What an uncomfortable night I spent! I woke up around midnight with my stomach and guts bloated with wind, one of the unpleasant symptoms of a lower atmospheric pressure. I couldn’t get comfortable no matter which way I lay; what I really needed was to be trocarised. Several times I got up during the night to try to go to the loo, and I was eventually sick, which added to the headache that was starting. 🙁
At 5.30am Trevor and I were both awake, and I told him that if we’d had to be up at this time, there was no way I would make it. However, I had a couple of hours to try to get better, so I took a couple of paracetamol with a glass of water.
When the wake-up call came at half past seven, I sat on the edge of the bed but I really wasn’t feeling too good, so unfortunately I was going to miss the half-day boat trip on Lake Titicaca. Trevor went down for his breakfast and brought me back a cup of coffee; he also left several packs of pills on my bedside cabinet; paracetamol, Imodium and some migraine tablets, Migraleve, as well as a bottle of San Luis mineral water.
Just before 9.00am Trevor went down to the front of the hotel to join the others. I could hear the laughter and chatter outside our window while they waited for the coach to arrive. I hoped I would feel better soon; we hadn’t come all the way to Peru to spend the day in bed and waste our holidays. 🙁
Once I heard the bus drive off I slowly got out of bed, and got washed and dressed. Then I drank some more water, read a bit of my Kindle and did some of this blog. I decided that the Migraleve might be stronger than paracetamol so I took one of them; it was true, I felt much better.
At 12.40pm I heard the bus coming back, and sure enough when I looked out of the window here was everyone on their way into the hotel. I walked down the stairs to meet Trevor coming up; together we went back to the room where he told me all about the boat trip on the lake.
Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,507 feet. It has a couple of steamships that were brought over from Britain; they were dismantled, shipped to Peru in pieces, then brought up to the lake and reassembled. There are also some curious floating islands made out of totora reeds; the people of the mid-coast region of Peru have used totora to build their caballitos de totora, small rowed and straddled fishing vessels, for at least 3,000 years. The Uru people, an indigenous people pre-dating the Inca civilization, live on Lake Titicaca upon floating islands fashioned from this plant. The Uru people also use the totora plant to make boats (balsas) of the bundled dried plant reeds.
It sounded as though I had missed a good excursion. 🙁
As I was feeling better and was anxious to get out of the room, we decided to take a slow stroll round to the Casa Andina around the corner to use their ATM machine, as we were running short of soles. Neither of us was particularly hungry, but I though I could eat a small snack, maybe crisps or something.
We walked out into the sunshine and came upon a small general store where I bought a packet of cheese flavour crisps and some Red Bull. Then we went to the ATM and drew out some more money. We decided we’d hail a taxi and go into the town, where we’d been told a large market was on today.
As we were walking along the road, a taxi overtook us and stopped a short way ahead. He agreed to take us to the market for five soles (£1.25) and off we went. I wanted to go to a chemist as we’d run out of paracetamol.
In the chemist I explained to the lady that I had dolor de cabeza (a headache, or pain in the head) and made her understand I was nauseous as well. She quickly understood that I had altitude sickness and came back with a big jar in which were a number of red and white capsules, priced at 2.50 soles each. She said to take one every eight hours and it would soon put me right. We bought four of the capsules for 10 soles, as well as a couple of refreshing orange-flavoured ice lollies.
There were a lot of market stalls in the streets. but the stuff they were selling was not specific to Peru. For example, there were lots of stalls selling household hardware, as well as clothing stalls and other vendors selling sportswear; I think most of it was knock-off or fake. The vendors, while trying to get you to buy from them, weren’t too pushy if you said no.
One of the things I noticed was how the people all seemed to have the same look about them. The native Amerindian Peruvians all seemed to be short but fairly stocky, with dark skin, black hair, and round faces with elongated eyes, flattened noses and wide cheekbones. The women all wore the same type of clothing; woollen stockings or leggings, with large, voluminous gathered skirts over the top of them (not the most flattering of garments). They also wore knitted cardigans or jumpers, fringed ponchos and a lot of them had on wide-brimmed hats. Several of the stall-holders had babies with them and seeing them breastfeeding their young was not uncommon.
We didn’t see anything we wanted to buy, so we took another taxi back to the hotel, where I swallowed one of the red and white capsules with a glass of water. I don’t know what was in the capsules, but after an hour I felt almost normal – what a difference! I wish I’d discovered these capsules days ago! 🙂 Trevor had also taken a capsule, and we both perked up considerably.
At dinner that evening, we’d regained some of our appetite but I stuck to a salad as I still didn’t want to eat a large meal. Alison was concerned because she said she could only see five alpacas outside; she was sure that there had been six yesterday so we hoped that one of them wasn’t on tonight’s menu. Trevor and I even felt as though we could manage a Cusqueña each, and I really enjoyed the cold beer when it came. 🙂
After dinner we returned to our room, watched the football on TV, and settled down for the night, as it was another 5.30am start in the morning. The effect of the magic capsules hadn’t worn off yet, so I was pleased to report that I enjoyed a great night’s sleep, one of the best I’d had for days. 🙂
Tomorrow we were due to set off for Cuzco, where we would spend four nights before the conclusion of our Peruvian adventure.
1 thought on “It’s all about the Altitude”
I can relate to the altitude sickness, I’ve had in Tibet and Chile. In Chile as was at just over 17,000 feet in a remote area so only way to ‘fix’ it was come back down – which we were planning on doing anyway as the track to the top of Ojos Del Salado was too unable to be ridden on by bicycles – yes they rode from sea level to 17,200 feet, Devo and I were driving the support car.
In Tibet the doctor was called to the hotel, he said he was there treating a foreigner every 2nd day 🙂
Like your magic red and white capsules I was put on about 3 different IVs (one had belladonna in it, isn’t that poisonous???) and after a good sleep was fine, so much so the next day my tour guide said he’d never had a tourist climb to the top of Potala Palace that quickly!