Tuesday, 12 November 2019


A typical airport check in....

At 06:15am, yes, in the morning! Tour Guide Desi and our driver collected us from the cavernous hotel lobby. Many other people were camped there already, distinguished by their anxious expressions and gigantic suitcases. They were waiting to board a big coach.

On the way to the airport Desi repeated her altitude sickness guidelines:
1.     Drink lots of water
2.     Eat lots of glucose sweets
3.     Avoid too many stairs – I don’t have a problem here
4.     Avoid too much pork or beef – Easy for her to say
5.     Eat lots of vegetables - I suppose so
6.     Avoid alcohol on your first day – I am sorry - impossible
7.     In case of the need to be sick inform your local tour guide

Desi told us that several years ago there were only some five hundred visitors a year to Cusco, now 400,000 visit each year.  Most these people were, this morning, in the airport terminal building.  No stranger to busy airport terminals I was mighty glad to have Tour Guide Desi shepherding us through to check-in and departures.  

(I checked later: It is estimated that around 1.5 million tourists visit Cusco every year, Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco have become the main tourist attractions in Peru and one of the most visited in South America.) 

On our flight everyone was chewing or sucking furiously on sweets and confectionary shaped like coffee beans. I felt vulnerable as I packed my prayer book in my suitcase, which I checked in to the aircraft’s hold. 

Cuzco is 11,150 feet above sea level. Sunshine and heat bore down as we crossed the terminal car park to our minibus with our new handler, Tour Guide Vitoria. Off we sped through streets of Cuzco. Our driver, Domingo, immediately applied his casual approach to fellow road users. This continued for another seven hours. Whether the road was narrow or wide, on coming traffic or no, there was one speed, ‘breakneck’.

The day was characterised by motion as well as mountain sickness, thanks in part to Big D’s driving. Added to which my dread of heights and the vertiginous roadsides made sight seeing a test.

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Thank you very much for your comments - Tim