A visit to Puno market looking for remedies for altitude sickness

Strange things happen while you’re travelling, often unexpectedly.

Imagine being in one of the most beautiful and peculiar places in the world – lake Titicaca – while you barely understand where you are…

Yes, altitude sickness could be really annoying, specially from 2.800 mt upwards. And the worst thing is that there is not much you can do..

So, after a paracetamol – useless – and a good sleep – useless – we went looking for what seemed to be the only solution: COCA.

Here in Puno every single person keeps chewing coca leaves, spitting here and there without caring that much.

They keep catching them into their mouth as pop-corns and, as far as we know, coca leaves are also the perfect present in case of meeting someone after a long time.

Exhausted, we go exploring the big Puno market looking for the common remedy for altitude sickness..

FANTASTIC: we’re immediately among Guinea pigs – yes, Guinea pig (cuy) is one of the main local dishes! – every kind of fruits and vegetables, screaming women and strong smells.

Then, we bump into a nice old lady who sells us – after a long negotiation – a small bag of leaves for only 1 Sol (0.30€) and explains us what to do: leaves are edible, you can chew and also swallow them!

Ok! Perfect, no problem.. let’s do it! The taste is not bad, even if it’s like eating our garden’s hedge.. But OK, if this can help us against this headache, this bone pain, muscle pain and dopey feeling! Yes, let’s go, 5/6 leaves.. as if they were chips.

Unfortunately it didn’t work… the leaves only caused a sleepless night!

So, yes.. try them. But don’t have high expectations of the power of Coca leaves when you suffer of altitude sickness!


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beyond the trip ebookCiao, siamo Angela e Paolo e a gennaio 2018 siamo partiti per un viaggio a tempo indeterminato. Da allora giriamo il mondo con un budget di 10€ al giorno.


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