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Altitude Sickness=Change of Plans

Puno, Peru


Our adventure just keeps getting more and more exciting. Saturday night, Amy, Melisa, and I took a night bus to Puno, the hub of activity for Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable mountainous lake in the world, as well as the largest lake in South America...it is over 170 km in length, 60 km wide, and is shared between Peru and Bolivia. There are islands out on the lake where native people live much the same way they did 2,000 years ago. There are also island known as floating islands...they are completely manmade from thousands of reeds piled up on top of one another. Amy, Melissa, and I were signed up for a trip to see/stay the night on one of these islands. Unfortunately, Puno´s elevation is 3830 meters, or about 12,566 feet, meaning that those who are susceptible to altitude sickness are especially badly off up here. Poor Amy seems to be one of these people. When we arrived, she felt okay, but later in the afternoon we went on a tour of Sillustani (i´ll get to that in a minute) and she began feeling extremely nauseous. This morning, the morning we were supposed to wake up and tour the islands, she can´t even get out of bed. Because altitude sickness can potentially be serious, Melisa and I canceled the island tour and we are going to head to Arequipa today, a couple days early...it is significantly lower in elevation, so Amy should feel better almost immediately. Who knew that simply existing in some places could be so difficult?

At least we got to see Sillustani before leaving Puno. Sillustani is a group of crumbling Incan and pre-Incan funerary towers. These groups of people used to bury important people in large towers...they would drop mummies of important figures in the top (along with several unlucky servants) and then cover the mummies with small rocks and clay. They would also fill the tombs with food and the dead´s possessions so that the dead would have food, etc. in their next life, and the Incas would replenish this food once a year or so. The Incans made these towers by lugging these giant, perfectly rectangular rocks up wooden ramps...it must have taken years to build one. Also, the got the rocks to be perfectly rectangular by drilling a hole into the rocks with a hand drill, inserting a piece of wood into the hole, and getting the wood wet so it would expand. Once it expanded, the wood would create perfect cracks in the rocks, helping the Incas to form perfect building bricks. Cool huh? Anyhoo, I´m going to get back to my sick girlfriend now. More later.

permalink written by  kfox on July 26, 2010 from Puno, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru Adventure!
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