It's mate de cocoa time here in Curahuasi. Word on the street is that the cocoa tea, made from the cocoa grown in this region, is a cure all for altitude sickness that comes along with life at 10,000 feet. Given that I'm prone to just about every 'worst case scenario,' the altitude has--not surprisingly-- flattened me. Thankfully today, Tuesday, I am past the worst of it.
A bit of background: Friday we made the 3-hour stomach-twisting drive back to Cusco for a weekend jaunt. The ruins at Quorikancha and Sachsaywoman topped our must-see list. Unfortunatlely the ruins were closed due to the Easter holiday, but Cusco afforded plenty more to see during our overnight excursion.
First stop: Coffee at the cafe on the Plasa del Armas. Well caffienated, Miguel, Corissa (a doc from Los Angeles) and I proceeded to check out the Inka Museum, which boasted the "best Inkan artifacts in the city." If you call a color copy of of a few arrowheads pasted up on the wall (with a bit of history thrown in here and there), then I guess this would be your cup of cocoa tea. Perhaps something was lost in translation?
There was a pretty cool interactive floor display where the bricks started shifting under foot. Keeping my balance was a real challenge! Strangely enough, I seemed to be the only one in the museo playing this fun game. Next, the text in the displays started replicating, then blurring into one big, dizzying mish mash of letters and numbers. An ancient Inkan magic trick, maybe?
Miguel and Corrisa began exchanging worried looks, and I latched on to Miguel like a wobbly bambino learning how to walk. I'm certain I looked like an inebriated American who'd had too much Chica.
The unquenchable thirst for agua came next. I downed bottle after bottle after bottle of water, so much so that my main concern every twenty minutos became finding el bano. It was ridiculous. Seriously, I probably drank a trough of water and still that was not enough.
Somewhere in between the intense hydration and the pit stops, we made it to the Museo de Pre-Columbino arte. From what I recall of this museum, it housed some pretty cool Inkan treasures, including lots of ceramic pottery. That's all I got.
One parade later- which actually was a very somber mourning procession complete with Jesus in a glass coffin and a huge plastic icon of the Mother Mary (it was Good Friday) , we found a hostel ($8 a night- score!) and a traditional Peruvian meal (l had a huge appetite, whereas most lose it with the sickness). We returned to our hostel to find we had no running water (hence- you get what you pay for), but a bed seemingly bug-free.
Being in the good graces of two whip-smart physicians, the prognosis for my condition was that I was having a reaction to the altitude patch I'd slapped on a few days prior to the trip, and the altitude itself. Thus, I stripped off the patch and Saturday I was feeling some better, save for the naseua. My vision was slowly coming into focus, and I could walk a straight line.
Saturday was to be a shopping day, as Dr. Alex was coming into Cusco for his once-a-month grocery trip. In our village of Curahuasi, you can't find things like peanut butter, tomato sauce and pasta, butter, cheese or dairy products (that are safe to eat, at least) and more. We stocked up on cooking essentials and began the trek out of town in Alex's road-beaten Toyota. Sidenote- having a car in Curahuasi is a HUGE blessing for the missionaries to be able to make trips to the grocery in Cusco, the post office in Abancuy, the airports in Lima and Cusco and much more.
A huge plume of smoke coming from the hood of Alex's car put the cabash on the return trip. We piled out of the car and discovered that a cap for something important was missing. Huge problem at 3 p.m. on Saturday before Easter in Cusco. Long story short, Alex had a friend who had a friend who was a mechanic, who by the grace of God actually came out to meet us on the road, fixed the car, and got us on our way so that we made it through the mountains as night was falling.
Back home in the valley, I'm loving life at a lower altitude. Miguel and I are back to work in the hospital, and only one scorpion siting thus far. Muchas amore to all!
photo captions: l-r: typical sites in the village- Quetchua woman with harvest, Mike helps locals take water up the mountain, bathtime for these ninos