Peru, darling, Peru.

Trip Start Mar 12, 2012
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Trip End Jul 10, 2012


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Monday, May 21, 2012

Before flying to Peru, I had started worrying that I would get altitude sickness. This was mainly due to the fact that I was flying straight to Cuzco, instead of going gradually by bus. The problem with Cuzco is that it's 3400 metres above sea level, which is pretty high up, and lots of people get ill going there, as they aren't used to the altitude. And I was convinced I would be one of them! But before I knew it, I was on my domestic flight to Cuzco. And then we had landed, and I still felt fine. Phew! My hostel were supposed to have sent a taxi to pick me up, but there was no one waiting for me. So after hanging around in the rain for an hour to see if the taxi would show up, I had to pay an extortionate amount to get another taxi to my hostel. Once I got there, I started to feel the effects of the pressure, and started getting quite a bad headache. Luckily I got talking to a Canadian girl who told me to have some coca tea. Coca tea is made from the leaves of the cocaine plant, but it's perfectly legal, and not druggy in any way, and is what the locals use to treat altitude sickness. Thankfully, the hostel provide it free 24/7, so I had a cup, and immediately my headache went away, and I never got ill from the altitude after that! Magic!

That evening I planned to stay one more day in Cuzco just to get myself used to the altitude before starting my 3 day Inca Jungle Machu Picchu Trek that I had booked. So I had a chilled start the next day, just walking round the streets near the hostel, before going on a horse ride in the afternoon. Once I found out the hostel offered a ride, I couldn't resist! So much for taking it easy! I was picked up from the hostel along with a Scottish guy by our guide, before going to meet the horses. The Scottish guy thoroughly annoyed me as he wouldn't stop asking our guide where to go to find the local girls. Ugh, men. Anyway, we arrived and met the rest of our group, 4 female travel agents on a work trip, and our other guide. None of the others had ridden before, so they got them on their horses first. All theirs seemed very quiet and docile. I told the guide I was experienced, and once everyone else was mounted, he disappeared. Then he suddenly galloped up on this big bay gelding, who was stunning, but I could tell was a good horse, if that makes any sense. The guide jumped down, handed me the reins and said 'This one's yours.' I looked up at this gorgeous horse, and thought, I don't know if I'm good enough to ride him! But the guide said I'd be fine, so up I jumped. My horse's name was Sol, and he was a pure Paso Fino, or Peruvian Paso. They have a special extra gait, which is like a smooth gliding trot, which was interesting to experience! Anyway, we set off, and after riding down a road, went steeply uphill through thick forest, till we got onto the hilltops, and could look down over Cuzco. We were at an altitude of roughly 3900 metres.

We rode though some stunning scenery, and then stopped for a snack, and to walk down to this cool cave, with some amazing pink coloured rock. We were even kept company by this funny looking little dog with buck teeth. Then we slowly made our way back, with me having a couple of canters on the way. I was riding with our guide, Havierre, who was riding a horse called Super. It was called Super because whenever Havierre made a certain noise, it would spring forward and go extremely fast. Havierre and I were riding along, when he asked me if I wanted to go a bit faster. I said yes of course (I love going fast). So we waited for the others to go ahead, then lined Sol and Super up, and had a race! We galloped our horses flat out against each other, it was so much fun! Havierre and Super beat me and Sol, but they had a head start! I wasn't far behind though. After that we rode to the Temple of the Moon, with me and Sol leading the way. That gave me a bit of time to try out his extra gait. Then we had to say goodbye to the horses, and I was sad to leave Sol, he was such a good horse. We briefly saw the temple, before having to make our way back to Cuzco as the sun was setting. We got an excellent view of Cuzco on the way back too. That evening we were briefed for our trek the next day, and I got an early night as we had to be ready to go by 6am! 
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