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Published: January 13th 2009
"Sorry it´s been rather a long time since we did one of these"
"How have you been?"
"Really, that sounds painful, but I´m sure you can get some cream for it"
Anyway, on with the updates. After the jungle trip we headed to the relative safety of Lake Titicaca, which is either the highest navigable lake in the world or not the highest navigable lake in the world depending which person / guidebook you believe. Either way it's pretty high at 3,820m above sea level and is also rather beautiful. The lake straddles the border between Bolivia and Peru and our first stop was Copacabana, a small town on the shores on the Bolivian side.
We intended to stay in Copacabana for a couple of days, taking boat trips to the local islands where legend suggests the birth of the Inca gods took place. Unfortunately the morning after arriving Matt's stomach decided it preferred taking trips to the toilet and was that enthralled by the experience thought it would continue for another three days. Luckily we had decided that we deserved a treat after our jungle exploits so we'd checked into a beautiful hotel
where we had a big comfy suite with lovely bedroom and bathroom and a lounge / conservatory with a stunning view. Chrissie was a star for the three days, running off to the pharmacy to test out her Spanish requesting all kinds of drugs and rehydration formulas to get Matt well again. She also coped admirably with amusing herself while Matt slept almost non-stop, not even making it out of the room for any meals for two days.
By day four Matt managed to accompany Chrissie around the town and the lakefront. It really is a sweet little place and it's a shame we couldn't explore the surrounding area more. One other thing we did enjoy was the sunsets from the room which were amazing and as it got dusky, clouds would roll in off the lake and give us spectacular thunder storms.
Now feeling better, we decided we should just get moving, so we headed off to the Peruvian side of the lake. Puno is not such a pretty town as Copacabana, infact it's rather ugly. It has no glorious sunsets and the lakefront is a port designed for travel and industry not for pleasant romantic strolls.
People visit for one reason only and that's the day trip out onto the lake.
A few years ago, in Inca times that is, the Uro tribe were rather scared of the Incas and despite continually running away from them the Incas tended to catch up. Thus they decided to live on a lake, actually on the lake! They built floating islands out of the reed beds and have lived there ever since. Nowadays it is a major tourist attraction and they make the most of it (why not!). It is a little cheesey, but it´s interesting to be shown how they make islands, houses, boats and food all from one type of reed.
The rest of the trip is spent on the slowest motor boat in the world getting to another island and back again. This island is uneventful and required a big climb to get to the town and about 1,000 wonky steps to get back down.
As Matt was now better it was Chrissie´s turn to get unwell. Somewhere she had been bitten on her ankle by some random beasty (possibly a spider in the jungle) and the 1,000 steps had made the ankle
swell to twice it´s normal size. An Irish pharmacist on our tour told us to get Floxypoxymoxycillin or something like that and rest up for a couple of days. She´d already seen two Peruvian pharmacists who had prescribed creams that didn´t help, but we did as our Irish friend suggested. The swelling eased, but the growing hole in the ankle was a touch concerning. Nonetheless we headed to Arequipa by bus.
Arequipa is a big town, but as a tourist you just stay and wander round in the small historic centre. With Chrissie´s ankle getting worse, she could barely manage a wander so we decided that pharmacists suck and headed to the hospital. The first medic told us that there would be several days in hospital and a drip required, but then the proper doctor turned up. A quick local anaesthetic and he set about hacking the bite clean with a scalpel, most most most unpleasant! That said it´s worked and as I type weeks later the ankle is still fine with no swelling and pain, but the gaping hole unfortunately remains.
Despite the problems, we did manage to see a few bits of Arequipa. The main square
is beautiful, especially lit up at night, where we ate on a romantic balcony and played I Spy in Spanish (not so romantic). The convent - or Monasterio de Santa Catalina - was also excellent. Still occupied, the nuns spend 23 hours a day alone and self flagellate (is that spelt right?), very creepy to hear of their almost tortuous lives in such a beautiful setting.
Bodies on the mend, we booked a bus to head to Cusco, the set off point for Machu Picchu....we were back on track! Hmm maybe not, Matt´s stomach got back involved. Worse this time, it involved the shakes and searing pain. In a masochistic move we got on the overnight bus to Cusco and Matt spent the entire night shaking and admiring the facilities.
On arrival in Cusco the pain was too much so we called the doctor and within half an hour were in the back of an ambulance heading to hospital. Travelling is so much fun, you must try it sometime! A drip was attached to rehydrate and blood and ´other´tests were made. Diagnosis - Salmonella and parasites - yummo! As travel insurance covered the whole expense, the food was
alright and the cable tv smashing, it turned out to be rather a pleasant couple of days actually! Most importantly, we left with a bag full of drugs and a much healthier belly.
It took a couple of weeks to get back up to full speed, but luckily that has been the last of our health problems and we were at last able to get on with adventuring. I´ll leave the rest of Cusco to the next update I´m about to write to seperate it from the ill section.
See you in a minute.
Matt and Chrissie
x x x
P.S. You´ll have to wait til tomorrow for the 4 other updates we´ve written as the photo uploader is damn slow here and dinner and beer are far more important than you ;-)
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