Boy, how soon a body forgets. What a bad night. Cuzco rests at 11,000 feet. Machu Picchu at 8,800 feet. I was all acclimated to Cuzco, at least as far as altitude sickness. I don’t think I’d ever really get used to the low oxygen to make stairs comfortable. Got back in Cuzco and found it a little bit more work to walk around than at Machu Picchu. Heck it is only 2,200 feet different. Our local ski area is at 5,000 feet and I’ve never felt a lot of difference between there and on a boat on the Sound. My body sure did notice that 2,200 foot difference. I couldn’t get to sleep last night. I’d start to drop off breathe 3 or 4 times and then wake up to get a deep breath of O2. Finally I dumped my luggage on the adjoining bed and found the Diamox (Altitude sickness pills) and popped on of those. It didn’t immediately help, but after a few hours it worked well enough that I was able to get some sleep. No headache when I woke up and feels like old times in Cuzco. I was shocked how quickly my boy forgot I had just been in Cuzco 48 hours prior.
Today there is almost nothing on my plate for the day. I needed to change hotels, since the one I was staying in was full and I didn’t make reservations far enough in advance. The new hotel is much newer, but in a location I would never choose if I was staying. It is way up on the side of a hill overlooking the city. Beautiful view, but the streets are so steep the llamas need rubber cleats on their hooves.
I’m leaving tomorrow, I’d be gone today, but I had book this room non-refundable. I like Cuzco as long as I’m not moving. I want to see the Nazca lines in the desert. You’d think there would be a way to fly to a world wonder. Nope. From Cuzco it is a 17 hour bus ride, 8am to 2am. I’d just love being dropped off in a strange town at 2am after having my seatmate’s head on my shoulder and drool on my boob for 16 hours. Better to fly back to Lima (At Easter Sunday prices, and they ain’t on sale) spend the night and catch a nice daylight 6 hour bus ride on Nothing Special Monday.
So a nice slow day today. A light breakfast. Then a wander around the squares I know nearly by heart. After yesterday’s warning, I put my camera on my shoulder and then put my fleece on. That at if they’re after my camera, they’ll have to work a little harder. I ventured into places I had only ridden by. Saw a nice park where you could see the various layers of the city. From Pre-Inca, to Inca, to Spanish and it you looked at the power lines, present day Cuzco.
I stopped in a money exchange and gave the guy three Benjamins. The current exchange rate is 3 Soles, per dollar, plus a .10 to .20 depending how the exchanger is feeling that day. So he counts out nine hundred and change and gives it to me. I count it back to him, and my total is eight hundred and change (what’s 30 bucks between friends?) . I hand it back to him and he counts it and hands me the correct amount. I don’t call him a liar and a cheat. It was an honest mistake, I’m sure. No major hard feelings on either side, He tried and got caught, I expected it could be a possibility so I counted it. Then he wanted to be my buddy and make conversation. I had things to do and hit the street. After the warning from that nice woman yesterday I must have looked like a drunk walking down the street. One step, two step, three. Turn around and look. Hug the wall, turn and look. Repeat. I hadn’t noticed before, but since I started looking there were quite of few of guys a little too slick for that area, just hanging around. Before all I saw was families and tourists. What a perception change.
I found a quiet off the beaten path park, found a bench and just watched the world march by in revue to me. The trinket sales women, the shoe shine men, the waiters for the nearby restaurants getting a quick polish before the noon lunch crowd.
Back to the hotel, call a taxi and check into the new hotel. This is where I expect to end today’s entry.