Wake up at 0200. Airport pick-up at 0300. Check-in and pay domestic airport tax of $6 each by 0440. Board Taca flight #007 (Airbus A320 like the one that went swimming in the Hudson River about a month ago) at 0540. Land in Cuzco (10976’ above sea level) a little after 0800 and transfer to the hotel. We are given a cup of mate de coca (coca tea--yes, the same stuff that cocaine is made from) which is supposed to help in warding off altitude sickness. We jumped straight from sea level to nearly 11000’ so acclimatization was not possible. We have been taking acetazolamide (Diamox) and have felt the side effects of tingling fingers and toes; Ibuprofen helped calm down the dull headaches. It was only 0900 and we felt we had already put in a hard days labor; but, we had a four tour of Cuzco and its environs in the afternoon so no time to rest and make up for the sleep we had lost the previous night.
Our excellent guide said that he was 75-80% pure Inca and he had the features to prove it. He communicated his philosophy of life and religion with sincerity; it would be fun to sit down to a meal and discuss “things” with him. After a tour of La Catedral with its painting of The Last Supper featuring roast cuy (guinea pig--an Inca specialty appearing on almost every menu in town) and the black crucifix, Adriel took us on an itinerary of tongue twisting places: Qorikancha, Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay.
It was a long day and we finished it off with pizza at Chez Maggy just down the street from the hotel.