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Up, Up and Out – Altitude Sickness Descends

From Nazca we decided to take a short cut to get up to the Andes and Cusco. We’ve heard there may be helicopter rides going into Machu Picchu & while the direct road from Nazca is cut, there is an alternative to going too far south to Arequipa and up, and that is to go the back roads via the Colca Canyon. It has the additional bonus of being able to spot some condor – perhaps.

The food for breakfast is pretty non-existent & it’s a long hard ride on gravel backroads and tracks so we’re keen to get into it. We’re up to 4,300 metres before we get to Colcha at 3,800 – about the same as Mt Cook. There they are – the birds are soaring – it’s been worth the hard ride. Another 80 kms on to our stop for the night at Chivaly – at 3,650m.

Suddenly Jo and I are both crook– really crook. Headaches so bad you can’t get your head off the pillow. She has blue lips like something out of Avatar and we’re in trouble – oxygen deficiency, from altitude sickness. The exerting ride & a rise of 4,000m has done us in. Doc arrives with oxygen tanks and gives us both big jabs of Dexamethasone in the rear – no small prick this – but a real humdinger, a well sized syringe full of it ensuring some pain for 30 minutes. Jo’s sister Pat proved the most wonderful high altitude nurse and that was the highlight of the evening, having my rear rubbed by her to disperse the pain.

Next day we’re okay – full of drugs but okay. Time to ride on toward Cusco. How dumb forgetting about AS when we made that call to take the shortcut! Our photos of the condors & colca canyon while those of the beautiful country and folk of the high pampas around Cusco are here.

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