I swear I did what I was supposed to do: Took anti-altitude sickness pills and exercised diligently on the treadmill prior to arriving in the 12,000 foot high city of Cusco. As recommended, I took it nice and slow (which is not my style, mind you) prior to striking out on the hilly streets. I drank lots of water and chewed the cocoa leaves. I arrived on January 4 and by January 10, much to my surprise and disappointment, I was in the SOS Cusco Medical Center under the care of Dr. Grover Quispe Orihuela.
Thank God my travel buddy Maren forced me to see a doctor because I was quite sick with altitude sickness and bronchitis, a hefty combination if you want to breathe. And live.
The doctor spoke excellent English and, while the nurses did not, their round the clock care was beyond anything I have ever experienced in the good ol’ USA. Oxygen, antibiotics, and a nebulizer for 4 days brought me back to life, at least enough to exit Peru and head back to NJ. The doctor, who was competent, caring and extremely handsome, even sent me to my apartment on oxygen with an aide to help me pack to go home. I was originally scheduled to stay till January 22 but left on the 16th. Never made it to Macchu Pichu nor the Sacred Valley. Never got to hike up 14,000 feet to villages with Maren and explore, photograph and write about the Inca residents. Never got to participate in sacred rituals with shamans.
But I took it as part of the “adventure” rather than feeling sorry for myself. I even had Roku thanks to Maren’s brilliance in bringing it to Peru. I got to watch Netflix and sleep a lot. A real lot.
So here are a few tips from my experience:
Be safe my Blog Friends….happy trails till we meet again in the Blogoshere! And may The Force be with you!
Miriam Seiden is a cultural explorer who loves to write about her living bridges around the world.