So the day is finally here! I booked this trip 9 months ago in Janaury and I've been training throughout summer to be ready. I even learnt how to ride a bike again! Big thanks to my brother Graham, Jenny and Helena for helping me with that! I also raised some money for 5 charities: WWF, NSPCC, AGE UK, ST MUNGOS, MIND. I've packed, repacked and questioned everything I'm taking on this trip as I'm aware I will have to carry most of it all the time. There aren't any porters on this trip, so I have to be able to carry it on my own. I'm quite proud of the backpack and daypack which are all I have to see me through the next ten days. I have to be honest, despite being a frequent flyer I wasn't looking forward to spending 23 and a half hours on flights and waiting in airports for the connecting flights. My booking took me from London to Cusco via a 4hr layover in Madrid and a 3hr layover in Lima. So I brought a book with me and bought two more in the London airport! I had an overnight flight and thanks to a tip from my cousins family I managed to sleep about 6 hrs of it so felt refreshed and awake when we landed in Lima. My last flight was fantastic as I managed to get a window seat and I got an amazing view of Cusco as we turned to land. By the time I got to sunny cuzco I was awake and rareing to take on the day! My first impression of cusco was that I was going to be mugged. There were what seemed like hundreds of taxi drivers crowding round me at the exit of the airport but I managed to find my prebooked transfer and as soon as I was past the throng things got much better! I got driven the short distance to my Hostel. Milhouse Hostel Cusco was much more beautiful than I thought it would be, a gorgeous reception area with an open roof tiled area and a fountain and garden out back, wifi with my own room and bathroom and hot water! Well it was practically a hotel! I checked in and showered, put all my stuff out onto the double bed, then packed a day bag and set about having a look around before my evening briefing about the Jungle Trek Adventure I was booked onto start the next day. Cusco stands as a living testimony to the fact that the Inca civilization, one of the worlds most sophisticated, could not be erased. It is among the continents best preserved Baroque colonial cities. In pre columbian times anyone entering the city was greeted with "Ama sua, ama quella, ama lulla" - "Don't lie, don't steal, don't be lazy" - Summing up what was important in this cooperative society. Laziness was a capital offence punishable by death. Everyone in an Incan community - except for royalty and priests-was required to work on projects such as roads, irrigation ditches, and aquaducts, based on a sound philosophy that if everyone participated, they would all take care of the finished product. When the Spanish took control of the country the cooperative projects became forced labour. But at its peak, Cuzco was a city with sophisticated water systems, paved streets, and no poverty. Of course the Cusco of today is dramatically different from the awesome city that Francisco Pizarro and his conquistadores found when they reached the capital of the Inca empire. 500 years ago an estimated 15,000 people lived in the city, which was linked to the rest if the empire by way of "Chasquis" - long distance runners who carried news and messages from the 4 corners of Tawantinsuyu to its capital. Today it has some 200,000 residents and daily plane and bus services to Lima. The most curious characteristic of Cusco at first glance is its architecture. Huge walls of intricately fitted stone pay testimony to the civilisation that over 500 years ago controlled much of the south American sub-continent. The Spanish Conquerors ended up erecting their own buildings on the indestructable foundations, often using the same huge rocks that had been cut by the Incas. The Cathedral is made in part from the stones hauled from Sacsayhuaman, the Inca fortress outside the city. The Plaza De Armas is the citys central square which in Incan times was known as Huancaypata. In addition to it being the exact centre of the Inca Empire, its also the place where the most important religious and military ceremonies are held. The cathedral is built on what was once the palace of Inca Viracocha and mingles Spanish Baroque architechure with the stoneworking skills of the Incas, and took a centurey to build, being completed in 1654. Its Maria Angola bell in the northwest tower can be heard up to 25 miles away. Made of a tonne of gold silver and bronze the bell which is more than 300 years old is reportedly the largest on the continent. It certainly sounded pretty good, althought you cant see it from the ground or from inside the cathedral. I had met a couple of English men at the conveyer belt in Lima and we arranged to meet outside the cathedral for a walk around the town that afternoon. I went into the cathedral beforehand and saw lots of Inka gold covered gates and opulent gold leafed Baroque pulpits. I also walk up the hill a bit to a nice view over the townand had a splendid view. I even posed and met with some natives and their alpaca. I then met up with one of the English I met at Lima called Chris and he is easily distracted by all the street sellers. There are many here selling scarves, crafts, jewellry, paintings etc. We made our way to the square and I'm glad to see the second guy Gerald and a couple from Scotland as we begin our walking tour around Cusco central. Gerald is very knowlegable and walks us past some Inca stoneworks to a market square where there are dancers and musicians and people selling there wares. Next we head down to a big undercover market which is apparently the cheapset place to buy anything, but don't eat there because you'll be ill! Theres also a big supermarket opposite. I started to feel unwell. The old altitude sickness feeling was returning to me and I was dreading it affecting my visit. I had suffered quite badly with it in the past and Cusco is 3,399m above sea level (higher in fact than Matchu Picchu 2,430M). We stopped for a little while in the Plaza San Francisco before continuing on around to the Plaza de Armas again. It was almost 6pm and I was really starting to feel unwell so I said goodbye to everyone and wished them well and returned to my Hostel. All my stuff was on my bed so I placed it all on the floor and curled up in bed for 15 minutes before my briefing. I managed to haul myself up keep it together for the briefing at 6.30pm which was in my Hostel. There I met Paulo who was to be my guide for the Jungle Trek Adventure tour up to Matchu Picchu. We talked about the trek briefly and he gave me a list of what to pack. Ten minutes later we were done and despite the noise coming from the bar upstairs I'm just feeling too ill to socialise. I go straight to bed as I feel awful! I'm supposed to be going on an adventure tomorrow at 7am! But right now I'm too sick to care. I look down at my pile of stuff by the door. My thinking is that I'll sort it all out in the morning as my body clock is still on UK time (6 hrs ahead). I find my earplugs and put on my thermals and down jacket to keep warm. I really hope I feel better tomorrow.