Getting High in Cusco, Peru

From Bogota, I took a very early flight to Cusco, Peru – connecting through Lima – on Avianca.  It cost me another 20,000 United miles plus $87 for business class service.  After a delay in Lima, I arrived Cusco airport around 1:00 p.m.  I got a couple of nice photos of the Andes from the air as we were descending for landing.

Andes Mountains on Descent into Cusco

Andes Mountains on Descent into Cusco


Instead of spending time negotiating, I just paid the “official” fare of 35 soles (approx. $10 USD) for a taxi to the hotel.  The JW Marriott – El Convento is a superb property built on the site of an old convent, hence the name, and incorporates the old architecture into the building and actually has some old Inca walls as part of the property.

Courtyard at JW Marriott El Convento

Courtyard at JW Marriott El Convento


Upon arrival, my bags were quickly grabbed and I was taken to a comfortable sitting area in the lobby where I sat drinking the Coca Tea they brought me while my check-in was processed.  Three different people assisted with the check-in and they couldn’t have been more friendly and service-oriented.   For this stay, I used 70,000 Marriott Reward points for the two night stay (vs. a nightly rate of around $180 USD).  As a Marriott Rewards Gold Member, my stay includes free wi-fi, free breakfast, and an oxygen system in my room.  This brings me to the next subject.

Bogota was at an elevation of 8,660 and Cusco is another 2,500 feet higher at an elevation of 11,152 feet above sea level.  By comparison, the highest point in the city of Denver is 5,690.  Between the long day of travel and the altitude gain, I could really feel it.  My resting heart rate is about 20 bpm here than it is at home and shortness of breath is comes on quickly.

The common means of adjusting are to take it easy, avoid alcohol and heavy meals, and drink coca tea or chew coca leaves, the local remedy.  Yes, these are the same leaves that cocaine derives from and it is possible to trigger a positive drug test.  It doesn’t sound like the science is necessarily there for this but the locals have been doing this for a long time so one has to trust their experience.

Even though the hotel sits one block from the Plaza de Armas with all of its bars and restaurants, I can’t tell you anything about it.  I was in bed at 7:00 p.m.


One Response to Getting High in Cusco, Peru

  1. Hi Walter, enjoying your blog very much – don’t forget to empty your pockets of all those coca leaves before you depart!! Safe travels old boy – look forward to catching up soon. Cheers Adrian

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