Tag Archives: Coca

Thoughts on Peru

It's a fun bus ride to Machu Piccu!
It’s a fun bus ride to Machu Piccu!

We have never done this before so you could say this was the first of many firsts.  Our latest trip took us to amazing Peru and its many sites for our first time.  But it was also the first time we didn’t plan the entire trip and relied on a travel company to handle the logistics.

Because it builds anticipation, planning trips is entertainment for Wooly and it’s much better than English lesson planning for the cadets at the academy.  Planning helps the two of us get a feel for a place before we arrive and gives us an idea of how long we want to stay at each location.  And there’s that ‘being in control’ thing tossed into the mix.

By the end of the trip we were able to say we were glad we used Tucanoperu.com to guide us on our trip.  It was great to arrive at airports and see a guide holding a sign with our name on it waiting to take us to our hotel.  Every day our guides were on-time and ready to take us on another day of discovery.  They were very knowledgeable about the places we visited and we learned much more than if we did it on our own.  We will definitely consider using a tour company in the future.  When choosing a company we recommend staying with a single language tour.

Every journey must have a beginning and our 17 day adventure started in Lima.  After Lima we ascended into higher elevation and thinner air of Arequipa.  At 2,335 meters (7,661 feet) Arequipa would be one of the lower elevations we would encounter.  The rest of the itinerary was Colca Canyon at 3,400 m (11,155 ft.), Puno 3811 m (12,504 ft.), Cusco 3,399 m (11,152 ft.), the Sacred Valley 2,800 m (9,186 ft.) and finally Machu Piccu 2,300 m (7,546 ft.).  Along the way we ascended a mountain pass that took us to 4,350 m (14,275 ft.).  If you have either breathing or heart issues you should check with your physician before you try a trip like this.

Fortunately we have never suffered from altitude sickness.  But is you do, homeopathic remedies are abundant in Peru.  Coca leaves are part of every hotel’s morning breakfast buffet and coca tea is served everywhere (just be careful about the water).  In addition to coca there are pills that may help.  For the uninitiated, coca leaves taste like alfalfa.  And no, you won’t get high by chewing coca leaves or drinking the tea.  Cocaine is a refined product from the reduction of a massive amount of leaves in rusty metal barrels filled with gasoline which eventually makes a paste.  Then the paste is further refined with sulfuric and hydrochloric acids.  Yum, Yum.  Think about that the next time you’re tempted to blow a line up your nose.  Okay, enough geekiness for today.

We were glad we started at high elevation and ended up lower.  This allowed us time to acclimate to thinner air by the time we got to Machu Piccu.  Once there we were able to take a hike without as much huffing and puffing as some of the other tourists.  This was a blessing because Machu Piccu was definitely the highlight of the trip.  Save it for last on your trip – you’ll be glad you did.