15 October 2023 Lima to Cuzco
In search of coffee and oxygen
Signs of Depression
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling slowed down
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, waking early in the morning, or oversleeping
- Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
- Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not have a clear physical cause and do not go away with treatment
- Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
Disclaimer: I contemplate my own mortality and eventual transition into non-existence on a daily basis. Mindfulness of Death (Maranasati) is an important Buddhist practice. I am not suicidal… well, at least not yet!
Link to a previous talk/meditation. (I include these links here as a way for me to gather my thoughts about this topic)
Breakfast at the Hotel Libre, and plenty of it, as I don’t expect to be eating again until I get to Cuzco.
I caught the Lima Airport Bus which doesn’t take much longer than a taxi but at a quarter of the cost.
First job on arriving at the airport was to revisit the Aeronautical Sanitation International Service, that is, the Airport Health Service. Although they were unable to actually administer the Yellow Fever vaccine when I arrived because of my age, they are responsible for issuing the International Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate. The cost was about €9 and worth every cent.
I don’t consider that I am being judgmental in my observations. I am not trying to say what I think is right or wrong, or even what I think is skillful or unskillful, I am just trying to observe and to discern my own and other people’s behaviours. When I am travelling this is a great opportunity to consciously watch my ‘self’, to watch other people, and to watch the world, particularly through the lens of Philosophy, Buddhist & Evolutionary Psychology… and a little bit of neuroscience thrown in for good measure.
My lens of choice currently is from the perspective of how we are conditioned to protect, promote and satisfy a ‘self’ which can never be satisfied because ‘we are the slaves of craving.’
Sitting at the bar in the departure lounge was a young man in poncho, wearing a cowboy hat, and cowboy boots. He had a Clint Eastwood (for a few dollars more) beard and was with his girlfriend. I assume he must have checked his horse in already.
Point of information: As a 16-year old fashion aficionado, I was known to wear lime-green flared hipsters, tank tops, and 4-inch high platform boots. Some might say that my tastes haven’t gotten much better.
The Sky Airlines flight from Lima to Cuzco was very basic. No drinks or snacks unless you paid for the same. Thank goodness for hotel buffet breakfast.
The view from the window was cloudy for most of the journey until we started our approach into Cuzco. As we climbed into the Andes, the clouds cleared and there were snow capped peaks to be seen, but also a great deal of turbulence. The plane circled the runway and the view on landing was quite wonderful
My aversion to taxis led me to consider taking the bus from outside the airport. But I couldn’t find the bus stop, so I opted for a taxi after all. The taxi took me to the Hotel Monasterio San Pedro. I chose this hotel specifically because it is right next door to San Pedro railway station.
Cuzco is at an altitude of about 3400m, so it is recommended that you take a few hours rest once you arrive in the town. So, I took 45-minutes before heading off to find an early dinner because I was desperate for an early night.
I took a very slow walk around San Pedro market. I wasn’t gasping for breath but I had to stop and stand still a couple of times. I must be honest in terms of my own physical and mental health that I have walked more in the last 2 days than I had in the previous 2-months.
On my return to Ireland in July, I could not ignore my continued ‘low mood’. Fortunately, I didn’t have all of the common symptoms of depression listed at the start of the page… just most of them. Depression is very cunning, it would have you believe the emotions being experienced are real and permanent. It is quite enchanting, a spell.
I didn’t know how to respond to these feelings because, in and of themselves, they imply that there is no appropriate response. “It just is”.
From a Buddhist perspective the appropriate response to any and every situation is from the heart. What did this situation need? Kindness? Compassion? Joy (in the sense of self-appreciation)? Equanimity (a balanced perspective)? Or a combination of all?
As a starting point, kindness and compassion were invaluable, allowing me to wallow in bed most days until the afternoon.
Very quickly the reality emerged that my ‘low mood’ wasn’t going anywhere for now, so it was going to be important not to be depressed about being depressed.
- Lima Airport Shuttle Bus € 5
- Yellow Fever Certificate € 9
- Lima – Cuzco flight (Sky) € 58
- Cuzco Taxi to San Pedro € 2
- 2 course dinner at Kushka € 26
- Hotel Monasterio San Pedro € 45 per night with breakfast
- 2 litre bottle of water € 1.50