“If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman? If I’m alive and well, will you be there holding my hand?” — “Kryptonite”, 3 Doors Down
It’s 10am and I hear the tires of the plane land safely on the tarmac. As I step outside of the airport I marvel at the mountains that surround our destination — Cusco, Peru. I couldn’t help but discuss the upcoming adventures with my actual travel group whom I met the night before — 11 Canadians (including yours truly), 3 Germans, and 2 Americans. Although a Team Canada dominated group, I did my best to socialize with everyone. After all, I’ve had great times with other people from these same countries last year. So I was quite content with our mix 🙂
Cusco, sometimes spelled Cuzco, is a city in Lima and is situated 3400 metres above sea level. It’s here that we are meant to explore and acclimatize to the thinner air in the region, before tackling the main feature of our trip — Machu Picchu. Pfffft! Acclimatize shimatize. I don’t need to get used to anything! I want to climb Machu Picchu now! I’ll just make . . . it . . . up . . . this . . . gentle . . . incline . . . Oh sh*tballs. I never anticipated the higher elevation to hit me so hard. I started feeling fatigue, a shortness of breath, a lack of appetite, and a little lightheaded. People say altitude sickness is feeling like you are hung over. Well I’m confirming that fact — I’ve found my Kryptonite. So walking to our lunch spot was a bit of a challenge, but not enough to stop me from scoring some shots. Click the pics below to get an expanded view!
Cusco was the capital of the Incan Empire and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Another important fact about this city: Stopping at a red light is optional after 10 pm. It’s an unwritten rule and speaks to the focus (or lack thereof) on infrastructure on traffic laws. So be careful when crossing the street!
Meeting other people from other countries is one of my favourite things to do. So my new travel hobby is taking “United Nations Pics”! Observe:
It’s not everyday that I get to exchange new experiences with travellers from abroad. So I consider these shots special because the people in them share the same thirst for adventure as I do. We are connected by our desire to explore the world. 🙂
To address the symptoms from high altitude, I spent some time wandering the markets looking for cocoa leaves. Coca acts as a mild stimulant and aids in suppressing altitude sickness. For 2 Sols (about $0.77 Canadian as of today) I was able to score a bag.
So I took a hand full of the leaves, shoved them in my mouth and chewed it like tobacco. Wow. I started feeling kind of good . . . the fatigue was starting to lift and my eyes blinked like I woke up. What’s in these leaves again? Alkaloids? What’s that Google? “Coca alkaloids are a mix of ecgonines, propynes and hygrines. The derivatives of ecgonine include COCAINE (methyl benzoyl ecgonine), methyl ecgonine, benzoyl ecgonine and cinamyl-COCAINE.” Oh crap. I guess there’s a first time for everything. When in Peru . . . 🙂
With my new found “vigor” (that would be a great name for a drug . . .) I took some pics of some of the locals in their element. Most of which we don’t see in the first world:
The stone streets of the city led me to get lost well into the evening where I discovered local shops, a hearty dinner, live music, and happiness 🙂
MOMENT OF ZEN: ABC — Always Be Connecting. I was awoken at 3:30am by a group of young travellers talking loudly in the lobby of our hotel. Because of the open concept between the floors, their voices were allowed to ricochet off the walls throughout the hotel, thus amplifying their collective volume! A normal person would have gotten up and told them to “Shut the F up.” Not me. I walked out and greeted the sh*t disturbers and said with a smile “I’m digging the positive energy but please keep it down. My team and I leave at 6:30 am. If we weren’t I would be out here with beer with all of you.” After some whispered apologies and gentle fist bumps our insomniacs went to their respective rooms. Success! Silence was again welcomed into the hotel! The next morning I was greeted by one of the troop. She mentioned, in her Australian accent, “That was the nicest way someone has ever told me to shut up!” I responded, “Of course. I’m Canadian.” 🙂
Peace, Love, and Adventure!