I have a friend who just adores Peru. I never understood why. This was the day I began to have an inkling.
It started with our first glimpse of the Andes.
Immediately after touching down in Cusco, we hopped on our bus and headed for the Sacred Valley. But before we began rolling, we were introduced to Coca tea. Yes, coca – as in cocaine. But in its benign form, in a tea, it helps reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. Cusco is at 11,152′ above sea level, and over 9,000 feet is when altitude sickness can become a problem. We drank a lot of coca tea. Thankfully, it’s pretty tasty!
The scenery from Cusco to the valley was amazing.
We got our first looks at the terracing done by the Incas.
We went through village after village of dwellings made out of red adobe blocks. The majority of people make their own from the clay soil. I was pretty intrigued by the whole concept.
The driver let us know a few minutes before we arrived at our destination, and I was slightly concerned wondering what our accommodations were going to be. It certainly didn’t seem possible that there could be the type of upscale hotel Road Scholar normally housed us in located in an area like this.
Well, what a gem! Sonesta Posadas Del Inca, a former monastery, turned convent, and finally remodeled into an absolutely charming hotel was a happy surprise. Walk with me…
Our room was very comfortable, although the thick walls kept the chilly night air out so it was a little warm for my taste. But the atmosphere completely made up for it.
One side note here. It seems that throughout Peru, the tap water is undrinkable (at least for foreigners.) We were constantly reminded not to use the tap water even for brushing your teeth, and not to eat raw vegetables with skins, (and no lettuce at all!) because of the questionable water used to irrigate the crops. AND, no paper at all could be flushed down the toilets, so we had a lot to remember!
An instant positive was that vegetarian food was readily available, and delicious. I could almost literally LIVE on Peruvian potatoes.
Having lived in Mt. Shasta for 25 years, we thought the effects of the altitude on us would be diminished, but we did experience some. The 1st morning in the Sacred Valley I woke up with an awful headache. Our guide tested our oxygenation and I was at 92 percent, so pretty good, but there was definitely a difference that took a day to overcome.
Stayed tuned for our first day of adventures in the valley!