Saturday, March 14, 2015

Altitude sickness in Cusco

When you go to a place as high as Cusco you always study the place and all the tips and tricks to avoid altitude sickness. And so we did. However a small detail turned out to be very important. Between the flights from Quito to Lima, and from Lima to Cusco I drank very little water. And that was my downfall. After arriving at the hostel slightly dizzy, we went out to find the travel agency for the trip to Machu Picchu to pay the remaining of the tour. And it was around that time that it hit me. Dizziness, felling very weak and as if I was going to pass out.
The walk back to the hostel was awful with my mind full of negative thoughts and stopping to rest 2 times during the 500m walk. As I arrived I laid down in bed feeling awful, with no energy at all.
After a few coca tea mugs and some water fetched by my girlfriend I was finally able to sit up, and after some more able to walk out the door seeking a restaurant. We found one right in front of the hostel for 6 soles. Entrée was Muña soup. I had my soup and half the one served to my girlfriend. A day later I found out that Muña is excellent to help the body expand the lungs to take more air with each breathing. Am I lucky or what. I'm not sure whether it was the coca tea, the Muña soup or all the water ingested with them, but soon after I was felling way better.
All I can say is that the altitude sickness is very democratic in selecting victims. It does not matter whether you are a marathoner running 50 miles a week or a 70 year old who smokes 3 packs a day. All that said, if you go to the altitude, go slow. Not walking slow, more like sit down for some 3 hours and see how your body reacts. Drink tons of water. Follow all the advice to the letter. Maybe nothing will happen, but maybe altitude sickness will catch you and let me tell you she's a bitch.
The good news is that apart from those 2 hours of terror nothing else happened to me and my girlfriend suffered nothing at all.

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