Published: March 18th 2006March 18th 2006
View from my bed
During our siesta time, I woke up and when I opened my eyes, this is what I saw - thought it was worth a picture.
And here I sit having just arrived in Cuzco less than an hour ago. Nancy´s up in our room and I came down to do a quick email check and write up a few thoughts on the past 18 hours.
Before I get into the events and other thoughts, I want to say Happy Birthday to Esther, so, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ES!!! I´d call, but I don´t think my oxygen and sleep-deprived mind can totally wrap itself around how to use the phone here quite yet. It´s all I can do to type on this funky keyboard with all the superfluous characters that the Spanish language requires.
Okay, so onto the play-by-play…
My flight from EWR was fine except for being one of the most turbulent flights I´ve ever been on. Seriously. And for most of the flight as well… But, I kept thinking, at least I´m in first class (having used miles to upgrade), so if we crash in the Andes, I´ll go down with lots of leg room and a good meal.
A guy named Brian was my neighbor on the trip and also was heading out to Cuzco with a bunch of his friends and
then doing the Machu Picchu thing starting Wednesday, a day before us. Lucky guy having gotten into first class because his buddy he was traveling with got a free upgrade for a friend. They´re doing the trip with 4 other suckers who were all stuck back in coach, poor things.
Anyway, once the plane was on the ground, I collected my bag and proceeded to wait for Nancy's flight to arrive and for her to make her way through the maze of glass hallways and escalators that is the Lima airport - honestly, coming down to immigration from the gate made me feel like some sort of lab rat with all these people watching us from the other side of various glass walls.
The baggage claim area was fairly large, but difficult to get lost in so I had no doubt I´d be able to find Nancy easily enough.
While waiting, I was highly entertained by how many Peruvian men were walking around with their shirts 3/4 of the way unbuttoned showing off their thick rugs and gold chains; as well as watching these girls who were representatives of the FreeCell kiosk at the end of the baggage claim area. You might ask how I knew that they were FreeCell reps - well, it was really no secret. They were dressed in bright yellow spandex outfits with FREE CELL written in large letters going up the sides of their arms and legs. The outfits were otherwise covered with flags from just about every country imaginable making them look more like a walking poster children for the United Nations. The shirts also had emblems of all the major credit cards out there that apparently they accept (however it was unclear to me as to whether they personally
accepted those cards for heaven knows what purpose, or if just their company did). Their job, as it appeared to me, was to be more-or-less cell phone pimps. They would assault people who were coming through immigration with offers and promises of free incoming calls and ease of in-country calling. They were not at all unlike the women at the perfume counters at Bloomingdales. A little annoying, but certainly entertaining.
Finally I saw that FP´s flight had landed and her bag was quick to emerge from on the beltway. She followed (through the door, not the beltway) a few minutes later. We figured out the taxi situation and then left the baggage claim area passing through a narrow roped-off corridor that was surrounded by a crowd of people at least 3 or 4 deep. I´ve never felt so much like a celebrity! It was really kind of cool… Very movie-premier-ish.
Our Lima hotel (Colonial Inn) was situated right next to a Pappa John´s Pizzeria (I wonder of Pappa John even knows that he has a store open in Lima…I wouldn´t imagine he gets out here much). The room was a really good size with 3 beds, a bright blue tiled bathroom, and a fan that sounded somewhat like it might leap off the wall at any moment and slice us to shreds while we slept…and yes, we HAD to keep it on - it was really hot and humid out and there was no air conditioning.
This morning our taxi driver from the night before (Jesus) came back ´round at 8 to run us back to the airport for our flight to Cuzco which we almost couldn´t get on (some mix-up with the tickets not being e-tickets, but paper and of course we didn´t have the paper tickets and so they wouldn´t give us our boarding passes. Took some time, but we sorted it out and still managed to make the flight).
We touched down in Cuzco at noon and got a quick ride to the hotel. Cuzco, from what I´ve seen so far, is not what I was expecting. I think I had imagined it smaller,for some reason. Rather it´s something of a sprawling town with houses and buildings that creep up the mountains surrounding them. It´s a very interesting look and atmosphere and I can´t quite think of what I would liken it to, but give me time and I´ll come up with something… I´ll also post some pictures to this blog a little later, but I haven´t really taken any yet - but be sure to re-check this post later for pics.
The hotel here (Prisma Hotel) is great - open and airy. Our room is smaller, but it has a balcony that looks out over the city and is just beautiful. The one major downside (or blessing, depending on how you look at it) is that the hotel doesn´t have an elevator and we´re on the 4th floor. And remember, the air is thin here at over 10,000 feet, so it´s a bit of a task to climb up those stairs!
Now, before you ask, yes - I can definitely tell that the air is thinner. It was an immediate change in my breathing when I stepped off the plane and almost felt a little lightheaded. FP noticed it as well (which I was glad of because at first I wondered if it was just in my head). It´s a little better now, but after climbing up 4 flights of stairs, I was huffing waaay more than I would normally be.
As for the altitude sickness, well, it´s not something that tends to hit right away - my understanding is that it takes at least 3 hours or so to really set in (if it´s going to at all), and then apparently the 3rd day in high altitude is known to be the worst. So we´ll see, I´ll keep you all posted.
Right now I´ve got to get back to the room and take a nap. I´m completely exhausted…and sleeping is also supposed to help with acclimation.
More to come!