My first time to South America. I arrived in Lima at 1am on a Saturday night delirious from travel albeit excited about future adventures. I did not stay in a great part of town but for a private room and bathroom for $15 a night where I only needed to rest my head for 12 hours, it was plenty suitable. My time in Lima was brief but impactful as I was definitely the only ‘gringo’ walking around these parts. The next afternoon I made my way to Cusco the city with a population of 500,000 and an elevation of 11,150ft. Having recently visited Crested Butte, with an elevation of almost 9,000ft, I assumed that I would not have much of a problem adjusting. I drank plenty of water but still found myself feeling horribly sick the second night. I had started my volunteer program this day so it was a full day of orientation and learning how to teach a class of locals how to speak English. I got half way through the class before I needed to go to bed, luckily I was co-teaching at this point and no one was depending on me. Altitude sickness, for me, I can only describe as a general terrible feeling, everything hurts and feels awful. My best piece of advice is to drink a ton of water, sleep a lot, and give yourself a few days before planning anything.
The people here are kind and small and the city itself is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. With churches dating back to the 1600s, plazas filled with flowers, more alpaca than anyone could ever need in a lifetime, & all of it surrounded by mountains covered in little homes that twinkle at night.
I took my two weeks here fairly easy, focusing most of my efforts on teaching and enjoying what Cusco has to offer. I went up to Cristo Blanco twice, explored caves, ate a lot of really good food, and drank some really delicious meracuya (passion fruit) sours made with local pisco. One Saturday was spent doing an ATV tour around the sacred valley to the salinas de maras and the other was the day of celebration for my birthday before I headed to the jungle the following Monday. I was invited to bungee jump with six others from my homestay and I couldn’t help but think ‘what better way to bring in a birthday?’ Bungee jumping was not exactly on my to do list but I do like to try almost everything at least once. It ended up causing me a lot of pain in the end due to almost flipping as I fell but I’m glad to say I have done it and will likely not do it again :) On Sunday my new friend from Belgium bought me cake and they sang me ‘Happy Birthday’ in 3 different languages. My birthday week was off to an amazing start then I left for the jungle…
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