Leaving Machu Picchu

Trip Start Mar 08, 2005
Trip End Mar 29, 2005

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

So we spent an amazing two days at Machu Picchu. Our train left back to Cusco at 4 p.m., so we just spent the day wandering around Aguas Calientes and feeling sorry for ourselves. It was really tough leaving this place. I know that I may return one day, but it will never again be as it was this first trip. Returning to a place you love is often a let down. Nostalgia and remorse for a time gone by usually overshadow any walk down memory lane.

We spent most of the day sitting by the river, simply writing post cards and doing a little reading. For those of you I didn't send post cards, disregard this portion. We just sat by the river and read.

So Bev has been jokingly concerned about Malaria this whole trip. The CDC map I looked at said there was no risk in our area. Bev's said "mild risk." So each mosquito bite she gets, she assures me that she's been infected and once again douses herself in bug spray. I haven't really had a problem with mosquitos. So I was a little surprised when I got bitten as I sat under a thatch umbrella waiting for our train. I noticed it just as I boarded the train, and Bev said that she could see a small red spot above my eyebrow where I had been bitten. No worries. It's just a mosquito.

But I went ahead and took some antihistamines and enjoyed the view as we left Aguas Calientes. After 30 minutes or so my face began to feel really hot. I felt my bite which had turned into a whelp. I decided that it must have been a spider from the thatch that had dropped down and bitten me. I sometimes have a small reaction to spider bites. No worries.

After an hour I felt my face again and felt a golf ball size tumor developing. Fantastic. Some passengers looked at my face with genuine concern. So I got out some benadryl and applied it to my new friend. It would go away soon. No worries.

Half way through the trip I felt my right eye begin to close. The swelling was obstructing my vision and the whelp covered an area about the size of a tennis ball. Bev giggled and called me the elephant man. Other passengers began to look away in horror. I applied benadryl in thick coats every four minutes and took several more allergy pills. I tried to cover it with a hat. That only forced the fluid toward my eye which was quickly closing. I placed my face against the cold window and stared at the passing trees for the next couple of hours. The day had to get better.

So we headed to the bus station to catch an overnight bus to La Paz, Bolivia. We dropped $20 on what they said was a sweet bus (royal class was not mentioned) and it was direct to La Paz. We upgraded to first class and got a cama seat (basically a lazy boy type seat with a foot rest). Our bus woes were behind us.

We purchased some snacks for the 16 hour bus ride. We heard overnight buses could be a little cold so we grabbed some extra clothes and found our awesome seats. Lovely.

We headed out on time. We reclined our seats and enjoyed a Harry Potter movie in Spanish. I fell asleep comfortably. I woke up an hour later and was a little cold. I put on an extra sweater, some gloves, and my beanie. Back to sleep. 30 minutes after that I woke up a little colder. I put some jeans on over my pants, and added every other article of clothing I had brought. But it was freezing. Beverley assured me it was the coldest she has ever been. She lived in Canada for nine years. I'm from El Paso. I was dying. I curled up into a manly fetal position and tried to go back to sleep. I looked for the woman with no teeth to see if she was following me around and had opened a window this time. All windows were closed, it was just painfully cold. The freezing air was needles in my lungs. Through all of this our direct bus made 9 or 10 stops and people shuffled on and off. We were sitting right by the door and most of the disembarking passengers used a bag or purse or anvil to give me a good natured pat on the head as they left.

The only items still in my backpack were my raincoat which provides no warmth and a pillow case that I had brought for no reason. I placed the coat over my freezing legs on which I had two pair of pants. Then I put my head IN the pillow case. This allowed me to re-circulate my almost warm exhaled air. That pillow case saved me life. But it also meant that I had to take it off whenever people spoke to me or when Bev woke up and asked me what the hell was wrong with me. Nothing I mumbled through the cloth. Leave me be.

The rest of the adventure happened after daybreak, which means it will be in the next post. No pictures of my swollen face or my pillow case will accompany this journal entry.
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