RTW 2011: Day 3

Today we flew to Cusco from Lima. We arrived at our hotel around noon, and rested until our city tour at 1:30 pm. We were surprised at how tired we felt on arriving in Cusco and at the amount of work it took to climb the stairs at 11,152 feet above sea level. We both lay down for a little while, but then it was time for our tour. I was feeling pretty good, but Josh felt wiped out by the altitude.

We walked to the main square in the town and met up with a larger group to go on a tour of three important sites. The first was a church, or actually three connected churches in the main square of Cusco. As the woman started the tour, we walked into the church and sat in several rows of the cathedral, and I started to feel really winded. I felt a little bit dizzy and my stomach felt strange. I thought I might either pass out or throw up, and I wasn’t sure which would win.

When our group got up to go into the next area, I told Josh that I thought I was going to pass out, and as I stumbled towards the next church’s pews, I saw my vision start to fade around the edges to black. Darkness was closing in on me quickly, so I sat down with my head between my knees.

There were some helpful people at the church that had oxygen tanks. They hooked up a mask and gave me some oxygen, and they rubbed rubbing alcohol on my forehead and gave me an alcohol soaked cotton swab to hold under my nose like smelling salts.

I sat there for quite a while, trying to get enough oxygen back into my system. Our tour guide tried to make us come along as the group was leaving the church. She tried to tell us about the great importance of the next sites that we were going to go see, but I didn’t even know if I could make it to the door of the church. Needless to say, we told them to go ahead as I tried to recover. The ladies at the church gave me some tea and also an altitude sickness pill. I felt a little better, so Josh and I left the church and went into the first restaurant we came to for something to eat.

After having a light lunch of soup, I was feeling much better. Better enough to walk the 4 blocks back to our hotel, climb the four stories to our room and collapse onto the bed. Josh and I both went to sleep until dinner time, when we went out again and found some dinner. Then we stopped in a few of the shops and went back to the hotel again.