate.  We spent some time looking at local wares and people watching and ended up drinking several gallons of coca tea, a local and natural remedy to altitude sickness.  By the time we ventured back it was clear we needed more help so we stopped and bought some oxygen to get us through the night.
All that said, the town is lovely.  It is built on Inca foundations which still stand to this day.  The streets are cobbled and narrow.  Many of  the locals dress in their traditional outfits and add to the overall charm.
Tomorrow we are taking a formal tour of the city and we hope to be feeling a bit better by then.

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