Touching Clouds

Trip Start Mar 11, 2009
Trip End May 06, 2009

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Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, March 21, 2009

At 3950 meters above sea level, the breaths I take here are careful, shallow and conscious. My chest is tight and headaches are frequent. It┤s what comes of traveling to such a high altitude in so little time, my body couldn┤t adjust quickly enough, so I┤m sipping coca tea and chewing Ibuprofin like candy. The touch of altitude sickness coupled with actually being sick (starting in Lima on Wednesday?), made for a miserable first few days in Cuzco and Puno. Though now, thankfully, I am feeling much better.
The bus ride up to Puno lifted my spirits greatly. Lima and Paracas had left a sort of "been there, done that" aftertaste in my mouth and had me worried that perhaps I had done just too much traveling in such a short time. But the moment we landed in Cuzco I felt it, that tingle of anticipation, of wanting to soak it all in.

Cuzco (Cusco) is the Inca capital of Peru. The people dressed traditionally in shocking colours, round hoop skirts, shawls and top hats. They carry their babies around in woven blankets, slung over their shoulders and tied around their necks. It was a strange sight to see these women dressed thusly sitting in a "modern" restaurant eating a sandwich.

The bus from Cuzco to Puno took us through gorgeous green countryside littered with streams and dotted with mountains. A welcome contrast to the dusty desert roads to Paracas. Of course, the higher we climbed, the lower the temperature dropped and I was beginning to see the error in my ways in regards to what I decided to pack for this trip. Not feeling well, however, I welcomed the cool air.

Puno is a maze of streets just begging for you to get lost in them (and we did). Dusty markets offering cloth bags full of beans, spices, raw meat. I nearly tripped over a couple severed goat heads lying, bloody, on a cloth in the middle of the sidewalk. Children were running up to us wanting to shine our shoes for "1 sole!!" I handed the dirtiest one my cookies instead.

We went through a travel agent to book the next leg of the trip because of our time constraints. We decided on Lake Titicaca first, as I wasn┤t feeling great and didn┤t want to spend my time on Machu Picchu in the public ba˝os. So we took a boat from Puno to Isla Amantani, stopping at Uros (floating reed island - see pics) along the way. The people there lived in grass-reed huts and took a boat 15kms away to go to school in Amantani. Unfortunately, this was a sort of tour and we ended up in a group of people feeling like cattle.

"What┤s with the bags??" joked the obnoxious Aussie (sorry Fiona, you┤ve said it yourself, traveling Australians are loud and obnoxious!) as Tammy and I hauled our heavy bags onto our shoulders and began to hike up an incredibly steep incline another 500+ meters into the sky.

"Ohhhh come closer," I thought to myself. "I can┤t move very fast with this thing on but come closer and say that again so I can punch you in the teeth." Considering he had nothing with him and was huffing and puffing more than us, I figured he┤d be smarter to keep quiet.

No one had told us that our village stay in Amantani would involve hiking and that maybe it would be best to leave our things behind at the hostel. "I┤m going to bitch slap Sylvester (our Puno guide) the next time I see him." I hissed to Tammy breathlessly. Hiking up a mountain at an altitude of 3950 meters is difficult without a 20lbs bag on your bag and another smaller one on your front.

Being sick to start with (for the last few days even) I thought it was a miracle I made it up at all. Though I did consider lying in a crumpled heap at the base, weakly waving off any assistance and crying out through parched lips, "Save yourselves!" But, troopers that we are, we made it and managed to laugh about it too. 

The village stay was a nice touch, the food was incredible and the people were so kind but the temperature drop and the violent storm that raged all night long left me awake and shivering for most of the night. I┤m all raccoon eyes today, sleeping away on the boat back to Puno while everyone else enjoyed the sun on the roof. Our visit to Isla Taquile was, quite frankly, irritating. It was cold, rainy and our guide stopped on steep inclines every ten minutes (just when you┤ve finally got a pace set) to explain something about the flora and fauna in both English and Spanish. And not just short bits of information, long drawn out explanations that left my toes and fingers numb and my patience thin. I hate to be cranky but I just wanted a hot drink and somewhere to sit.

Tomorrow we┤re back to Cuzco for the night and then on to Machu Picchu on Sunday. Hope all is well at home and that you┤re enjoying the irony of the fact that you were warmer than I was last night!

K & T
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sockmonkey on

something horrible has happened I am not getting updates about this trip. Make it work I need my fix ~pout~. I am so glad you are having a safe trip at least if not a well one. We hope you get to feeling better asap and get to enjoying in good health instead of sickness.

Oh and check and see why it's not sending me to already get with the work girl what do you think this is a vacation?

Love ya and miss you.

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