A painful ride. And an amazing ride.

Mountain Sickness. Again

As I said I decided to not leave the bus in Ica but to keep heading for Cuzco. I thought it would take me 15 hours and that I had covered 4-5 hours at the moment of deciding, leaving me another 10 hours in the bus. Piece of cake for this world traveler, especially because the buses are luxurious and have wifi. I mean: 2 hours of Facebook and 8 hours of sleep? Perfect! Sounds like weekend! What I didn’t know was that the ride from Lima to Cuzco is not 15 but 21 hours. What I also did not immediately realize is that Cuzco is at 3400 meters. Sleeping at altitude higher than 2500 meters gives the risk of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and I seem to be sensitive to that. Not to mention all the winding it takes before one has finally reached a destination that high.

Surely I developed a headache around 10 o’clock in the morning. After my adventure in Ladakh I know what this means: my brains are starting to swell. It hurts like hell. On top of that I am getting nauseous and dizzy. Meanwhile the bus keeps climbing and climbing and we have hours more to go. I hate myself for making the decision to go to Cuzco.

Riding the wave of not-knowing

Machu Picchu

I decided to make a very unconventional move. I decided to ask the higher powers for help. Now is my connection with the higher powers not extremely clear. I feel tested and challenged over and over again. Often I feel that I am sent the hard way just to see if I will make it. So I asked people around me who have a clearer connection with ‘upstairs’ to plea for my case. I realized how fortunate I am to be able to select 10 exceptional persons from my address book. Writing the email alone was already both humbling and empowering. It is the strength of surrender; admitting I can’t do it alone gives a sense of strength paradoxically. Within hours I received a couple of heartfelt responses that brought tears to my eyes. Then I received a few emails from New York and Hong Kong that gave me the idea that I was behind the wheel again. Things started moving.

Looking under the surface


The highlight of the day was when my guide in Chan Chan told be about the beliefs and superstitions that are still alive today. The entrance of the ruins consists a quadrant of small spaces: a ticket office, a room with information and some aerial pictures, a men’s room and a ladies room and a couple of souvenir shops. Turns out that one owner of a souvenir shop went to a shaman after having no clients for a month. The shaman told him that his competitor was using witchcraft and that he could break the spell for a certain amount of money. He thinks it is working but has to go back every month for an ‘update’ of his magic protection. The other shop owner is not so much into superstition. The guide told me they are not friends and always gossiping about each other. There is maybe 1,5 meters between their doors and they sell exactly the same merchandise to exactly the same customers. But since half a year they have a new, common enemy. A lady on the other side of the ‘complex’ (5 meters away) opened up a shop too, with souvenirs and cold drinks. Every morning she perfumes her part of the sidewalk, confirming the ideas of the older man that she is using witchcraft.

Swinging The Bat With My Eyes Closed

First Peruvian sunset, Huanchaco

I am in Peru! Last night we crossed the border with Ecuador. It is amazing how different this country is. Although I only walked around for half an hour twice today, I had soup in Piriu and took the bus to Chiclayo where I had a sandwich before I jumped in the next bus to Trujillo in which I am now, the atmosphere, the climate and the surroundings are completely different. The food is better, it looks very deserty outside (Ecuador was very mountainy), traffic is louder and more impatient and it is hotter.

I feel quite fit and rested. I wonder how many hours I was effectively asleep. When I sleep in a bus or a plane I often have the feeling that I am never really asleep because of the physical discomfort. Trying to sleep semi-upright screws up the blood circulation; my hands and feet start to hurt after a while and not much that I can do about it.