Altitude Sickness

Silvio told me if I slept with my head downhill I would wake up with a headache. I used the pillow to make up the difference in the slope, and I think the headache I woke up with has more to do with altitude. We slept at four thousand metres and then drove even higher, finally peaking out at four thousand and six hundred metres. Even now, that we are in Puno, we are at thirty-eight hundred metres. My headache persists, but I am taking it easy and not walking too much or too fast.

Most of today, Silvio drove the switchbacks and gained or lost altitude. We stopped at a hot spring in a cave which was beside the road because Silvio wanted to try out his drone. I walked along the edge of the cave taking pictures, some of the hot spring geyser, some of birds which lived along the cave edge, and then, as I was taking a picture of a rabbit, I watched it jump across and road and realized it wasn’t a rabbit at all. It was something more similar to a guinea pig or some other rodent that a Canadian might have as a pet such as a chinchilla. I got some great photos of it as I followed the cave openings from above until I realized I had gone far enough and returned to the truck to sit around. Silvio was just untangling the drone software when I returned, so I relaxed while he chatted with a family of locals from Puno who work in tourism. They took pictures with him and when he brought them back to the truck, they took photos of me too.

They were super nice, although we had no language in common. That was the similar situation for me with the old ladies Silvio parked beside in a small pueblo near Puno. They were super sweet, and offered him a coke—not to be confused with coca leaves—and he bought some alpaca hats from them for five dollars each. They were excited to meet me, and encouraged me to eat coca leaves with Silvio to help with my altitude sickness, but that is not really me. I’m not very interested in drugs, natural or other.

Silvio bought a bag of coca leaves from them, and he is making a tea which he hopes will get him beyond the altitude sickness. We parked in a parking lot in Puno near the very touristy port. I went to check out the shops and especially see the boat made from reeds which resembles the ones the ancient Egyptians made—which was made famous by Thor Heyderal’s Ra Expedition. Once I did a quick stroll about the area, Silvio went and I worked on writing this.

Puno is a bit famous because it is where the Peruvian government decided to send their people once they emptied their prisons. We weren`t in town long enough to realize whether this had had a lasting effect on the culture. As it was, it seemed like a typical city which served a large area, huge markets, heavy loud traffic, many buses, and thousands of people in the streets.

Leaving town was a bit painful, since traffic was heavy, there are no street lights, and no one obeys any rule beyond me first. We finally got out of town, and then Silvio drove until nearly dark when I took over, much like last night. I drove until I was too tired. We should have pulled over long since, but instead we kept on to Cusco where we are now parked in a parking lot the tour guy Jorge Saul has the use of. Supposedly we are safe enough for the night, and tomorrow we will move to a better and more secure lot. The drunks who were partying here left and now I am cooking tofu and veggies and we are getting ready to crash.

About Barry Pomeroy

I had an English teacher in high school many years ago who talked about writing as something that people do, rather than something that died with Shakespeare. I began writing soon after, maudlin poetry followed by short prose pieces, but finally, after years of academic training, I learned something about the magic of the manipulated word.
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