On a high!

 

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Rather an elegant breakfast time view to kick off the day.  Actually it was a case of style over substance, because although it was all beautifully laid out, we couldn’t find many of the bits and pieces that go with breakfast.  Juice?  Butter?  Spoons?  Never mind.  We had what we needed and with an early start to catch our flight to Cuzco, we weren’t too worried.

 

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South American airports are quiet, peaceful places – not!  But our flight left more or less on time and flying over the beaches of Miraflores, I could recognise some of the landmarks we’d passed two or three times during the last couple of days.  Much of what we’ve been told was confirmed by an aerial view, too.  The surf is good, not because the waves are huge but because they start so far out.  It’s called the “Green Coast” because of the colour of the sea, not because of lush vegetation along the cliffs.  And yes, the coast does attract the cloud!

 

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Soon though, we were flying over mountains.  Occasionally I’d see a small village tucked away in a small valley and wonder what life must be like there.

 

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Even though it was a mere 55 minutes to Cuzco, we were handed a small snack and offered a drink.  Taking the advice of everyone who has offered it, we drank water.  As much of it as we could in the hope of avoiding any trace of altitude sickness.

 

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The box contained a small packet of savoury crackers, a packed of peanuts and raisins and a chocolate wafer.  Quite tasty and passed the time away nicely – by the time we’d eaten it, we were coming in to land.

 

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There was the airport down below, but the thing was, we were going to land in the opposite direction, so had to make a 180 degree turning manoeuvre.   Memories of coming in to land in Tblisi, many years ago when Russian pilots flew their planes like they were still in the airforce!  I very much dislike this part, so concentrated on something else…

 

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Was it a little fairy trapped between the window layers in front of me?  How had it got there?  See how bleached it is by the sun, yet perfectly preserved in the vacuum. How curious.

 

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We were nearly down and there was Cuzco, much larger than I’d thought.  (We later learned that there’s a population of more than 500,000)

 

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It was greener than I thought, too.  We met Marco our driver and Pamela our “guardian angel”, as she described herself and set off down towards Urubamba (about 9000ft)  in the Sacred Valley.  We’d been advised to spend a couple of days at a lower altitude than Cuzco (11 200 ft) to acclimatise and since we wanted to do whatever we could to ensure we had a great time here, of course, we took that advice.

 

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We drove through some small market towns, where Sunday afternoon trading was brisk.

 

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We passed precariously sited homes, where the government had built flights of steps so the inhabitants could access them.  Just think of climbing those steps at sea level, never mind at 11000 feet! 

 

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Most of all, we drove through wide green spaces, with dark green potato fields on each site and the Andes in the distance.  The scenery was lovely and not at all as bleak as we’d expected.

 

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Eventually, we could see a valley way down below and were pleased to think that will be our base for a few days.  It wasn’t that we felt poorly, nor that we weren’t prepared.  But we were wary and yes, we certainly felt “different”.

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Before she dropped us at our hotel, Pamela offered advice.  Drink water – lots of it.  The body dehydrates three times faster at altitude than at sea level, so alcohol isn’t recommended either. (Shame!  No pisco sours!)  Wear plenty of high factor sunscreen because the air is thin and the sun is strong.  Eat light meals – no red meat for a couple of days and above all, take it easy.  Don’t rush about but relax and spend a few hours reading (blogging!)

 

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So, here we are.  Casita number 38 is home for a couple of days and we are happy!

 

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Look how beautiful it is inside.

 

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Oh, and look at our view!

 

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We have two bulls by the fireplace; traditional Quechua symbols of farming and fertility since Inca times.  Actually, we have four bulls in total, because there are two on the roof as well.

 

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Just around the corner from our sitting room, we have a dressing area where, in one of the cupboards is the mini bar.  Alongside two bottles of wine, one bottle of beer and several other alcoholic drinks are two miniscule (albeit complimentary) bottles of water.  Now, bearing in mind the advice which is given to everyone about drinking plenty of water, together with the fact that no tap water in Peru is drinkable, wouldn’t you have thought they could have stretched to a bigger bottle?   And, having drunk those two bottles this afternoon, the trouble of getting two more was incredible… ”we’ll have to put them on your bill, Mrs Thomas”.  Well, ok then, if you must!  The daft thing is, that whilst at dinner this evening, the Maitre d’ came over with a bottle from champagne for us, “with the compliments of the manager”.  We explained that we didn’t want to drink alcohol right now and perhaps he could chill it for us to enjoy in a couple of days time.  But thinking about it, perhaps we ought to have asked him to swap it for a few bottles of cold water!!

We’ll be fine tomorrow, because forewarned is forearmed and we’ll buy a couple of large bottles in town.  We might even stretch to a bottle of Inca Cola Winking smile 

 

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Such a fuss was silly, really, because this is a beautiful hotel set in idyllic surroundings.

 

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There’s a colourful library with stacks of books about Peru and the Incas.

 

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The restaurant is equally colourful!

 

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It has an interesting menu, too.

 

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But what’s keeping us both on tenterhooks is the state of my toothpaste.  Every tube and bottle has expanded almost to bursting point, but so far, thankfully, nothing has actually burst.  But I fear my toothpaste might blow at any minute.  Perhaps, tomorrow morning we’ll find  pale green spatter all over the bathroom walls?

In the meantime I’m playing safe and using a mini tube from the plane.  Much less potential damage from a 2 inch tube, I think.

What a marvellous day!

Focusing on food