What were we DOING in this video? It’s hard to tell…there was so little oxygen at this elevation (12,500 feet) in Puno, we all got pretty goofy. In fact, we were so loopy, Lydian almost fell out of this third story window into the parade when she leaned on a glass panel that fell open suddenly from the bed. In this video, you can hear how “high” we were from the lack of air.
They sell bottles of oxygen in the pharmacies in Puno and John made a late night trip to go get some in the middle of the night when we thought we were going to suffocate. Alas, there was none left so we took aspirin instead (to thin our blood) and chewed incessantly on coca leaves (the only thing that really helped). This experience taught us how valuable the coca leaves actually are in these high-altitude locations. Coca leaves are, of course, the same plants used in a complex chemical process to make cocaine, but they don’t do the same thing when they’re still in their raw plant form. The only things we noticed about the leaves when we chewed them was that we could breathe and stand up at 13,000 feet. Grab some from the baskets at the airports or in the hotel lobbies and keep them handy while you’re in Peru. Chances are, you’ll need them.