14 October 2010
I’m awake. Not woken by alarms or monkeys tugging mosquito nets but merely by the overwhelming noise coming from the forest. A cacophony of birds, monkeys, insects and, well, anything else that can produce sound is the closest I can get to when describing the noise coming in from the open wall of the room.
I have my final cold shower of the trip (they didn’t have hot water at the lodge) and head off to breakfast to meet up with the rest of the group. Rodolfo joins us and tells us he won’t be joining us for the journey back to Puerto Maldonado. We say our goodbyes to him. He really was a fantastic guide during our stay and his knowledge on the area was impressive (I do know it’s his job and all, but I was still impressed!)
So with goodbyes said, we left the lodge and did the fifteen minute walk through the forest to where our lancha’s were moored for the last time. I really wouldn’t have minded staying there for one more night or the rest of the trip to be honest, however, I only had 12 days, I had to try and cram in as much as possible.
We got back to the Rainforest Expeditions offices where I said my own goodbyes to the rest of the group, as I was once again in a race against time to buy another flight from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco and this had to be done in the airline office in town. I walk a couple of hundred meters until I get to the main road and hail a mototaxi.
We arrive at the airline office only to find it filled with people. Right, I need to beg people to let me go ahead of them otherwise I won’t find a flight out from Puerto Maldonado today. I deploy my South African charm in my quasi Spanish in the hopes people won’t get mad. IT WORKS! Four people let me go ahead of them. I tell the person behind the desk my ticketing needs and she helps me get on the flight I need to be on. I hand over my debit card. DECLINED! Not this again! Right, I ask her where the closest ATM is. She directs me but warns to me to hussle as there is very little time left to buy that ticket.
I briskly walk in the clammy Amazon air to the closest ATM and attempt to withdraw money and wait for the sweet ‘tak-tak-tak-tak’ sound from the machine, which does come to my relief. With a wad of cash in my wallet I’m once again briskly walking (I wasn’t seriously going to run) back to the airline office and buy my ticket to Cusco.
I buy my ticket and catch a mototaxi to the airport where I find the group I’d come in with waiting for their flights. While waiting for our flights I started chatting to Armando, the guide who had accompanied the group throughout their stay. I was telling him that I didn’t really know what I was going to do once I got to Cusco and he kindly offered to help me. He told me to think about what I wanted to do and then to give him a call when I was in Cusco so he could help me out.
We all boarded our flight and headed to Cusco (though most of the folks on the flight were going to Lima), where I got off the plane (at around 1pm) and headed outside to find a taxi to take to the central plaza, the omnipresent Plaza de las Armas (Most of the cities and towns’ central plaza is called that). It started to lightly drizzle which left me slightly worried as I really didn’t want to spend time in a city where it was constantly raining. Arriving at the plaza, I found the road where my hostel was located. An uphill road. Great.
Remember this is Cusco, which sits pretty breathlessly at an altitude of 3310m. Most people who visit the Andes struggle with the altitude and I was assuming I would be no different. So I slowly walked up the hill until I got to the top of the hill where my hostel, the Walkon Inn, was perched on. I was completely out of breath and struggling to find air. I got to reception and in between breaths asked for a bed in a dorm. The lady at reception offered me a coca tea which I accepted (as apparently it helps with the altitude sickness).
With a bed booked, I had my first hot shower in Peru and shaved. I asked the lady at reception what to do avoid bad altitude sickness and she simply told me not to exert myself for the rest of the day; to avoid drinking a lot of water; and finally to eat heavy food. Done. I was going to follow that advice!
The rest of the day I spent checking up on emails; chatting to other folks in the hostel; going down into the plaza for a light dinner, where I saw another patron suffering from altitude sickness faint and then vomit. I was definitely going to take it easy after seeing that! I stopped at the chemist on my way back to the hostel to get some pills for headaches and stomach aches (symptoms of altitude sickness).
I went back to the hostel and just chilled out; read my book and started feeling a bit queezy so just retired for the day.