After our tumultuous bus ride into Cusco, I was looking forward to four long days of resting, eating delicious Peruvian food, and mostly just adjusting to the altitude. After a luxuriously long shower (finally, hot water!) we settled in for the night.
We woke up fifteen hours later, blinking through our sleep induced haze.
The next four days passed by in a blur of sleeping, eating, and resting. Although the altitude never made me as sick as it had on that fateful bus ride, I felt incapacitated on a daily basis. Just climbing the stairs was an effort, one that I rewarded with a long nap in our hostel’s centrally located hammocks. Instead of feasting on Ceviche and Aji de Gallina, I found myself craving pasta, pizza, and every carbohydrate I could lay my hands on. My body felt like it was working overtime to compensate for the lack of oxygen.
When we finally felt rested enough to venture outside our hostel and check out the local markets, what should have been a ten minute walk took twenty five. Everything felt slower, and took more concerted effort.
Over the next two weeks, as we explored Cusco, hiked the Inca trail, and headed to the floating islands on Lake Titicaca, my sister and I started noticing many little differences in our daily routine. Whether it was needing to apply chapstick every ten minutes, or having a constant cold, despite sitting in the blazing sunlight, we would blame it on the altitude.
If I felt starving in the middle of the day, and ate an entire can of pringles in a crazy fit of hunger, it was because of the altitude.
If I needed to moisurize my hands several times a day, it was because of the altitude.
When my sister’s ankle suddenly became swollen, totally out of the blue, it was because of the altitude.
When I felt hungover after one Cusquena beer, it was because of the altitude.
When I had a bad hair day, it was because of the altitude.
I don’t know what we’re goint to blame things on when we get to lower ground...
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: Riding the Night Bus to Cusco (anamericangirlintransit.com)