Roughly a year and a half ago, we left Uruguay, where we’d lived at sea level, for a tour a megalithic structures in Peru and Bolivia. The tour organizer, for all his wonderful contacts and insights, does not ‘get it‘ when it comes to running a tour. I could describe several instances of his thoughtlessness, but the one that impacted us the most was insisting that we’d have no problem with the altitude.
Because he doesn’t. Because he lives in Cusco, elevation 12,500 feet (3,810 meters).
When the plane door opens, the problems begin: breathing, moving. The ‘altitude pills’ the organizer had recommended did nothing. Within a short time, my wife was having difficulty with her vision. A doctor, fellow tour-taker, looked at her eyes, went to a local pharmacy and brought her some eye drops (which he wouldn’t let us pay for!). They helped.
But throughout the trip she had trouble with depth perception, more than a minor problem when navigating archaeological sites.
Returning to Montevideo, she made an appointment with an ophthalmologist she had the good fortune to have met several years prior. Using very sophisticated equipment, she did a scan and determined that my wife had a ‘macular pucker‘ in her left eye, basically a wrinkled area on the macula of her retina, which would obviously affect vision. And unfortunately, not something apt to improve over time.
So, a year later, we go back into Montevideo for another scan.
Looking at the output, the doctor — who speaks excellent English — lapses into her native tongue. ¡Es un milagro!
“I believe in miracles,” my wife replied.