Friday August 21
Copa Airlines Seat 17F
LAX to Panama City, Panama City to Lima
A little exhausted it’s now 2am and I’ve had the longest week ever. One of my WIT goals is to blog more so I will start with this trip. Lately, I haven’t done much internal dialoging. These stories aren’t going to write themselves. Nine whole days away from it all. Now work. Just adventure lying ahead of me. I’m beyond excited to experience a new county and it’s culture. I’ve always wanted to do this visit and experience Machu Picchu and now I can cross it off the list=)
Saturday August 22
Made it to Lima! Having dinner overlooking the ocean at Vista Al Mar. Eating Jalea Real. It’s gorgeous and peaceful and barely anyone speaks English. Feeling entirely out of my element and I love it. We walked around the Largo Mall in Miraflores. Our waiter at dinner tried desperately to convince us to come out dancing with him. It was cute. If we weren’t so tired we’d probably could have gone. I thoroughly enjoy the language barrier. We then, after a really long dinner, went to the Metro supermarket. I love markets abroad. Miraflores is an upscale beach town. We ran into a really nice police officer who showed us the way to the market. I’m getting used to the little Spanish I know. Then we went to the Internet cafe to check in with family.
Sunday August 23
LAN Airlines 11:35am flight to Puno via Cusco
Woke up this morning and had a very American-friendly continental breakfast complete with loud obnoxious American tourists talking about visiting the “shantytowns”. Sometimes I like to claim my Thai nationality. Our driver came to pick us up at 10am to take us to the airport. Driving through Lima random children would jump out in front of the car and perform tricks like juggling oranges and doing acrobatics for money. Lima looks like a shell of a town. Buildings were half finished. Seems like there’s a huge renovation project in the making. Miraflores seems to be the Santa Monica to Lima’s Downtown LA. Large discrepancy between rich and poor. Arrived in Juliaca after a stop in Cusco. Four takeoffs and landings later. A taxi bus awaited our arrival. A local Incan woman sold some alpaca mittens/gloves/scarves. We took the really bumpy bus ride to Puno which took about 45 minutes. The altitude hit me almost immediately and I started seeing stars and my heart wouldn’t stop racing. They recommend going to Cusco first to acclimate. But we went straight to the highest point in Peru. The air is a little dry and dusty. Puno/Juliaca reminded me of City of God. Tomorrow our guide picks us up at 6:45am to take us on a boat tour of Uros and Taquiles Islands.
Monday August 24
Didn’t sleep a wink last night. Heart was pounding in head. Suffering badly from altitude sickness. My heart was racing. The bus came to pick us up at 6:45am. We took a boat to Uros Island where the people live on floating reed islands. I bought a wooden flute from one of the families. I was still feeling ill. Then we went to another island, Taquilles where we climbed the road to the top. We had a lunch of pan-fried trout. The lake was gorgeous. I skipped going out to dinner when we got back because i was still feeling sick. Holly and Fern brought me back quinoa soup.
Tues August 25
Woke up this morning not fully functioning. This altitude sickness thing is starting to scare me. I spent half of this morning in slow motion. I was hearing people but there was a slight delay. I kept bumping into things and my chest feels like it got punched and I have this dry cough. The bus came to pick us up at 7am to drop us off at the bus terminal where we were about to embark on an 8-hour bus ride. We stopped at an Incan museum and Inca city and then a restaurant in the Andes. We finally made it to Cusco and it started to rain with the sun still shining. Our guide picked us up and took us to Samay Hotel. We had a dinner show at Don Antonio where they showcased traditional folkloric dance. I tried the traditional foods of guinea pig and alpaca. It wasn’t bad. We walked back to the hotel where I befriended a stray dog I named Barney. I fed him some water and he decided to walk us home the entire way.
Wednesday August 26
Woke up with pretty bad chest pains. Hard to sleep night prior. My pounding headaches seems to come and go but is now all concentrated in chest pains. I was okay sitting up but the minute I laid down it would be sharp shooting pains. We had a tour of the city at 1pm. We went to breakfast, paid our tour balance and I went back to bed till about noon. We grabbed some soup from a nearby restaurant. We went to the Quoricancha (Temple of the Sun), a pretty cathedral, some other ruins. When we got to Saxywaman the skies just dropped hail. It was awesome. We ran to the bus and then we drove to another Incan site. But, it was a 10-minute walk and I was short of breath and the sharp chest pains and overall feeling of fatigue. We came back to the hotel and passed out and woke up hungry and ordered pizza. I still had pretty bad chest pains and couldn’t sleep lying down. Fern called the front desk and the were going to call a doctor. I said no because I wasn’t sure what they would give me. I was scared. I’ve never had this kind of pain before. I didn’t sleep much that night either.
Thursday August 27
We checked out early and took a taxi bus to the train station for a 7:45am train trip from Poroy to Aguas Calientes. Perurail trip took 3 hours and ran along the Ollaytambo River. It was so picturesque and unbelievably awe-inspiring that even though I didn’t get much sleep I remained awake and excited for the next bend. The valley was just surrounded by thise grandiose mountains. We saw where the Incan Trail started and all the brave souls who were about to embark on a 3,4,5 day hike to Macchu Picchu. We arrived at Aguas Calientes around 11:30am. A hotel rep picked us up and walked us to the hotel. No taxis in AG. The buses to Macchu Picchu took off from the train depot. Our hotel room, Santaurio, had a balcony overlooking the river. We sat for awhile just taking it all in. And as much pain I was still in I couldn’t help but start to forget and start feeling healed. Maybe by the magic of the mountains? Something definitely happened. I was starting to feel better by the second. Hector our tour guide came to brief us before our MP trek.
Friday August 28
Hector came to pick us up bright and early at 6am sharp. I slept well for the first time since being in Peru. I still had slight chest pains but it didn’t wake me up. My hands were tight when I woke up and getting out of bed I felt like a senior citizen with cracking knees and back. We walked to the bus stop where there was already a line and several buses had already left and returning for another load. The roads were tight and the bus drivers drove without caution. It was basically a one-way street so whenever another bus came down one of the two would have to slam on their breaks. It was like playing chicken. It took about 30 minutes to get to the top. We got there and it was still misty. It was perfect. We wanted to catch it before it all burned off. My energy level thrown in with a sense of adventure was coming back from the dead. I felt like I was being healed as I stayed on the top of MP. I secretly asked to be healed by the mysticism surrounding the mountains. And it worked! MP healed me. The longer I stayed the less my chest hurt and it got easier to breath. I still think I need to get checked out. I might have gotten bronchitis. The days in Puno feel distant and like a dream. I wasn’t fully coherent for it. Cloudiness filled my head. Memories are foggy. MP is basically indescribable. You have to see it for yourself to experience it. There’s nothing like it on Earth that I have experienced. I tried to capture it in photographs. It was beyond amazing and everything I hoped it would be. And magically I was resurrected from the living dead and was abounding with newfound energy. The best I’ve felt in awhile. We got done with our tour around 9am and headed back down. We were dropped off near our hotel because there was a blockade in the middle of the road. It turns out that a bus on the way up tipped over. The windows were shattered and it blocked the road from anymore buses from going up. We don’t know when it happened or if there were people on board. Hopefully everyone was okay and they got to make it to the top. Our train departed at 5pm. I was only on the train for a short while when the feeling of malaise returned. My chest tightened and I was in more pain than ever before. My breath was short and every one felt like someone punching me in the chest. I slept most of the way. Our guide was at the train station to pick us up and she suggested I go to the clinic. I said I would try to sleep it off and if it got worse I’d go in the morning.
Saturday August 29
I woke up better but still feeling like I got run over by a bus. My chest wasn’t as tight and I could breathe for the most part. Wasn’t 100% better but better than the night before. We slept in and didn’t have plans. I just wanted to go to the market to find gummy bears. At the market I became disoriented. Maybe from the heat, maybe from the crowd or physical exertion. I was hearing people but felt like I had a slight delay. I felt like my hearing was muted but all my other senses were super sharp. Like I was hypersensitive to people’s thoughts around me. It was too intense. I needed to escape and get back to the hotel room. I rested for the rest of the day and around 4pm we went to the artisan market for souvenirs. Then we went to a small house turned restaurant where I only had an appetite to keep down soup. We went back to the hotel to rest and pack. I took a shower and was starting to feel better.
Sunday August 30
Woke up great and abounding with energy. I was excited to feel better and to be heading home. 9 days is a long time to be traveling. We did a lot and it took a lot out of me. With the altitude sickness and all, I wanted more than anything just to get to sea level. I finished the last of my packing and went down for my last Peruvian breakfast. Overall, the trip was amazing. Once in a lifetime and even though I was in a lot of pain and misery for most of it, I don’t regret a single thing. Okay, maybe underestimating the altitude factor. It was a big dream of mine to see MP and now I have with my very own eyes and it has enlightened my soul and sense of adventure . Now, it’s time to return to the real world, where I’m actually excited to return to. Until the next adventure. Australia in November.
To be continued…