staying in the Navel of the World & hospital
05.04.2011 - 10.04.2011 8 °C
*older entries are in 'table of contents' button on right*
Well, we arrived into Cusco on the nightbus from Arequipa (the route of which deviated east to the main town next to Lake Titicaca, before heading northeast) around 8am, and got a transfer to our hotel, Saranga, on Av. Centenario about 2 blocks from Cuscos main street, and 5 blocks from the main plaza. I loved Cusco immediately. This passage, from 'the navel of the world', by Che Guevara sums it up just perfectly:
"The only word to sum up Cuzco adequately is evocative. An impalpable dust of other ages covers its streets, rising in clouds like a muddy lake when you disturb the bottom. But there are two or three different Cuzcos, or rather, two or three ways in which the city can be evoked: ... As the former nomads expanded Tawantinsuyu, the Incas fortified the centre of the lands they had conquered, the navel ofthe world - Cuzco. To defend this centre they built the massive Saqsayhuaman, which dominates the city from its heights, protecting the palaces and temples from the fury of the empire's enemies. This is the Cuzco whose plaintive voice is heard in the fortress destroyed by the stupidity of illiterate Spanish conquistadores, in the violated, ruined temples, in the looted palaces, in the brutalized indians. This Cuzco invites you to turn warrior and, club in hand, defend freedom and the life of the Inca. ... But there is another Cuzco which can be seen from above, displacing the ruined fortress: the Cuzco of red-tiled roofs, its gentle harmony broken by the cupola of a baroque church, the Cuzco seen in the narrow streets as you walk down, the native people in their traditional costumes, all the local colours. This Cuzco invites you to be a reluctant tourist, to glance at things superficially and enjoy yourself under the beauty of a leaden wintry sky. ... And yet there is another Cuzco, a vibrant city which bears witness to the formidable courage of the soldiers who conquered this region in the name of Spain, expressed in their monuments, the museums and libraries, in the decoration of its churches and in the distinctive features of the white leaders who still take pride in the conquest. This Cuzco invites you to don armour and, astride a sturdy powerful steed, cleave a path through the defenseless flesh of a flock of naked indians whose human wall crumbles and falls under the four hooves of the galloping beast. ... Each of these Cuzcos can be admired on its own, and we spent part of our stay looking at each of them"
A group of us walked through the beautiful, historic streets of the town to Jacks cafe (which serves good, comforting western food) located in interesting hilly winding cobblestone alleyways, just wanting to eat before we did anything. I knew i was getting very sick by this point but was determined to make the most of my time here in Cusco, id read alot about the history here and wanted to see alot of sites and museums etc. Guido told me after breakfast he would arrange for me to see a good doctor in town.
The foundations of most of the buildings and walls throughout Cusco are still Incan masonry built forever ago, that has withstood multiple terrible earthquakes over the years which have brought down the Spanish buildings above. We saw the Incan temple which was the capital main building of the whole Incan empire in south america and which was torn down by the Spanish Invaders and a church built in its place, again with the Incan foundations left at the bottom. There are a lot of Incan ruins just out of town, one of the most famous being Saqsayhuaman (pronounced 'sexy woman'), lots of museums, and historical buildings etc so after breakfast Guido walked us to an office on the main street which sold los Boletos Turistico del Cusco which is an entry ticket to bulk sites/places/buildings which works out alot cheaper than paying seperate everywhere. I bought one (for S/.130) in the hope of battling through my sickness and going to quite a few things today and the next day (us girls wanted to do a horse ride excursion through Saqsayhuaman).
Guido had called the doc for me so i had to go back to the hotel to meet him at 10am. He rocked up on a Harley, in leather and later turned out to be the best doctor ive ever been to... kind, informative etc. and also save my life. He examined me and diagnosed me with parasites and a bacteria, and gave me a drug (antibiotic) for each, and explained i will see some improvement after 48hrs of taking. He was very concerned with how long id had the symptoms for (weeks), and made me promise to keep him updated with phone calls etc, especially cos we were due to move off in 1.5 days to the next town on our route, and to do the Inca Trail. I met the gang and we went to the main plaza in town to meet Heather (from Ecuador travels) for lunch, who is staying here for a few weeks doing volunteer work at a remote school. We went to Jacks cafe again because it was so good. But unfortunately i had now, since seeing the doc, started a special diet which basically consisted of not being able to eat anything but rice potatoes or chicken. . Me and Ian set off down the alleyways to go to Museo Inka which we were both very excited about. There were about 23 rooms, 5000 artefacts, and Aymaras weaving beautiful traditional textiles in the courtyard.
But unfortunately, 20mins into the visit my diarrhea began again, but this time like nothing i had ever experienced in my life. It was a bit of a hilarious horror story, me running around to find them and then when i did the toilets at the museum were basically unusable because they were so disgusting . . . they had shit all over the seats and everything, it was absolute hell, i had to go standing up. And each time i thought i was done and tried to leave the museum i would have to run back to the loo. hahaha. I did this about 4 times and then finally somehow i managed to get a taxi back to the hotel, where i was stuck on the toilet all the rest of that day, and night, and all the next day and night. Tara and Guido brought me supplies and the rest of the gang visited me. I was very weak now and starting to worry. The day after those days i called the doc to tell him ive had no improvement and how we were due to move on at midday to next town and that there's no way i can do the Inca Trail hike (which he had already told me Im too weak and sick to do). He sent a lab chick to my room to collect blood and other samples (yes, poop!) and he came round an hour later with the results.
The results showed i had two strains of Salmonella poisoning (one of them Typhoid fever), parasites, and bacteria. !!! He was very worried. And even more worried by the fact that i had had the infections for so long, he was telling me i could get a perforated bowel etc. He gave me a whole new bunch of medicines and told me to go to the next town so i would have Guido to look after me, but to call the doc immediately if i had any of the three things/symptoms he then listed to me, and if so he would call an ambulance to bring me to Cusco hospital. So at midday we set off for the next town Ollaytantambo which is an hour and a half bus journey away. I was pretty rough throughout the journey and then low and behold just a few kilometres out of arriving at Ollaytantambo i get one of the things off the doctors warning list and become quite weak and sick and in a bit of a bad state. And so the guys called the doc, and then 10mins later I am whisked away all the way back to Cusco hospital in an ambulance. Chris and Bec, the sweethearts, came with me so i wasnt alone, which i really appreciated. Not that i remember much of the journey, as i was pretty out of it. They made sure i was settled in ok in my room at the hospital, which was alot better standard/cleanliness than i had been imagining, and then they left back to Ollaytantambo after calling my parents in Oz, as they needed to get organised for their Inca Trail hike starting the next morning. On top of feeling like shit, i was then feeling like extra shit as I would be missing this fantastic part of the journey that i had been looking forward to so much. I dont know if ive ever felt as weak as i did at this point. Little did i know, it would eventually get worse.
I spent three days and nights in the hospital, on the drip, the first day or so with nothing by mouth but then eventuallly some food (jelly and soup) by the last day. Only the doctor spoke English, so my crap Spanish entertained the nurses. Guido sent a friend to come visit me once, as i was on my own. Then on the sunday morning after convincing myself and the doctor that i was well enough (i totally was not) to be discharged in time to go and meet the group at Machu Picchu (i couldnt miss Machu Picchu!!!), Guido picked me up and we headed off, me still very weak and wobbly. I had to do this. You cant come all the way to Peru and not go to Machu Picchu.
p.s. id just like to apologize for alot of my blog being about poop. but unfortunately thats just what happened. embrace the poop tales.