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South America 2015

Getting high in Cusco

PERU | Thursday, 13 August 2015 | Views [321] | Comments [1]

Jorje and Christo Blanco.

Jorje and Christo Blanco.

Getting high in Cusco

 
We arrived in Cusco early morning and checked into our hostel. The air was thin, really thin, 3400m above sea level is quite high, our second story room meant stairs, and stairs were the first sign we were struggling. Jorje in particular needed 2 rest breaks going up 12 steps. With the gear dumped we headed into the main square to get our bearings, got offered all manner of souvenirs repeatedly and checked out the local stores. The sun was shining, t-shirts only until you stood in the shade when the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. We had lunch at a pub dedicated to Norton Motorcycles and headed back for a nap. Again having a few park bench stops on the way to catch our breath. Cusco is a stunningly beautiful town, 17th and 18th century colonial buildings and churches surrounded by mountains so having a little sit down to admire the view was never a problem. 
 
In the evening we strolled again, the temperature had dropped significantly and we were rugged up. Alcohol is not a good idea when first at altitude, we had decided on a restaurant for dinner, that offered free red wine...that should warm us up..... Hmmm. Dinner was lovely, as was the wine, until Juanita felt a little light headed as we got the bill. Turns out alcohol, even half a glass and altitude don't mix too well for Juanita, good thing there was a few parks on the way home as the spew flowed freely into the gardens. 
 
The next morning we felt a bit better, had a sleep-in then toured around the town, buying some supplies for our up coming hike. We took an open top bus tour around the town, which took in some sights of Inka ruins but mostly stopped at local merchants where they insisted we get off the bus to go into the store. Even as we took photos outside we were told 'photos later, shopping first', not exactly what we had in mind but we did our own thing anyway. Jorje was however impressed that the driver of the bus walked the top deck during stops selling cans of beer ! We didn't take up the offer but it's the thought that counts. It was a bit chilly so we needed to warm up, we spotted an Irish pub ( of course there's an Irish pub ) on the square and dived into home made soups and garlic bread, certainly hit the spot.
 
That evening it had turned freezing cold, seriously cold. We decided on a pizza restaurant based entirely on the fact it had a wood fired oven going that we could sit near. Juanita got to try some local freshwater trout. Some clouds had rolled in and we were starting to have a few concerns about the weather in the coming week. No booze tonight and we headed back to the hostel for an early one. 
 
Our 3rd day at altitude showed a marked improvement in our fitness and well being. We visited a few of the cities numerous churches and the Qoriqancha convent in the morning, lighting candles for Jorje's Penny Nan, who we sadly learnt had just passed away, then met fellow travellers for lunch. Eddie and Sandra, who we sailed to Colombia with, had arrived in Cusco so we caught up at vegan cafe Green Point. Best vegan food we've ever had and great to see the guys again. They had just done a hike to Machu Picchu, though on a different trail, so we picked their brains for any last minute advice. At this stage the heavens had opened, despite it being the middle of the dry season and incredibly rare, torrential rain washed the streets of Cusco. The next 4 days were to be spent hiking the mountains en route to Machu Picchu. This didn't bode well.
 
In the evening we met members of our hiking group and guide to be Fernando at the swanky hotel Monastario for our briefing. We had some good news and some bad news. The good news included all being ready and two lovely couples joining us, Av and Punit from Canada, and Danny and Sarah from the US. The bad news was the weather, not only was the rain to continue but there was a chance of snow and minus temperatures ! Also the possibility of 'Dead woman's pass' being closed and blocking our journey. And of course the final blow, we were getting picked up at 4am to start our adventure. We immediately made the decision to buy another jacket, some ponchos and rethink our pack. This could get interesting !
 
Tomorrow we hike !
 

 

Comments

1

Haha great stories - I had just been thinking that it had been a while since Juanita surveyed the bitumen - and there she went again!!!!!

  Lorraine Aug 23, 2015 10:30 AM

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