I know many of you are eagerly awaiting some visual stimulation from my Peru trip. Well this post has it! Let me begin with the acclimatization in Cusco. I live in a city that is pretty low in terms of feet above sea level. According to Wikipedia, Cusco is about 3,400 m (11,200 ft). I started to notice the change in altitude when I had only climbed a couple of flights of stairs in the hostel we were staying at and my heart started beating like crazy. To be honest, I was a little short of breath.
I consider myself to be a fairly fit person, but regardless of your fitness level, high altitude can affect anyone and can affect anyone in a different way. I found myself breathing more and trying to adjust my breathing to take in more oxygen, due to the thinner air up there.
After we had checked into our hostel, we pretty much crashed for an hour and a bit, but had an orientation with the tour guide and the group. Just when I thought I could crawl back into my bed, we had a walking tour of the city. First stop was a coca museum where we learned about the benefit of coca leaves by Peruvians. They actually chew the coca leaves because they are believed to have medicinal purposes such as overcoming fatigue, hunger and thirst, as well as altitude sickness. These leaves are the same ones used to make cocaine. It is actually illegal to export them. They can only be sold domestically.
Next stop was the market. Our tour guide allotted 30 min to browse the local market, meaning 30 minutes to practice our haggling skills in Spanish to get some souvenirs. I had taken Spanish 101 in university, so I was able to get a deal on some toques. Side comment: There are dogs EVERYWHERE in Peru. And they aren’t stray ones! Apparently, owners let their dogs roam free without any leashes or identification. There was this one dog that actually accompanied us during our walking tour. It was pretty funny. He stopped and laid down whenever we stopped at an attraction and then walked alongside us when we continued the tour.
Later that evening, we had a debriefing by our Inca Trail hiking guide. We rented hiking poles and sleeping bags. Aside from our daypack, which we would have on us during the day, we were also allowed to have a duffel bag. This duffel bag was to be carried by the porters (on TOP of all the camping and cooking equipment they had to carry on the trail!!!). Thus, the weight was restricted to only 6kg. This weight also included the sleeping bag. We wouldn’t have access to the duffel bag till we got to the campsite in the evening. Needless to say, it was somewhat stressful trying to figure out what was necessary to pack for the next few days (The weather changed CONSTANTLY).
Enough blogging. Here are some pictures ( Finally!)