Where´d the air go?

Trip Start Apr 23, 2005
Trip End Mar 31, 2006

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

After getting our clothes cleaned and meeting the rest of our group which consisted of 12 Aussies, a token kiwi and a token Welshman, we spent one more night in Lima and then got up at the ungodly hour of 4am to catch a flight to Araquipa in the southern highlands and then bused it to Puno, a city of about 100,000 people on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

The first thing we all noticed as we left the plane was how hard it was to breathe. It took a conscious effort to get the air in and out of the lungs and any sort of exertion had us panting for more. Not surprising, considering Puno sits at the formidable altitude of 4100m! Remember how chuffed I was in getting to 4250m on Mt Blanc du tacal in France (and quickly getting back down again)? Well these guys bloody live here - all the time. The effects of the altitude soon started to show with many people feeling tired, getting headaches and poor Adam getting badly sick and coughing up blood. I wasnīt too bad but felt tired most of the time.


We headed out that night to sample some Llama at one of the local restaurants. Quite nice but they cooked it by boiling which made it a bit tough. Most of us headed out to a local nightclub afterwards, but my guts soon made it clear that they werenīt to happy with the Llama and a had to make a quick exit back to the hotel to let my now overactive digestive system do itīs work. Glenn stayed on with another Aussie Rob and our tour guide Gasper to explore the limits of Gaspers ability to drink. Glenn stumbled into my room at about 4am an proceeded to tell me all about carrying Gasper home to his hotel, the name and location of which had to be coaxed out of him because his memory had been obliterated by Sambucca and Pisco (the national drink which is a type of brandy that is ok in Pisco sour, the national cocktail, but in shots is downright devastating).

Next we woke early and coaxed our semiconscious tour guide into action. We visited the fascinating ruins of a pre-incan fertility temple which was chockablock full of stone penises about 40cm high sticking up from or into the ground with one large old fella in the middle at about 1.5m high. The upwards pointing appendages were in honor of the Sun and the downward willies were for mother earth. One of the local kids of about 8 years ols came along and explained extremely informatively about the customs that used to be held at the temple. Apparently young women would come to make offerings to the large penis of Coca leaves and a type of drink. The drink was poured in the slitted eye of the penis and if it poured out one way, she would have a child, otherwise, bad luck. In some situations, when boys were greatly desires, girls would be taken to the temple just after birth and sacrificed on the spot. We took some time out to play frisbee with the local kids in the yard outside the temple afterwards. Fun for all, but having not yet acclimatised, bloody exhausting.

Fertility Temple

We had a walk around the small town and headed back into Cusco for some pizza (our adventurous stomachs had been frightened into eating only familiar and easily identifiable foods from a common affliction which quickly became known as spud fever amongst the punters).

Spud Fever: Noun: A condition brought on by the consumption of strange and unfamiliar foods, often containing one of the 600,000,000,000 types of potatoes native to Peru. The symptoms include nausea, cramping and a strange artistic desire to paint the insides of toilet bowls.

After dinner we headed to the same club as the previous night and tasted our first real experience of partying in Peru. It started with a few drinks and dancing. I innocently suggested that the girls get up on the low stage and dance for a song. They happily obliged and were followed by th fellas on the next song. 5 of us got up and what should start playing as soon as we got up? Village people - YMCA. Forgetting the gay connotations, we proceeded to get the whole club moving with a spirited rendition. That none of us could really do it at this stage wasnīt a problem (At one point we were all doing a different letter to the same bit of the song- M,Y,A,C and Iīm pretty sure one of us was doing a Z). The crowd loved it and the night quickly deteriorated into bad dancing, Limbo under a skull topped staff I happened to see on the wall and lots of laughing.

Late night and early start the next morning on our trip on Lake Titicaca....
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