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3. It Was Albert Fujimori

Cusco where the air is very thin

View Mucho Machu on paulej4's travel map.

Cusco, Peru
Friday, December 16, 2016
I got a chance to check the web: The Asian President of Peru that I was remembering was Alberto Fujimori, 1990-2000. And, now reminded, I remember why I remember him. He was arrested and tried for corruption. He fled the country to return to his native Japan and they refused to extradite him back to Peru to face the charges. It's a long story; if you're interested, Google him.

I didn't notice anything regarding the altitude when I stepped off our aircraft. I can breathe easily and I am having no symptoms of Altitude Sickness. Here is a bit of quick AS research information:

WebMD says about Altitude Sickness: “occurs when you cannot get enough oxygen from the air at high altitudes. This causes symptoms such as headache, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. It happens most often when people who are not used to high altitudes go quickly from lower altitudes to 8000 feet or higher.” Other sources cite more symptoms including nausea, shortness of breath, inability to exercise, vomiting and reduced coordination.I live in Kansas City, MO, where the altitude is 910 feet above sea level. I spend a good bit of time in Vero Beach, FL, where the altitude is officially listed as 13 feet above sea level. On this day, I flew from Kansas City (910 feet) to Charlotte, NC (751 feet) to Miami, FL, (6 feet) to Lima, Peru (5,080 feet) to Cusco, Peru, (10,800 feet). And, yes, of course, the flights themselves were at altitudes over 35,000 feet. But, inside the aircraft I was in a pressurized environment where airlines-generally--adjust pressurization gradually from the altitude of the airport of origin to no more than the equivalent of 6,000 feet and then back down to the airport of destination.

All of that said, the thing to remember is this: when you land at Cusco, Peru, at the end of a very long day and night of continuous flying, the average in-flight aircraft pressure of 6,000 feet above sea level is “thick” compared to what you feel when they open the door at 10,800 feet here. There is a pronounced lack of oxygen in the air and many, if not most, people will experience altitude sickness. I do not want to overstate the situation here: mountaineers don’t consider themselves to be in “very high altitude” until they ascend to 11,500 feet. But, still; 10,800 feet is high. I’ve been this high before many times, often when skiing at the summit of Vail Mountain in Colorado which is 11,570 feet. But, in that situation, I ascended very gradually in an automobile through Denver (5,280 feet) to Vail town (8,120 feet), stopping along the way.

For this reason, many travel guides recommend that tourists break their journey in Lima to acclimate. Or, from Lima, to bypass Cusco and travel directly to Machu Picchu where the elevation is 7,972 feet above sea level. I decide to ignore that advice. I fly on LAN Chile Airlines from Miami to Lima and LAN Peru Airlines from Lima to Cusco. I stay at the Cusco JW Marriott Hotel where “Guests can request additional oxygen in their rooms or suites to counter Cusco's very high altitude.” The fine folks from Adios Travel (I booked my ground arrangements through them) are right on hand to greet me as I leave the baggage claim area at Cusco Airport. I am ushered into a tiny Toyota Success Taxi Cab and am whisked to my hotel. I say whisked but that is a bit of an exaggeration. This is a third world city and traffic is intense. It takes twenty minutes or so to get to the JWM. large_527fc690-301a-11ea-a811-2f5309009da5.jpglarge_527147a0-301a-11ea-a39a-bfe72fa1d1cd.jpglarge_526c8cb0-301a-11ea-beda-a9b806d6f5ce.jpglarge_52518aa0-301a-11ea-8d77-0fc685607c1f.jpg

The hotel is not what I expected. It is quite nice but it is a low rise and the structure is old with some history to tell. I am invited to attend the 16:00 hotel tour which lasts about a half-hour. Sounds like a good idea.

But first, I need a shower. My room (on Marriott points) is great; more on that later. I want to clean up, get a bite to eat, and see a bit of the historic old town of Cusco, Peru, right now.

Posted by paulej4 16:17 Archived in Peru

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