Monday, October 17, 2011

Peru-lat part

Peru, Last Part!
Ok, so I am in the hyperbaric chamber, under pressurized oxygen, kind of freaking out since it is shut like a submarine. To combat the fear, I am lying on my stomach, with my face as close to the oxygen as I can. I was so glad when the hissing stopped and they opened the chamber and I got out! I felt better already, finally able to take a breath, a full breath! Still a bit dizzy, but the weird wet breathing noise had stopped.

Back in the mini-van ambulance to the clinic, where I was put back on the IV for the remainder of the night. They were nice enough to let Karen stay with me, and she slept in the other bed as I lay awake staring at the ceiling, with the freaking IV and old-lady oxygen tubing not letting me roll on my stomach or side, which is where I like to sleep.

In the early morning, things got a little chaotic, as the doctor came in to tell me that I needed to fly to Lima and stay there for at least 2 days before I flew home, and that he needed to go with me. No problem, I thought. Well, there was a problem, b/c the stupid idiots from our tour tried to tell Karen that she needed to fly to Lima at 7 am, when I wasn't going to be able to go until 11 am. That caused a lot of angst for me, as I didn't really want to be alone in a Peruvian clinic without Karen around! Finally it all got worked out, and I was bundled into another ambulance to drive the 3 blocks back to the hotel to shower and pack up. I managed to talk the doctor out of making me fly with oxygen, telling him that I hiked for days on 1/4 of a lung, so I thought I could make it on the flight.

The flight to Lima was kind of strange, the doctor really meant he was flying with me, he sat beside me and checked my oxygen levels a couple of times during the flight, as well as got us to the hotel and checked it there, and gave me some medicine. Nice guy, interesting talking to him about Peru and his thoughts on the country.

Karen had booked us into a nice hotel, well, very nice--JW Marriott--to spoil me a bit. Lima is an interesting place, doesn't rain and is basically a desert. It sits on some very high bluffs made of dirt. Great views, but kind of weird since the bluffs are crumbly dirt. We visited some pre-Incan ruins in Lima, as well as some Incan ruins on the outskirts. We basically had a private tour, so that was cool. The ceremonial sacrifical area was creepy, and there was a place where the sacrifical girls lived until they were selected for sacrifice. A huge honor for the family, not so good for the girls.

We walked around Lima a lot, got a strange near tour of the City by a taxi driver, going to a famous museum of Peruvian items, and then he took us to some famous Spanish houses where we were able to touch a book from the 1500s, everything was just out in the open and not protected! We also saw a catholic church with some beautiful tile work.

New Years Eve came and we ate at some Italian restuarant, and saw some fireworks over the ocean. I was feeling much better at this point, but Karen had come down with a cold. Our trip ended with the long flight back to Virginia. I was never so glad to get home, and this was the only vacation that I've ever been on where I lost weight!

After we got back, we got a copy of the doctor's notes, and then I got kind of freaked out. I was dehydrated (which is why it took the nurses 5 tries to get the iv in) and basically in super bad shape due to the pulminary edema. Lesson learned and happy to be ok! I don't have an itch to go back.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Peru Trip-Out of Cusco

So, light-headed and dizzy, which was becoming the norm for me, the group made our way back to the hotel in Cusco, via our bus. We disembarked and upon entering the hotel lobby, a nicely dressed man was waiting for me---the doctor. We went upstairs to our room where he checked my pulse-ox and stuff. So, the reading on the finger thing was 80, and I am thinking it is ok, b/c that would mean I had a B. Wrong. The doctor told me to lay down on the bed and not to move while he went to get the hotel O2. I asked him what the deal was, and that's when he told me that a normal reading would be 95+ and that he was concerned about the sounds in my lungs. Huh? Then he said that anything under 85 required constant O2. Hhmmm, I thought. Maybe that explains my unability to walk up steps.

The plan was for me to go to his clinic, just down the block, and get on O2, go to a hyperbaric chamber, and be on intrevenous fluids and anti-biotics overnight, and then to fly down to Lima the next day. Karen and I were not going to Lake Titicaca--the doctor said that he has trouble breathing there, and he was used to 11,000+ altittude. So, off I went on my next adventure.

At the clinic, they gave me a bed to lay in, some old lady O2 (the nose clip kind) and then the poor nurses jabbed me 5 times to get a vein--evidently I was really dehydrated, didn't know that-- to start the IV drip. It was ok for a while, but time moved very slowly and thankfully Karen stayed in the room most of the time. She did leave to go eat and bring me back some food to eat. As the night wore on, things got weirder--Carlos our guide stopped by once shortly after I arrived, and promised to come back-he didn't.

The doctor made arrangements for me to go the another clinic with a hyperbaric chamber, we left around midnight in a van that was an "ambluance". They brought a gurney, but I walked out on my own, thank you very much. At the chamber clinic, I had to put on PJs, since nothing metal could be in the chamber. Karen slept while I lay in the air-tight, kind of freaky chamber. It is like a sub doored tube--no handles on the inside and clear plexiglass for about 2 feet so the occupant can see out. It was weird--hissing O2 came from the bottom, and I was trying my hardest not to freak out b/c I was trapped with no escape. The plexoglass fogged up and I could see where other occupants had written on the fogged glass---kind of really freaked me out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jungle Days 2 and 3

Ohhh, poor me! My insides were unhappy, resulting in multiple trips to the bathroom. Much to my chagrin, the water is shut off each night at 10 pm. Let's just say that being unable to flush was not a good thing at all. I was up all night, sick and sitting on the toilet. The snoring from next door was incredible, never have I heard such loud snores from what sounded like 10 people. If this family had a dog, the dog would have snored as well. I am sure the noise from our side, while not snoring, was not much better. Sorry!

Day finally dawned and I felt worse, the intestinal issue moving up to my stomach. I hate feeling like I am going to throw up, and the mixture of that feeling plus the need to sit on the toilet made for a really bad time. Karen tried to get me something to drink, but I really couldn't drink or eat anything. I felt like crap. Finally, I puked in the trash can and slept a little. I was miserable, but at least it was kind of nice in the room, not hot, small breeze and I could see the jungle outside of the room. Karen brought some ginger ale and crackers which I nibbled on, and then some chicken soup, which I could not eat. It was bright yellow. The color alone made me gag.

Karen got to go on a little hike, and pond boat ride, and took some good photos for me to see. I could not stand up but did rotate between the bed and the hammock. Finally, in the late afternoon, I took a shower and felt a teeny bit better. Still could not eat anything but crackers, but did try to drink ginger ale. The snoring family left, so night 2 was better and I got some more needed sleep.

By Day 2, I could actually get up and showered without any problem. I ate breakfast and walked around the big lodge a bit. Even after 2 days at sea level, I was dizzy and winded when I climbed to the second floor. I knew this was bad, and told Carlos I needed to see a doctor when we got back to Cusco later that day. It was really unfortunate that I got super sick in the jungle and we had such a short time there, as there was a lot that we could have done there. They had biking, hiking, kayaking, canopy climbing, etc. that Karen and I would have loved to have done. But, all I saw was the view out of the room. Oh well.

We left early to go back to fly back to Cusco. The boat ride back was much faster, given we were going with the current and the bus ride back was much the same as the one out to the boat launch. Bright orange dirt road, many unfinished bridges, people on motorcyles, people doing laundry in the water. We went to an ice cream place in town, and then flew out and back to Cusco. Not a terribly exciting town.

The minute we landed in Cusco, I got dizzier. We were to leave the next day to go to Lake Titicaca, several thousand feet higher than Cusco.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christmas and Jungle Day 1

Sooo, back in Cusco for Christmas eve and day. Slept in sort of, and away Karen and I went to walk around town to see the Christmas parades. It was kind of neat, all the surrounding villages get dressed up in costumes and march around the main square. Very colorful and interesting, most seem to make fun of the Spanish, but at the same time, are deeply Catholic. We watched from a second floor coffeshop and then it began once again to rain. A Peruvian woman who said her name was Paula, latched onto us, trying to sell us some carved gourds (yes, we did buy some). Anyway, she wasn't as obnoxoius as others and we negioated what we thought was a pretty good deal; $50 for 3. They are pretty intricately carved and a nice reminder of Peru.

I managed to make it through a good part of the day, but as the group decided to continue walking about, I got too tired and went back to hotel to sleep. At this point, my breathing sound was freaking me out a bit, so I asked Karen if she could hear it. She said yes, but that it had happened to her and it was no big deal. I may be able to use that line for the rest of my life.

The group went out for dinner on Christmas day, and then out drinking and dancing. I didn't even eat dinner and laid around trying to rest and sleep. The next morning, we left for the jungle, another travel snafu as we weren't even sure when we were leaving or what we could or should bring. We landed in Puerto Maldonato in the early afternoon and were met by our jungle guides. We were bussed to their company headquarters, given some fresh fruit juice and water and then a tour of this snake rehab center. Very interesting. They also had humping turtles, a small cheeta-like cat and lots of snakes. Got to hold a boa and had my photo taken. Down at sea level, I thought I'd feel better, but not really.

We drove around Puerto Maldonato for a bit, not much to see but unfinished bridges, dirt roads, an unfinished highway, lots and lots of motorcyles and scooters and the usual unfinished buildings. We finally drove off into the wild, down dirt roads to our long boat canoe for the boat ride to the jungle encampment. The boat was about 30 feet long, and about four or five feet wide, wooden with one of those long handled motors that can be raised in shallow water. The ride was interesting, passing multiple unfinished bridges, as well as several families doing laundry in the muddy creeks. The boat ride was fine, we were fed lunch once we were underway, and the trip was pretty and interesting, but very, very long. The river was kind of high, with quite a bit of flotsam such as trees and large branches. Thankfully, we didn't see any dead animals or bodies. As the sun began to go down, we were not near the lodge, and then the trip became an adventure. One guide was in the bow with a light, shining on the stuff the captain was to miss and there was a lot of trees and large pieces of debris in the water at this time. I was slightly nervous, because although I knew I could swim, I wasn't sure if things in the water would let me!

Finally we arrived safely at the lodge. We had to climb up an embankment and walk a bit to get to the lodge, and I nearly passed out trying to walk up the slight hill. I was really getting tired of the not being able to breathe thing. The lodge was very neat and we ate a nice dinner immediately. Afterwards, we were shown to our rooms, which were partitioned off under a large roof, with two beds with mosquito netting, a hammock, and a seperate bathroom. The walls did not go up to the roof, and they were quite thin. There was a family next to us that had the loudest snores I have ever heard and all of them snored. As I struggled to sleep, I realized that it was not just the snores keeping me guts had started to roil.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Inca Trail Day 4

The final day on the Inca trail was an early one; the porters scratched at our tent at 3:30 am and before we even could get out, they started taking the tent down. It was early, it was rainy and we were hustled out of the tent to breakfast before we were even really awake. So, breakfast up until this morning was pretty hearty--not so on the last day. We got one pancake and that was it. Not a lot for an entire morning. Everyone at the camp (there were probably over a 100 people) was crammed into the bar/restaraunt building to wait for 4:30 since the checkpoint didn't open until 5am. So, we all sat there, stood there, waiting to get going. Evidently, since it was Christmas eve day, the porters all wanted to hustle down the mountain to catch early trains to get back to their familes--which I understand, but really? 3:30am?

Finally, we all left and then waited at the checkpoint for a bit until we could all get through. Day 4 was mostly downhill again, so I was able to keep up; not that I could breathe. At the Temple of the Sun, the sky unzipped and the rain intensified to the point of absurdity. We could not see Machu Pichu from there, and of course, there was no sun. Rain, rain, rain pouring rain as we walked down the mountain past some other ruins and then finally into Machu Pichu itself, well past it to the final checkpoint. The rain was hard and sideways. We huddled under some cover with a bunch of other tourists and hikers, trying to decide what to do. Finally, most of us agreed to brave the rain and get a truncated tour of Machu Pichu, a couple of our group elected to go down to the Aqua Caliente (town) to dry out.

I wish I could say that Machu Pichu was the best thing I ever saw, but I didn't see much of it since it was raining too hard to see. The Incans had cut slots into the walls and drainageways for water removal, and the water shooting out of these slots was more like a fire hose than not. The water was coming out so hard, that it shot out more than 10 feet and would have knocked a person over. Water was pouring down the steps like mini rivers and the rain just kept pounding. Our guide, Julio, said he had never seen it rain this hard. Still, it was a pretty location, and the buildings were cool. We scooted off the mountain down to Aqua Caliente and met up with the others at a restaraunt at about 10 am. We were told we were not going to get lunch until 1 pm and we were all very hungry. Our trip guide, Carlos, was supposed to meet us at Machu Pichu, but he was a no show, and he didn't show up until close to 1pm. We all had to buy food early or we were going to be very grumpy.

Walking around the town was still hard for me, I couldn't climb steps or go uphill and the sound of my breathing was getting weird. Since I was on antibiotics for my brief stint of diaherra, my ears got sunburned, adding to my happiness. The town was very touristy, and of course, it had a craft market packed with the same crafty things. Finally, and I do mean finally, we got lunch (pizza, ok but not great) and then really finally, we got on the train to begin our journey back to Cusco. The train was cool, an old train that had been redone and was very nice. The ride was slow, but better than walking! At the station, we transferred to a bus and then back to Cusco. I was beat. Carlos had prepared a nice Christmas eve meal, with a cooked turkey and we ate a lot and I crashed. Karen and some others went out to see the festivities on the town. There were lots and lots of fireworks, and they said it was almost like being in a war zone with everyone shooting off fireworks in large crowds.

I slept and listened to my bubbly breathing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Inca Trail Day 3

The 3rd day of hiking dawned a bit rainy, but not drenching. We were awakened, as usual, by a porter scratching at our tent, with hot cocoa tea and a small basin of hot water to wash in. At this point we learned to get up, packed and out the tent as fast as possible, or the porters would begin taking down our tent around us! Having done that, and visited the seatless toilet, we ate a nice hot breakfast and began our day of hiking. The rain, unfortuately, did not stay away for long and soon we were again hiking in it.

The third day was the longest distance--I think it was 10 miles--but a mix of up, down and level hiking, through some valleys and across some ridges and then down miles of steps. I was still feeling like shit, without the ability to catch my breathe, and, while the downhill and level trails were ok, any uphill was agony. We again, hiked until around 2 pm before we got to our lunch spot, another camp area which would have looked out over some good views, but which was just more clouds. As soon as we got to the spot and took off our packs, the rain started in earnest. Lunch was good, as usual, with hot soup, an entree and tea/water. The bathroom was again seatless, and about 1/4 mile down a path, I struggled to get back up to our dining tent. I was beginning to feel like I had a fever. The rain poured, and then really poured, when our guide, Julio, said we needed to get moving, so we could make the final camp site in time for dinner. Off we went, into the absolute drenching downpour. This was our lot for most of the remainer of the day, as we started down the thousands of steps for this part of the trail. Water was running in rivers down the stone steps and its a wonder no one slipped. Thank god for hiking poles. I was able to keep up with Karen going down the steps, which made me feel like less of a loser. We passed a couple of more ruins, one right after we left the lunch spot and another some hours later. I chose not to hike up steps to one of the ruins, chosing to sit below a rock overhang and rest. I was beat at this point, and feeling worse by the hour.

After the break, we descended through a rain forest part, in the rain, and down more steps. Porters were running down the steps with their huge packs, like it was nothing. Pretty impressive. The last couple of hours was the hardest for me, I was feverish, and tired, and dizzy and just wanted to lie down. I began to be a bit concerned as I was really feeling bad.

The last camp site is the same for everyone, it was packed, and there were some hot showers and a restaraunt/bar. As we finally got there, the rain stopped and we could see the river valley and surrounding mountains. Very pretty. I crashed for a bit before dinner. As I lay there, I could hear a couple of porters talking behind the tent, one guy kept reciting the names of the porters, like he was counting them, I presume to know how the tip was to be divided up. Weird. Karen, along with some of the others in the group went to the "bar" and had some beers, I rallied enough to walk down there, but didn't stay long. The last meal was followed by the tip ceremony, where we as a group gave tips to the cook, the porters and the guides. It was kind of strange, Julio was translating and I swear he didn't translate what they said correctly. Not sure why. More partying ensued, not for me, I was trying to sleep and feeling like shit. Sometime in the night, it began to rain again.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inca Trail Day 2 50 Steps

Day 2 on the Inca Trail is the hard day. It's the day that the climb up to Dead Women's Pass occurs, and that means 4-5 hours of hiking uphill, sometimes very steep uphill to an altitude of over 14,000 feet. So, the day again started out cloudy and rainy. The uphill hiking started right away from camp and again, right away my head was pounding, legs weak and I was gasping for breathe. Nearly last in line again, I struggled up to the first set of ruins of the day, very cool wayside for travelers with what was probably a great view, but was covered in creepy clouds. After resting a bit, we continued up and up and up to bathroom break stop on a relatively flat area with some more campsites. There were women selling candy bars, Gatorade, water and other treats, which they lug up every day (I saw them go past me earlier in the climb). I bought a Snickers bar and used the squatter. Thankfully it was a sqautter not a seatless toilet!

After the break, more climbing and more gasping and I was really struggling badly just to move forward. Kind of made the IM seem easy. Lunch was at another camp area, with lots of food. I really just wanted soup, and was not really hungry. The uphill was relentless, one could look down and see the trail snaking along the side of the mountain and the porters and other hikers making their way up. I was losing it badly at this point, and nearly broke down as I tried my hardest to walk a bit more quickly. Not happening. Finally, I decided to break it down like an IM run, just get from point to point and not think about the whole. This led me to decide on 50 steps at a time. So that's what I did. Walked 50 steps and stopped for air, walked 50 steps and stopped. Sometimes counting in Spanish, sometimes in English, but moving forward 50 steps at a time. This of course, led to my thinking about how 50 is a good number for many things and I thought about all the things 50 could mean: 50 seconds, 50 steps, 50 minutes, 50 hours, 50 days, 50 pounds, 50 runs, ect. Now it makes no sense at all, but it did on the mountain!

With the rain now pouring, and the wind picking up, my slow 50 step mantra got me up to Dead Woman's Pass--and I wasn't the last person in our group! Of course the rain was pounding and it was super windy, so once we all made it up, we skeddadled down as fast as we could to our next campsite, down in the valley. We could see the colors of the tents as we hiked down the steep and slippery steps and slopes. I seemed to do ok on the downhill, but my freakin back started to kill, so about 2/3s of the way down, Karen took my pack. Bliss.

Camp was chaotic, many campsites and lots of activity. The bathroom was seatless. Arrghh. The clouds hung low and intermittently rained as we ate another huge meal and sat around playing cards until nearly 9pm. The porters were pissed, as the dinner tent is their sleep area, but we didn't know that at this time. I took a nap as soon as we got there, so I actually rallied a bit and played some cards with the group. Sleep was fitfull, my head kept pounding.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Inca Trail-Day 1

Morning dawned, well not so much dawned as a lightening of the gray and rainy sky, on the day we were to start the 4 day hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. I awoke with a need to go to the potty, and promptly began taking anti-biotics due to, well, you know. Breakfast was good, more cocoa tea (I was getting a bit tired of it at this point) and an egg with bread and jam. After that we waited, as usual, waited for the bus that was to take us to Kilometer 82, the traditional start to the trail. We waited some more. After an hour or more, the bus arrives and we get all our gear loaded and off we go into the rain.

We finally got to the beginning of the trail, and it was raining, raining, raining. We all get under these open-aired shelters and our trail guide, Julio, went through the 4 days in summary. The place was packed with tourists and porters. The porters were stacking up our porter bags and weighing these piles of stuff, some were carried by blankets knotted at the chest, others were carried by traditional shoulder straps, all looked super heavy. Finally, we start down by the river to begin the trek. Oops, not yet. There was a passport check, which we all had to go through, along with our trail permits. Several people had incorrect information on their permits, I was male, Karen had the wrong passport number, and one of our group, Jenny had mysteriously aged a decade. Finally, we all get through the checkpoint and start the trek.

We crossed the river and then there was a steep, but fairly short ascent. I nearly passed out at the top. I finally realized I was not in good shape and took a Perivian altitude pill, which seemed to help. Or, maybe it helped that the trail was mostly level. The rain stopped after about an hour or so, and we hiked past some small and then a large set of Incan ruins. The ruins were pretty cool, so much still standing and so organized looking. We were told that many of the ruins along the way were way stations, military outposts, or food storage places.

At lunch (around 3 pm) we had our first taste of expedition trekking. The dining tent was set up, and we had a huge lunch, with salad, soup and entree. All very good. We also had our first use of the porcelin pit for a bathroom. We called them squatters and came to prefer them to the alternative. The last part of Day 1 was a climb up to camp 1, from another checkpoint. I nearly passed out on that climb as well and stumbled into camp 1, very discouraged and dizzy. At the camp, there were a couple of families living in their adobe huts with no glass in the windows and no indoor plumbing. The toilet was the 2nd variety we found along the trail, a toilet bowl with no seat. We hated them.

Dinner was again a lot of food, and most of the group played cards for a bit before dinner. I slept. The trek was not turning out so good for me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Peru Trip #2

Monday (12/20/2010) dawned with the promise of biking and hiking. Carlos the guide was late yet again, so we were late leaving for our downhill biking as we made our way to the town of Pisac and eventually to the town of Ollantaytambo. As we were going to start the Inca trail on Tuesday, we had to pack for the trail. This should have been a simple task, we were to be given porter bags for our clothes and sleeping bags and the total weight of what we could bring was to be no more than 8 kilos or 15 pounds. Well, getting that message to us proved to be very difficult and confusion reigned for more than an hour before we got all packed and ready. The porter bags were late, Carlos did not convey to us what it was that we were to do in a way that made sense to any of the 12 of us, so we basically unpacked, repacked, unpacked and repacked until we got it right. He kind of forgot to tell us about the weight limit and that the remainder of our stuff would stay in the hotel storage. Arrgghhh.

Downhill biking from outside of Cusco was fine, I was able to fly down b/c it doesn't require effort. Still had a hard time breathing, but kept thinking I'd feel better any moment. We biked down to Pisac. In Pisac, we wandered around yet another open air market, with people selling the same stuff they did in Cusco. Carlos did get us into the back of a jewelry store to see how they make silver stuff, which was kind of neat, but kind of weird. We saw our first cooked cuy as well as some live ones in their little cages. Guess it makes sense to eat Guinea pigs, they are small, they don't eat much and multiply like crazy. Still, seeing a skinned and cooked one did not make we want to eat it.

We waited until 2 pm before lunch was handed out, and then another 20 minutes before we got to eat it. We had breakfast at 7:30 am. Hunger is not something I expected on a guided trip. Our comfort level with Carlos the guide was fading fast. After lunch, some chicken-vegetable-potatoe mix, we hiked up to some ruins, the name escapes me. The hike was harder than it should have been, and again, I should have been paying my lack of breathing a bit more mind, but I thought it would all be ok. So, I was the last person up to the ruins, and gasping for breathe and dizzy. Oh well. The ruins were impressive, the terraces for crops, the buildings were all still standing and in good shape. Amazing that people who could build such things did not have a written lanuage!

We toured the ruins and then hiked downhill back to the bus, much easier for me downhill. We then continued for about 2 hours to Ollaytaytambo, where most people stay before starting the Inca trail. As we drove, it started raining. Not a good sign. The town was ok, our hostal (which is really a small hotel) was clean, but sparse and we walked around the town a bit before having our dinner at an italianish restaurant next to our hostal. The food, well, I got pesto pasta and have never seen such pesto, and not in a good way. Lots and lots of it, and it was not paste-like, but sauce like. Not the worst thing to eat, but not the best.

Our porter bags could not go with us on the bus, because it was too small. They finally arrived at 9pm, when we were all ready for bed. Again, the group was kind of becoming leery of the professionalism of the trip.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas vacation 2010-Peru Part 1

As it turns out, Martina Navratilova and I have more in common than the obvious (you know, my stellar tennis skills!). But, more on that later. Peru, was an interesting trip and to really bore you, I'll write about it in a number of posts.

Leaving Richmond was not an issue, except that Shelley didn't get the message that we were having pre-trip massages and arrived at our house to drive us to the airport early and then nearly drove off with out us! All our flights were good, and the flight from Atlanta to Lima was not too bad. We arrived in Lima around 1 am and then had to wait until 4:30ish for our flight to Cusco. The airport is nice enough to have benches that one can sleep on, so we dozed after trying our first Spanish food ordering. Karen got ice cream, which ended up being a cookie tube with some ice cream inside for 7 soles. I got a cappacino. We napped until our flight and then off to Cusco.

Cusco at 8am was interesting, got a taxi ride to Hotel Prisma and discovered the crazy driving in Peru. Lanes are wherever and horns are the means of communication. The drive through Cusco was informative, and I can best describe Cusco as old, but still unfinished. Many, many buildings are not complete, with pillars and rebar sticking up on the top floor as if the next floor is under construction, but of course it is not. Dilapidated adobe brick buildings set next to new sort of shiny buildings. Roads both paved and not. Very chaotic and unorganized looking.

After checking in and sipping our first cup of cocoa tea, we set out for some breakfast at Jack's. More cocoa tea, and a satisfying breakfast in our belly's we wandered out into Cusco. Wow, we were not expecting to be so accosted by Peruvians selling all manner of trinkets, paintings, sweaters, scarves, carved gourds, etc. We made the mistake of looking at Pepe's paintings and then were swarmed by a lady selling sweaters, another guy selling paintings and two girls with baby lambs or llamas who thrust the baby animal into Karen's arms and tried to get us to take a photo, which they would then demand money for. Thankfully, a policeman scooted them all away. We eventually learned to keep walking and say No gracias or No quiero very firmly. Peru is for sale people, one trinket at a time.

We did small stints out into Peru the first day, walking around for a bit and then napping in the hotel. We walked around a good deal, venturing up the hill to the artist area where we were again accosted by people selling themselves for photos...this time two old ladies and a grown llama. I made Karen take their picture and pay them....Ha. Everything is negoitiable, and we also learned to low ball the price of what we would buy. We had dinner at Green's Organics which was very good. Of course we got there at 6 and while they were open, we were the only diners for most of the meal! Crashing for the night by 9 pm, we both slept a bit fitfully and I awoke with a killer headache. Should have begun to pay attention at this point!