From my Miraflores/Lima hotel I took a hotel arranged uber driver to the airport. Their black town car service was pricey so I had to risk it. I had started taking the Diamox the day prior to my Cusco arrival and my feet were painfully numb on the airport drive. It felt like 1000 Charlie horses and if someone was repeatedly jabbing my feet with needles. I read about the symptoms and already knew this to be a normal side effect so I did everything I could to feel normal. I wiggled my toes and flexed periodically and full sensation in my feet would resume and then disappear again. My stomach felt extremely irritated; like it was itchy on the inside. When I first arrived in Lima it was evening so I did not have the same experience on the way back to the airport. The driver was a little more friendly and didn’t try to kill me driving. The most shocking night to day difference was the area surrounding Lima Airport. It was super ghetto and most buildings were unfinished. The neighbourhood has a bad rap so I’m glad I was just a passer-througher. I eventually got on my plane from Lima to Cusco.
I was VERY pleased to be the second row with two empty seats beside me. After a short flight we declined in altitude and you could notice an orangey-red glow from the podge roof tiles. We deplaned on the tarmac and walked in a line into the airport.
My first steps were heavy as I could instantly feel the altitude. I felt as though I was tired and needed to have a few deep breaths. From the second you arrive in Cusco to the second you leave someone is trying to sell you something. Whether it be a tour to Machu Picchu, a necklace, their art, taxi services, massage, agua etc… I declined all the airport offers got in the first cab and headed to my main square hotel.
The driver spoken a reasonable level of English and we had a pleasant conversation. I was impressed with the architecture and old world charm of the city.
I checked into my hotel and immediately ditched my stuff to walk around and get acquainted. Every step felt as though I had just ran a 10km. I was gassed and was tired and slow. I was vegan at the time and read about a vegan restaurant I wanted to try. It said it was close by so I took note of the directions and headed out. I save money traveling by only using wifi so as soon as I was gone I could not look up directions further. I also had a pocket map so I figured I’d be fine. I walked around searching for this road and kept going in circles and squares. The city is very hilly and after just arriving at this higher altitude I was really struggling walking. I had a hard time breathing and felt lightheaded. Anyone who knows me knows I can walk for absolute days! One of my nicknames is “steps” because of my ability to walk extensively. I also am a runner and able to run 5-10km without stopping. Well 10km with training but I could bust a 5 out almost any time.
I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up down a hill far away. It was dark, I was exhausted and determined to find this place. The streets smelled like urine and then I saw a man peeing so it confirmed it. I returned up the hill and back to the hotel to wifi-up and screenshotted all the directions. I set out again and still could not fucking find this place. I had now been searching for several hours so my patience was gone and I was hangry and tired. I’m usually good with directions.
I found a vegetarian/ vegan friendly place and ordered spaghetti sin queso. The place was quaint and had a cute paint job.
The nice long black haired Spanish lady took my order and then went to the kitchen to prepare it. I also ordered a coca cola and it tasted like heaven. I received the warm food and the first bite was bland but edible. I had been searching for so long anything suitable at this point was a joy. Second bite I noticed a giant black hair intertwined through the pasta. Grossed out I ate a few bites more around the hair but was not super hungry because of the altitude and the hair so I left 75% off it and paid my bill. I left a few bucks tip and she seemed grateful but concerned I left most of the meal. I walked back to the hotel and retired for the night.
The diamox causes increased urination which caused me to get up mid slumber what felt like a hundred times. Instead of taking the recommended few days to acclimate yourself I decided to JAM pack my schedule the next few days before my Inca Trail to Machu Picchu hike. Especially day two. I had a full 14 hour tour scheduled. That was dumb.