Archive for October 2008

Booking International Air Travel: Bad

October 24, 2008 - 2:42 pm No Comments

Booking the rest of my Thailand itinerary has been a major pain in the ass. While booking flights in the US is relatively painless and efficient, pricing booking a complicated international itinerary is another thing altogether. There are a million sites proclaiming to have the cheapest airfares, but none of them really do. Then you have the actual airline sites, which are so buggy, un-user friendly, and time-consuming that they make me want to forget about the whole trip. Then, when you’ve finally pieced something together that might work and you start to get your credit cards involved, aggravation increases exponentially.

Why would Bangkok Airways show me a fantastic non-stop flight from Samui to Chiang Mai, let me start the booking process, and then tell me that there was a site error and that I should go back to the home page and start again, only to show that the flight I had previously selected is no longer available (and is still not available 24 hours later)? Did my booking attempt “block off” those seats on the flight? Or did someone really swoop in and buy the last remaining seats on the flight as I was going through the process?

You’d think calling them would fix the problem, but the representative only spoke five words of English. “Sorry, try the web site.”

Then I get on Travelocity, where I find another flight that works. Things are golden until I actually put in my credit card information and click “Complete the Reservation” button. THERE IS AN ERROR PROCESSING YOUR CREDIT CARD. I call American Express to authorize it, and they convince me that if I try the charge again, it will go through. So I try again. Well guess what? The flight I wanted is no longer listed. Did my booking attempt “block off” those seats on the flight? Or did someone really swoop in and buy the last remaining seats on the flight as I was going through the process?

I call American Express, and they tell me that I have not been charged for the tickets, but I HAVE been charged a $22 fee from Travelocity for each of the ATTEMPTS to book a ticket.

I call Travelocity, and the lady who speaks twelve words of English offers to connect me to the credit card services department to sort out my charges. I’m thinking I’ll be talking to Travelocity’s credit card department, but instead I’m connected to American Express. American Express lady and I try to figure out why we’re talking to each other for about 20 seconds before I hang up and call Travelocity back.

At last, I get a customer service representative at Travelocity who speaks 40 words of English. She explains that the itineraries I tried to book did not go through because of a credit card problem. Thank you very much. She then says that because the bookings were not completed, the two $22 charges will drop off my credit card after 24 hours. We’ll see about that. She then offers to complete my booking over the phone for an additional $25 telephone booking charge. I tell her what to do with the $25 and hang up.

Back on the Travelocity web site, BOTH flights I had tried to previously book are no longer listed. Did my booking attempt “block off” those seats on the flight? Or did someone really swoop in and buy the last remaining seats on the flight as I was going through the process?

I swear, booking these flights is like trying to pick up a chick. The harder you try, the less likely it’s going to happen.

Guess what, Doug? We are leaving Samui at 7:45am. Blame the Internet.

Oh yeah, I still have three more flights to book.

Thailand, Here I Come!

October 15, 2008 - 2:30 pm No Comments

After carefully watching airfares for a couple of months now, I just booked my tickets for New Year’s in Thailand. I’m going with my buddy Doug. We’ll be in Thailand for two weeks and then Cambodia for a third week.

Still hammering out all the details, but it looks like we’re going to be spending New Year’s on Samui at some kind of Full Moon Party-like thing on the beach. I’m big on spending New Year’s in cool places, so I can’t wait for that.

Doug hasn’t traveled much, so it should be interesting. I had to push him a little to commit to a trip of this length, but I’m sure he’ll be thanking me for it later.

Home Sweet Home

October 10, 2008 - 11:25 pm No Comments

Been home a few days now, and I feel good. I’ve rested, showered, shaved, and my bug bites are shrinking. I am looking human again. And after climbing mountains in the thin Peruvian air, I feel like I’m ready to run a marathon.

Peru was a great time. Amazing sights, nice people. The pace we kept was exhausting, but we got through it. Careful planning, coordinating, compromising, and a decent amount of serendipity has meant that Josh and I saw and did even more than we had planned, which is exactly how you want to come out of any vacation.

As a travel companion, Josh was pretty flexible, practical, and efficient. The good thing about traveling with a fellow photographer is that there was finally someone to take pictures of me!

I’ve spent the last few days working on pictures, and I’ve gone back and sprinkled a few into my old posts. I have so many more to post. It’s pretty time-consuming, but I’ll get it done.

If everything falls into place, I’ll be doing this again from Thailand in a couple of months…

Thanks for keeping up… No regrets!

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Hello from El Salvador!

October 7, 2008 - 6:16 pm No Comments

Taxi happened to be waiting outside our hostel at 5:30am. No problem.

Zipped off to the airport, where we checked in and were taken to an office behind the ticket counter to open up and unpack our bags. I guess we were picked randomly. Nice to actually see some security for a change.

A “coincidental” weather delay occurred at the same time as the strike was beginning, even though it was barely sprinkling outside. We sat in the Lima airport for a while stressing that we might miss our connections and be stuck for the night in El Salvador, but everything worked out and we are on our way home.

Josh is ready to be home. He’s been antsy for a few days now. And I’m tired, too. It’s been a very full 11 days. I saw a lot of amazing things and got a helluva lot of exercise, the most I’ve had in years. I’m tired, dirty, sunburnt, and covered with midge welts. Maybe feral enough to go to a soccer game at Matute.

Off to board the last flight home…

The Ride Home

Machu Picchu, One More Time

October 7, 2008 - 2:43 am No Comments

Got my wake-up call at 4:45am this morning. Heard it pouring down rain outside. I had read in my travel guide that the rocks on the climb up Wayna Picchu are dangerously slippery when they’re wet, so in my semi-groggy state of mind, I figured that they probably closed it for the day. In that state of half-sleep, I also dreamed that I went to the front desk to ask about it, and they confirmed that it was closed. Fell back asleep.

Woke up again at 6am. Realized that the front desk also told me that they allow tripods in Machu Picchu and that perhaps they really don’t know anything. Also realized that I did not actually go down there and ask them anything. Concludedf that maybe they did NOT close Wayna Picchu down for the day, and that if I missed it, I would really regret not doing it. Threw on some clothes, ran to the bus station, went up to Machu Picchu, ran to the Wayna Picchu checkpoint, waiting in line for 30 minutes, and got one of the last available tickets do the hike. Very relieved.

I had a few hours to kill before my time slot to climb Wayna Picchu, so I took another stroll around Machu Picchu. Thick fog blanketed the ruins, and mist fell from the sky. It’s amazing how mystical the place looked, especially when the fog broke and revealed the ruins underneath. And it’s amazing how different everything was from the day before. A completely different experience. Of course, when it start to rain, the most brightly colored, photograph-destroying panchos go on sale at all the local souvenir shops. They should do photographers a favor and sell only brown and gray ones.

Inside Machu Picchu

Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock

I stopped to eavesdrop on a couple of tour groups. I learned that there are 28 llamas at Machu Picchu, and that they belong to the guys who cut the grass.

Free Jelly Beans!

Llama Eating Lunch

Inside Machu Picchu

While taking some shots, I started chatting with an Australian guy named Greg. He is traveling around the world in eight months and is a photography beginner, so we had lots to talk about. He was only visiting for a few hours and was disappointed with all the fog. I told him to be patient. Just then, the fog lifted and revealed the ruins in all their magnificence. We walked around for a bit more before parting ways so I could do my hike up Wayna Picchu.

Me & Greg in Front of Wayna Picchu

It looks imposing in photos, but I think it’s an illusion. Wayna Picchu stands 1181 feet above Machu Picchu. The easy-to-follow trail gets you up there pretty quick, and the rock steps all the way to the top are indeed slippery when wet. With no railings and sheer drops off the side of Wayna Picchu, one slip and you’re dead. I wonder how many people fall off each year.

After about an hour of grueling stair-climbing, I made it to the top. There were a few other people up there, all fighting for a bit of space on angled granite boulders. It was tricky (and scary) finagling myself around them to find my own space to sit and relax. The top of Wayna Picchu has to be one of the best places in the world to catch your breath. The view, with blankets of fog rolling over Machu Picchu below, was incredible.

On Wayna Picchu

Machu Picchu and the Road from Aguas Calientes

The hike down was much quicker but jarring on the legs. By the time I got to the bottom, I was completely, absolutely, 100% exhausted. What a finish to this trip!

Inside Machu Picchu

I met up with Josh, took a few final pictures at Machu Picchu, and then headed to the station to catch the train back to Cusco. Last-minute souvenir shopping went longer than expected, and we almost missed the train.

Inside Machu Picchu

On the way back, we took the classier “Vistadome” train. With the upgrade, you get larger windows, a fashion show featuring overpriced alpaca shawls and sweaters modeled the train’s attendants, and a guy who looks like a child molester waving his arms around and running up and down the aisles, making scary noises and asking people to rub the floppy alpaca dangling from his waist.

Peruvian Dancer

We sat with a very sweet Israeli couple. The husband wore himself out speaking to us in English, but he made a good effort and managed to keep us engaged for the entire four-hour ride. They extended an open invitation for us to stay with them should we ever go to Israel.

After getting back to Cusco, Josh and I ran out to take a few last photos of the main square and then visited Bembo’s, a Peruvian fast food chain advertised as having the best burgers around by Aritza back in Lima. Decent, but we were both a little disappointed. Just don’t think you can find a good burger outside of America.

Bembo's Menu

Tomorrow, we return home. And in the nick of time. Word around here is that a transit strike is starting tomorrow at 7am. No taxis, buses, or trains for who knows how long. Strikes in general suck, but it was nice of them to schedule it. If we can just get to the airport before the strike, we are literally home-free.

Aguas Calientes: Silicon Valley of South America?

October 5, 2008 - 11:40 pm No Comments


I’ve tried couple of Internet cafes, and I can’t seem to find one that has a connection stable enough for me to upload photos. Which is a shame because I have some good ones.

When I’m able to upload photos again, I’ll add them into my old posts.

Machu Picchu

October 5, 2008 - 11:36 pm 1 Comment

As we got closer to Machu Picchu, the scenery got more and more majestic. I could tell by the cone-shaped, fuzzy green mountains, the orange moss-covered cliffs, and the vines draped over the river from the trees that we were going to see something special.

Urubumba River from the Train

The train stopped at Aguas Calientes, the small town that pretty much exists only as a base for Machu Picchu day trips. We got our paperwork, finances, and schedule sorted out so that we could maximize our time up at Machu Picchu. On our way out, the receptionist at our hotel said the only four English words I think she knew:

“Yes, tripods are OK.”

Statue of Pachacutec

The bus up to Machu Picchu went up the mountain through about 47 switchbacks. You get very high very quickly.

Waiting in line, people pushed and cut into an obviously single file line, the same way they’ve been doing when getting off any one of our flights this trip. How is pushing and shoving acceptable in any culture? There are easily more tourists here than anywhere else in Peru.

As I handed over my ticket for entry, the lady says I can’t take in my tripod. More than aggravated. Once inside, I would find people with large backpacks and walking sticks, both of which were explicitly forbidden at Machu Picchu. I even saw a woman with a tripod. Can we have a meeting about this?

Machu Picchu truly is pretty amazing. It’s actually one of those places that looks exactly the way you see it in photos. There is that famous shot from the top with Wayna Picchu (the name of the imposing mountain in the background) and the Machu Picchu ruins sprawled out in front of it. The fast-moving clouds constantly change the mood of the place. The things I didn’t expect were the llamas openly gracing on the terraces, the ferocious, swirling winds throwing dust in my face, and the swarms of midges trying to fly into my eyes, nose, and mouth.

Machu Picchu

Llama at Machu Picchu

Inside the Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock

Machu Picchu

Josh and I, each with our differing aerobic capacities, agreed to walk around on our own. Nice to wander around a place like that. When you start to explore, you begin to see the place in more unusual and interesting ways. Getting that unique perspective is one of the things that makes visiting famous places so interesting.

Inside Machu Picchu

Terraces of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an amazing place today because it’s one of the few places the Spaniards didn’t discover and destroy when they were wiping out the Incas. Unfortunately, tourists HAVE found it and have surely been tearing it up since its discovery in 1911. Guys blow their whistles at you if you climb on the ruins, but that’s not enough. People are walking, touching, bumping, chipping, collecting, picking up rocks to use as a tripod because they weren’t allowed to bring one in… It’s only a matter of time before the place falls apart. I envision a time in the near future where a raised wooden walkway through the ruins is the only way to see Machu Picchu.

Last bus out of Machu Picchu was at 5:30pm, so you can’t really hang out until the sun sets.

Band in the Main Square

Tomorrow, I wake up BEFORE the crack of dawn (again) to climb Wayna Picchu. Machu Picchu is open to everyone, but the hike to Wayna Picchu is only open to a limited number of people each day, so you have to get up early if you want to do it. No regrets, right?

One Night in Cusco

October 5, 2008 - 11:20 am No Comments

The guide books spell it Cuzco, yet every store sign in town spells it Cusco. Yet the general who gave the town its name was spelled Cuzco. Can we have a meeting about this?

Josh and I had an unspectacular dinner last night. As good as it’s been, I’m getting a little tired of Peruvian food, especially yellow potatoes and rice, which seems to be served with every meal. I’m starting to crave the American stand-bys of cheeseburgers, Boston Market, and fresh salad that you don’t have to stress about eating. Josh has had two hamburgers already, but I am trying to hold out.

My night on the town was interesting. Walked around Plaza del Armes, the touristy center of Cusco featuring a cathedral and lots of bars/restaurants. Beggars filled the spaces between bars. Instead of selling blankets and hats, locals sold trays of cigarettes, gum, and chocolate. Guys walked around handing out flyers for their clubs (one promised me some cocaine), and bouncers hung out of each doorway and waved in any gringos who happened to walk by. One of them pointed to the cute hostess by the door, putting a hand on her shoulder and using the fingers on his other hand to create a “V” around his mouth, the universal symbol for cunnilingus. He asked me if I liked her. I did, but not that much.

I ended up going into about eight clubs, sitting down in one of them and getting two rum and coke’s for 10 soles, or about US$1.80 each. Considering that the elevation makes the effects of alcohol that much stronger, it’s a helluva deal.

I was amazed to find that 99% of the people in the clubs were locals. Hardly any tourists. Where do the tourists go? After not finding them in Lima, I figured that Cusco was going to be the main tourist hub of Peru. But I was wrong. Although the bouncers wanted me to come in, the locals inside didn’t seem particularly interested in interacting with me. The only place filled with mostly white people was McDonald’s.

Now, I’m on the Peru Rail train to Machu Picchu. We’re on the “Backpacker” train, the less expensive option, and it’s not that bad. I obviously have enough room and feel secure enough about using my laptop. On the way back, we take the classier “Vistadome” train.

Train to Aguas Calientes

Just went through a series of slow switchbacks to get out to Cusco, giving us a bird’s eye view of town and a panorama of the burnt orange Spanish tile roofs covering all the houses. There is garbage everywhere. On streets and in backyards, I see more stray dogs than people.

Trash Everywhere

Orange Roofs of Cusco

There is a young girl sitting next to me. Facing me, there are two more seats filled with a man and young boy. Together, they seem to be part of a much larger group. They look Indian but sound like they’re speaking Russian. Where could they be from? One thing is for sure: they are EXPERTS at being annoying. The girl next to me is tapping my chair. The boy in front of me keeps kicking me. The man sitting next to the boy speaks very loudly and suddenly to no one in particular. A little while ago, he got out of his seat by REACHING ACROSS AND GRABBING THE SCREEN OF MY LAPTOP TO PULL HIMSELF UP WITH IT. This maneuver was so outrageous that by the time I had crafted the appropriate response, he was already gone.

The Kid on the Train

Josh and I couldn’t get seats together. He is a few rows back, talking to a couple of Brazilians. He continues to talk to everyone.

I just made friends with the boy in front of me by sticking my tongue out at him.

Selling Flowers by the Train

On the Train to Machu Picchu

Cuzco in a Day

October 4, 2008 - 10:23 pm 1 Comment

Got into Cuzco early this morning, and there was no one to meet us. We hung around the airport for twenty minutes until a girl finally showed up with my name on a little sign.

We hopped into a van and she says that we’re probably going to miss some sites on our itinerary because we don’t have time. We also stopped to pick up our train tickets for Machu Picchu tomorrow, so that didn’t help either. What followed was a mad dash to the ruins around Cuzco and through the Sacred Valley.

Our driver whizzed up and down the narrow streets and winding mountain roads of Cuzco with ease. Traffic is no obstacle, our driver weaving through it with surgical precision. People of Peru go about their business in the middle of the road, and as long as there is enough clearance for a car to go around the rickshaw/shovel/box/dog/toddler, a driver will just whip around it, giving a friendly beep to let them know that’s what is about to happen. It’s a different philosophy than at home, where car horns are loud and obnoxious, much like the drivers who use them.

Our quick tour of the Cuzco was OK. The town is filled with stray dogs, cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and pigs. The local ruins are, for the most part, unremarkable. The town of Cuzco DOES seem interesting, though. Would have liked to spend more time here.

Sacrificial Platform


I was surprised by the Sacred Valley. What I imagined was a series of remote, miniature Machu Picchus, but what I found was that they basically existed in the suburbs of Cuzco. Each site was surrounded by souvenir stands Peruvian women in traditional dress posing with their sheep. They’ll let you take a photo for a few soles. Some of the archaeological ruins were pretty cool, but the Sacred Valley doesn’t seem so sacred anymore.

Ruins at Pisac

Girl in Sacred Valley

They gave me a bit of crap at Ollantytambo for using a tripod, something about professional photographers not being allowed. That aggravates me. A tripod is not what allows people to sell their photographs commercially. What’s the logic? To really crack down, they should ban SLRs, or ban cameras having more than 3 MP of resolution. If they give me a hard time about my tripod at Machu Picchu, I’m going to be pissed.

Ruins at Ollantaytambo

Steps to Ollantaytambo

Doorway in Ollantaytambo

View from Ollantaytambo

Waters of Ollantaytambo

Boys at Ollantaytambo

On the way home, our driver screeched to a halt on the edge of a cliff so Josh and I could hop out and take some photos of the gorgeous sunset.

Sunset Over Mata

Sunset Over Mata

Sunset Over Mata

Sunset and Moonrise Over Mata

Josh is worn out and can’t seem to catch up on his sleep. I must admit, I’m getting pretty tired, too. Our schedule up to this point has been grueling, with early mornings to catch flights and tours and late nights catching up on photos.

Tonight, Josh is going to turn in early while I see what the Cuzco nightlife is all about. Tomorrow, we’re off to Machu Picchu.

A Big Hole & Lake Titicaca

October 4, 2008 - 4:50 am 2 Comments

I’m alive. There were a few moments there where I wished I wasn’t, but I’m OK now.

In Arequipa, Josh and I booked a private city tour with a guide named Miguel. The route took us to see various buildings and viewpoints around the city. One of our stops was the Monasteria de Santa Catalina, an amazingly colorful complex. Pilar was our tour guide. Very professional and composed during the tour itself, she got very excited at the end of the tour when she realized we could e-mail her the pictures of her that we took while walking around.

Halls of Santa Catalina

Included in our private tour (public tours did not accommodate our tight schedule) was a trip to see Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world. Miguel spoke wonderful English and had loads of information for us during our four hour ride to Chivay (shih-VYE), the town where we booked our hotel and a short drive from Colca Canyon.

Spacious blue skies replaced the gray skies of Lima. The remote route through the mountainous scrubland reminded me of Arizona. Not much to see except for a few vicuñas (shy cousins of the alpaca with supposedly the softest fur in the world) and the occasional tour bus.

Vicuñas and El Misti

The shortness of breath I felt in Arequipa (elevation: 7,740 feet) gradually worsened as we ascended. My head started to hurt, my chest started to feel heavy, and I started to feel weak. We stopped at a rest station for some coca tea, and it did in fact help a little bit. After talking about some of the camera equipment I was carrying around, Miguel said that my camera costs more than his salary for one year.

Alpaca Madness

Our ride happened to take us to the highest navigable point in Peru, called Patapampa (elevation: 16,108 feet). It’s just a little turnoff on the side of the road from which you can see various mountains and volcanoes. We happened to arrive just as the sun was setting.

The Road to Chivay

Sunset at the Top of Peru

By the time we reached that point, it felt like I had a serious hangover headache and even my eyeballs felt like they were going to pop. I got out of the van to take some pictures, and I felt like I was going to pass out, fumbling with my camera to get a few shots off before I did. It was very cold and windy, making things even more uncomfortable. 16,108 feet is more than halfway up Everest.

After Patapampa, it was a quick descent down into Chivay (elevation: 12,000 feet), but the damage was done. I was miserable. The Diamox I was taking wasn’t doing squat, and coca tea would give me only temporary relief. I struggled to sleep.

Early the next morning, my digestive system started to rebel. For the next couple of days, I would spend a lot of time in the bathroom. And not to wash my face. Miguel picked us up in the morning to take us to Colca Canyon, but they treated me with oxygen at the front desk of the hotel before we left.

The drive through Colca Canyon took us on roads along the edge of the canyon walls. Steep cliffs down to the canyon floor a few feet from our van made things pretty exciting.

We went to a viewpoint to watch the famous Andean condors take flight, but we only saw a couple so high in the sky that you’d need the Hubble telescope to see them. That was a bust.

We retraced our steps through the canyon to stop at various viewpoints and take some photos. By this time, Miguel knew that Josh and I loved to take photos, so he made sure that we stopped for photos at every opportunity. To my surprise, Josh stood right on the edge of these cliffs to take photos, and he had no problem at all with the heights.

How Cool is this Guy?

Me, Josh, & Miguel

Looking into Colca Canyon

After the canyon, we made a quick stop at the local Chivay street market. The local merchants sold everything from tourist schlock to beans and seeds to beheaded, skinned alpacas. Miguel told us that we could buy a whole alpaca for about $50 and that it would feed us for a month.

All the locals wear baseball caps, but really ugly ones. Josh and I had the great idea to return to Peru with 1,000 Washington Nationals caps. We come as ambassadors for Major League Baseball and surely be celebrities among the locals.

After the market, we made a quick visit to the thermal baths in Chivay for some relaxation. It was awesome. For the first time, I felt like I was finally starting to feel better. At Josh’s request, there are no photos of us frolicking in the water.

Then back into the van for the long ride for Arequipa. I was doing just fine until we got back to the 16,000 feet mark again. Then the altitude sickness started all over again. I felt miserable all the way back to Arequipa.

Miguel dropped us off at the airport to catch our flight to Juliaca, transportation hub for Puno. We thanked him for an amazing time, gave him a nice tip to put towards a new camera, and went through security.

While walking through the metal detector, it buzzed and flashed red lights for both me and Josh, but they let us go without any further inspection. Kind of frightening. Security in Peruvian airports isn’t nearly what it is on Peruvian streets.

Here in Puno, the hotel is, once again, fantastic. Like all the other upscale hotels we’ve stayed in, the staff is accommodating and friendly, and the hotel lobby and restaurant play mixes of bossa nova and chilled out loungy remixes of popular American music. And a good location. I’m looking at Lake Titicaca right now through our hotel room window.

Many of the hotels in the more remote towns (including this one) request that you don’t put used toilet paper into the toilets and instead put it into the tiny bins next to the toilet. Josh and I agree that’s kinda gross and break the rules. At least there is toilet paper. No need to use a sponge yet.

After another rough night last night, I woke up this morning feeling surprisingly good. No weakness, and an Advil took care of the remaining headache. Finally, after three days of misery, I was feeling OK.

We caught an early boat tour of Lake Titicaca (tee-tee-KAW-kaw, not titty-caca). Our first stop were the Floating Islands, enormous platforms made up of layer upon layer of reeds. The families who live on these islands wear traditional dress and take great pride in showing you their casas. They also take great pride in selling you their souvenirs. I am a sucker, walking away with a model boat made of reeds and two textiles that I will hang in my house one day.

The People of Uros

The kids were especially adorable. Not sure if it was part of the act, but they very friendly and excited to have tourists around. They’d play with us and sing songs to us. Unfortunately, most of them looked like they had pretty bad chronic sunburn on their faces. One of the four year old girls looked like she had the skin of a 40 year old woman.

Young Singer from Uros

Boat on the Floating Island

Then to the island of Taquile (tah-KEEL), where we walked up 550 stone steps for a view of Lake Titicaca and lunch. Even in the remote island of Taquile, Peruvian police and security holding guns and batons were everywhere.


Tequile Baby

Being at high elevations the last few days means that I’ve gotten a lot of color on my face and neck. It’s also very dry up here. Rubbing my hair makes little static sparks, and my nose is producing fragments that could scratch mirrors.

Feels so great to be healthy again and to finally have an evening to catch up on stuff.

Tomorrow morning, we fly to Cuzco to visit the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Good news is that from here on out, we’re at lower elevations, so I should be fine.