"Where in the World is Kristen and Her CPAP?" Part Two: Peru
Kristen Cascio is a CPAP user from the United States who has a never-ending sense of wanderlust. In this series, Kristen will share her experiences traveling the world while managing her Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA}, one destination at a time. Click here to read Part 1.
How I fell in love with traveling
My interest in travel began in middle school. I distinctly remember watching the Travel Channel and seeing travel-icon Samantha Brown (if you know her, you know what I mean!) take the train to Machu Picchu in Peru. Her entire experience seemed magical and I dreamed of following in her footsteps someday. When I boarded the Inca Rail train to Machu Picchu in the winter of 2021, I couldn’t believe it. This trip was only one of the amazing experiences I had in Peru, which quickly became one of my favorite destinations that I have ever visited.
Preparing to travel to Peru
I was lucky to spend 3 weeks in Peru. I started my trip as all international visitors do, with a flight to the capital of Lima. From there, I boarded a local airline to Cusco, which would be my home base for my trip. I read a tip online that recommended buying a window seat on the left of the plane for the flight to Cusco; from there I enjoyed beautiful mountain views as I flew into the small city airport.
Because I was spending 3 weeks in Cusco, I rented an AirBNB versus a hotel. I did not need a plug adapter for Peru which made traveling with my electronics, including my CPAP, worry-free. The only challenge I ran into with my CPAP was with my distilled water. I packed 3 small bottles of distilled water in my checked luggage, but I did not anticipate how the altitude of the city would impact the amount of water my machine used every night.
Adapting on the fly
Cusco is 11,152 feet (3,399 meters) above sea level. I used a chamber full of water every 2 nights, so I used up my bottles quickly. I was not able to locate distilled water in any of the local shops. The tap water in Cusco is not drinkable, meaning you need to boil water first or buy bottled water. I ended up boiling tap water and using that in place of my distilled water.
Speaking of the altitude, it can take several days to adjust to the altitude of the city. Many people, including myself, experience altitude sickness when they first arrive. This can consist of fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Taking it easy, drinking plenty of water, and using local remedies of tea can help in the adjustment. Some people are lucky and adjust quickly, but it is important to plan for a few days of adjustment when you arrive to Cusco.
Traveling in Peru with my CPAP
I pride myself on my consistency with my CPAP, but sometimes travel gets in the way! I traveled to Lake Titicaca which required two overnight bus trips from Cusco to the city of Puno. I did not have a portable CPAP battery yet, and I was hoping for an outlet at my seat. Unfortunately, this was not the case. For non-CPAP users I think the overnight bus was much better than expected. It was equipped with plush reclining chairs and curtains between the seats for privacy. I accepted that I could not control the circumstances on the bus and that I would be tired the following days but the trip to Lake Titicaca was beautiful. I got to learn about, and visit, some of the families that live on islands made of reeds on the lake.
I had so many varied experiences during my trip to Peru. I completed challenging hikes, visited ancient Incan ruins, enjoyed coffee and shopping in the San Blas neighborhood of the city (known for winding streets and unique artisan shops), toured salt mines, and enjoyed an endless array of delicious dishes.
My favorite things
While I am lucky to have many memories to share from my trips, I’d like to share my “FAVE” list, standing for “food”, “activity”, “view”, and “experience.”
Kristen’s Peru “FAVEs”
F: I fell in love with the traditional Peruvian dish Pollo Saltado. This chicken stir-fry dish has a mixture of spices and French fries. I tried to recreate it at home, but it was lacking the variety of spices and flavor. I am currently on the lookout for Peruvian restaurants in Boston that serve the dish.
A: My trip to Peru was the first time I drove an ATV. Though I was nervous at first, I caught on quickly and joined an ATV tour to Moray, an ancient archeological site used by the Incans to cultivate crops.
V: Nothing beat the view at the top of Wayna Picchu. This is the taller mountain that you see in pictures of Machu Picchu. After climbing the mountain, which requires you to be on your hands and knees at the final ascent, you are rewarded with a view of the entire ancient city of Machu Picchu. I spent about 30 minutes at the top, watching the city come in and out of view as the clouds passed by.
E: While perusing Google maps in my AirBNB I noticed there was a spa nearby that had float tanks. Having never used one before, and with the exchange rate in my favor, I booked a session. It was one of the most relaxing things I have ever done! The tank is filled with 2 tons of salt, meaning you float effortlessly and weightlessly during your session. I opted to keep the twinkle lights and soft music on during my session, but there is an option for sensory deprivation with no lights and sounds. It was so relaxing that I booked 2 more sessions while I was in Cusco.
More adventures ahead
My CPAP allowed me to be more rested and present in my travels. I hope you will continue following my adventures while travelling with a CPAP; I’m just getting started!
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