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Full Circle

Day 188: Cuzco

Michael Palin - Full CircleThough my body has had over a week now to create the extra red corpuscles it requires to adapt itself to the reduced oxygen at this altitude, I still find that touching my toes or tying my shoelaces leaves me gasping. I'm not the only one. The hotel lobby is full of inelegant westerners with sturdy white legs and droopy knapsacks explaining to their guides that 'My wife is not well. She cannot come with us today.'

The good news is that tomorrow we start to move on up the valley that leads to Machu Picchu and eventually down through the mountains and into the jungle, where doubtless far worse things than altitude sickness lurk. We shall be in open boats for more than a week, and even if it doesn't rain there are potentially dangerous rapids to negotiate, so much of today is spent packing all I shall need into a waterproof bag and wrapping everything else in black plastic.

Celebrate our last night in Cuzco at an excellent restaurant run by a Japanese family. It's Clem's birthday so a cake is prepared. Unfortunately he has put his back out - not a good present.

Back to the hotel for an early night before an early start. In the lobby a Japanese man sits on one of the plush red sofas with a mask over his face and a five foot high oxygen cylinder beside him. His travel bag reads 'Ultimate Andes'.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 188
  • Country/sea: Peru
  • Place: Cuzco
  • Book page no: 252

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