My first time to South America. I arrived in Lima at 1am on a Saturday night delirious from travel albeit excited about future adventures. I did not stay in a great part of town but for a private room and bathroom for $15 a night where I only needed to rest my head for 12 hours, it was plenty suitable. My time in Lima was brief but impactful as I was definitely the only ‘gringo’ walking around these parts. The next afternoon I made my way to Cuzco the city with a population of 500,000 and an elevation of 11,150ft. Having recently visited Crested Butte, with an elevation of almost 9,000ft, I assumed that I would not have much of a problem adjusting. I drank plenty of water but still found myself feeling horribly sick the second night. I had started my volunteer program this day so it was a full day of orientation and learning how to teach a class of locals how to speak English. I got half way through the class before I needed to go to bed, luckily I was co-teaching at this point and no one was depending on me. Altitude sickness, for me, I can only describe as a general terrible feeling, everything hurts and feels awful. My best piece of advice is to drink a ton of water, sleep a lot, and give yourself a few days before planning anything.
The people here are kind and small and the city itself is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. With churches dating back to the 1600s, plazas filled with flowers, more alpaca than anyone could ever need in a lifetime, & all of it surrounded by mountains covered in little homes that twinkle at night.