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 © Prantik Mazumder (
23 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 15-01-2010
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108 photos comment(s)

A paltry collection from my last travel which was physically intense but photographically a sheer disappointment for various reasons.

Over the holiday season I went down to Peru for about two weeks. Landed in Lima just before midnight on Christmas Day, and took the first flight next morning to Arequipa. Spent one night in Arequipa, then took the bus to Puno and lake Titicaca. Next day, I moved to Cuzco, a beautiful colonial town in the Andes. The strategy was to slowly get acclimatized to the high altitude of Puno (about 4000m) and Cuzco (about 3500m) as I ascended from Arequipa (about 2300m). Well, so much for acclimatization. It started with the regular high altitude sickness symptoms of headache, nausea, breathlessness and general grogginess which for most people go away in couple of days as they acclimatize to the low Oxygen level. Well, not so for me. All hell broke loose on my first night in Cuzco. I could hardly sleep, had splitting headache, nausea, dry cough, high fever, and my lungs started making bizarre crackles. In the morning, as I started to hallucinate a little, and when even folding my socks made me pant, I realized that I was in trouble. My hostel lady called the medical center. The doctor came to my hostel and after measuring my blood oxygen level and heart rate (too low and too high respectively), he immediately took me to the emergency clinic where I was clamped to O2 bubbler and IV drips for two nights. Apparently, I developed HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), a critical combination of Hypoxia and Pneumonia. After two days of taking wonderful care of me, the clinic let me go. The doctors and nurses were absolutely wonderful, and I have nothing but admiration for them. Also, much thanks to Animesh who gave me crucial information and advice during this time. Also thanks to Cristian whose "Visions of Peru" feature on PH was a source of inspiration and for his suggestions on places to visit. 

Even after I was released from the clinic, I never felt fully functional in Cuzco due to the combined effects of heavy doses of antibiotics and high altitude. Always felt weak, nauseated, and generally fatigued, lacking the spirit to work the streets and find those indelible photo-ops. Besides, the town of Cuzco is a zoo (speaking for myself  here) and calling it "touristy" would be an understatement. One can not walk even five steps (seriously, I counted one day) without being asked to buy some crafts, or Machu Pichu tour, or massage. If my health permitted, I would have left Cuzco long time ago and spent few nights in the siesta-infested magical villages in the Sacred Valley. Unfortunately, I could only go for a day trip to few of these towns; Maras, Calca, Urubamba, and Pisac. To the future travelers to the Peruvian Andes, here is my recommendation: spend a few nights in these towns instead of Cuzco. I regret every moment for not being able to do that.

After getting exceedingly tired of Cuzco, one day I packed my bags and descended to Pucallpa, a rough and tumble town in the central Amazon of Peru. Spent two nights in San Francisco, a Shipibo Indian village on the banks of river Ucaayali.  While 100F and 95% humidity and the abundance of oxygen immediately refreshed my lungs, the over-abundance of mosquitoes, critters, snakes and the absence of electricity, running water and indoor plumbing was little too exotic for me to handle after two full nights. Left the deep jungle after three days and spent one night in Yarinacocha, a small ramshackle of a fishing town on the other banks of Ucayali. A day later, headed back to Lima where I spent the last remaining night before I flew back to the US.

Overall, it was an intense trip, I got some immersion into the cultures and I am very happy about it. However, photographically, it was a sheer disappointment. Not much worthwhile I could capture in this trip. As I sift through my RAW files, I realize how bland and uneducated my vision was, especially in the Andes. I can of course blame it on lack of oxygen and overdose of antibiotics, but that would be a cop out. Or I could reflect upon it and try to understand why things did not work out and learn from this experience.   

I have been struggling to figure out the best way to present the photos and finally decided to upload them chronologically: Arequpia to Puno to Cuzco to Sihipibo Village to Yarinacocha to Lima.  



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