Peruvian Fiends

Sunday, February 08, 2015


I spent two weeks exploring the areas around Cusco and Machu Picchu in Peru earlier this year.  It was an awesome experience.  As a city dweller, it was humbling and inspiring to witness for myself such sheer scale.  I could not truly grok the weight of the mountains before I stood beneath their shadow, nor the vastness of the earth without looking across its infinite plains.

One memory from the trip, however, sticks out like a longsword in the kidney.  Perhaps writing about it will exorcise my demons.


I was surprised to see many people at Machu Picchu wearing wide brimmed hats, long sleeve shirts and pants, under the mercilessly blazing sun. Not me, I thought. Hats are for tools...

Unlike the areas around Cusco, Machu Picchu is a rainforest zone.  As such, it's home to sandflies, which at first glance resemble miniature house flies.

Do not be deceived. THEY ARE OF THE DEVIL. They will rape and pillage your body, and leave behind nothing but a shriven, pain-filled husk.

The bite itself is hardly noticeable, and initially leaves a small red spot, often with a drop of blood in the center.  I counted about 40 bites, but surprisingly, the first two days were not unbearably itchy.

The next two days were a time now known as The Scourging.

Each bite expanded to about an inch across and turned blue, like big bruises.  My legs had become instruments of torture.  Two big lumps that existed for no purpose other than to be the source of terrible, terrible pain.

Beware the flies.

The rest of the trip was amazing.


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