Galapagos/Quito in June

Matryeshka

Well-Known Member
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14,668
Hello wise FSUers! I have an opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands, which is really rare and really exciting. I’ll be going as part of an EF Tour so not asking about sightseeing—this will be my 3rd tour with EF so I know there’s not any time to wander aimlessly. I do have two issues, one surmountable, one...maybe not. Issue #1:

1. (Surmountable) Quito is one of the highest cities in the world and I live below sea level. Does anyone have any experience acclimating themselves to less oxygen? While I am in relatively good health and had no trouble keeping up with the break-neck pace of EF, I am 40 and, ahem, a wee bit zaftig. I also cannot afford a gym membership but my apartment does have a treadmill. I’m thinking incline activities would be good but I also think I might need breathing techniques?

2. (Possibly insurmountable but going on this trip because I want to make Alex Trebek proud) I have a phobia, yes the medical psychological kind, of, ummm, mountains and large open spaces. (I also have a fear of enclosed spaces, go figure. If it’s less than six stories, my fat ass takes the stairs not the elevator. Drives my friends up the wall). Oh, and vertigo. I have extreme vertigo. I found this out on an EF tour in Switzerland where I had a full physical and mental breakdown in the Alps. With 50 students and their families and 10 of my coworkers watching. (Luckily, there were three doctors present. They couldn’t wait to drug me which they had to do to drag me off the bus). Does anyone have any experience with aversion therapy? Mine is to the point I cannot watch movies like Gravity or The Martian without becoming
violently ill/filled with terror. I feel like this is something I need to get over. After all, I have nightmares about planes colliding a week before a trip, but I put on my big girl pants and board because I don’t want fear to rule my life. I’m tired of missing experiences. There are lots of places I want to see and my phobias just seem silly. Plus snorkling. In the Galapagos. I CAN’T MISS SNORKLING NEAR THE TORTOISES.

Any ideas/help appreciated, especially with #2
 

rfisher

Let the skating begin
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69,292
Have no help or advice with your very real concerns, but I'm jealous of getting to visit the Galapagos, even more than Quito and I know quite a bit about Inca archaeology (do look at the incredible walls built with no mortar--seriously good stone masonry). It's very good you didn't plan a trip to Machu Pichu. Quito is at a high elevation, but it's not as mountainous in regard to walking.

And not just the tortoises, but the marine iguanas. And Galapagos fur seals.

I hope you find a way to enjoy this trip. I'd be rereading On The Origin of Species like crazy so I could identify where Darwin was. Good luck.
 

moebius

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,156
If you are worried about the high altitude, I would suggest flying into Guayaquil. However there will be a longer layover and more expensive. I have had altitude sickness at 12000 ft and it was not fun. My heart started racing as soon as I got off the plane, had headaches, mild nausea. But drinking coca tea really helped me with this issue. For some it didn't work and had to resort to oxygen tanks. And for some, that didn't work. It took about a day for me to acclimatize to the altitude after drinking the coca tea. I would suggest to take it easy in high altitude on the first day. Walk slow and avoid going uphill. Don't eat too much. Altitude sickness can affect anyone, even athletes. Males are more susceptible to altitude sickness than females. However I saw an elderly man like in his late 70's-early 80's at 13000 ft. I couldn't handle that altitude very well and there was no coca tea or oxygen tanks to relieve the sickness.
 

skategal

Bunny mama
Messages
8,519
No advice for phobias. But, my husband took his parents to Ecuador.

They took altitude pills to reduce the chances of getting sick.


Also, they said coca tea works wonders.

We all went to Boulder last year and wondered about the effects of altitude out there as we live at sea level.

My SIL is a triathlete who trains in Boulder for the summer months and at sea level the rest of the year.

She told us information about how your body reacts to altitude.

I can't remember exactly but it was something along the lines of that your body has a store of red-blood cells that will help you not feel the effects of altitude for the first 3-5 days so you will think you are OK.

But after the store is depleted you can get hit with the side effects of altitude for a few days until your body builds up the red blood cells again.

This totally happened to me. After about a week, I felt it the worst but I was fine at the beginning and end of the trip.

So if you are only going for a short time, you may feel better than if you stayed there longer.

Just something to keep in mind.

Enjoy your trip. Sounds awesome.
 

kalamalka

Well-Known Member
Messages
692
Haven't been to Quito yet, but I have spent time in both La Paz, Bolivia (the one capital city that is higher than Quito) and Cusco, Peru (which is over 500 m higher than Quito). I think that people's reaction to altitude (particularly whether they get sick or not) is quite variable and not really predictable. The first time I went to Peru (during which time we spent over 3 weeks in the Andes), I was in reasonable physical condition and about 50. I did not get sick, but I noticed that while I could walk long distances as long as it was reasonably flat, I would get tired more quickly than usual and it would take me longer to rest/recover. I went back 14 years later to Cusco, carrying more body weight and leading a less active life, and again the main issue was a noticeable difference in stamina, which of course was much worse to start with. So I'd suggest working on your endurance in general, and your idea about incline activities is probably a good one - also walking up hills and as many stairs as you can fit in. And coca tea, as mentioned above, can be helpful for some - it certainly didn't hurt me, can't tell to what extent it helped.
(sorry - can't help with phobias. It sounds like something you want to work on, not just for this trip but to improve your quality of life generally, so good luck and I hope you can find useful resources and approaches).
 

Yehudi

Queen of Spam: Modernizing for the Asian palate
Messages
4,655
I was in Quito a few years ago and while I was fine doing general tourist activities, I did find myself struggling when we went hiking outside the city. So unless you are doing something a bit more active you should be fine.
 

Rob

Beach Bum
Messages
14,925
My brother lives at 10,000 ft, he reminds me to breathe out all the way to push out the carbon dioxide. He said that you will inhale deeply automatically to get the O2 but people forget the breathe out, not shallow.
 

Japanfan

Well-Known Member
Messages
24,816
2. (Possibly insurmountable but going on this trip because I want to make Alex Trebek proud) I have a phobia, yes the medical psychological kind, of, ummm, mountains and large open spaces. (I also have a fear of enclosed spaces, go figure. If it’s less than six stories, my fat ass takes the stairs not the elevator. Drives my friends up the wall). Oh, and vertigo. I have extreme vertigo. I found this out on an EF tour in Switzerland where I had a full physical and mental breakdown in the Alps. With 50 students and their families and 10 of my coworkers watching. (Luckily, there were three doctors present. They couldn’t wait to drug me which they had to do to drag me off the bus). Does anyone have any experience with aversion therapy? Mine is to the point I cannot watch movies like Gravity or The Martian without becoming
violently ill/filled with terror. I feel like this is something I need to get over. After all, I have nightmares about planes colliding a week before a trip, but I put on my big girl pants and board because I don’t want fear to rule my life. I’m tired of missing experiences.

Any ideas/help appreciated, especially with #2

Good for you for facing your fears and not succumbing to them, especially given that your fears give you nightmares. Phobias often require the help of a therapist and/or repeated exposure to the thing/situation one is phobic about.

I have a few phobias myself, including claustrophobia and terrible terror of snakes.

I also have a driving phobia, but I drive anyway, because I have to. On the worst of days I feel like a total warrior going out in traffic. Sometimes I drive too slow, and once when I was doing that, someone drove up beside me on the adjoining lane and yelled "You shouldn't be on the road if you don't know how to drive". And that happened another time, as well. I don't think I'm a danger on the road, however. I drive as little as possible and there have been a few times in which I had a severe panic attack on the road. I put my four-way flashers on and pull over as often as I need to.

Of course, on one of the occasions when I had my four-way flashers on - on a warm summer day - someone sailed past me, and yelled out his window: "Hey lady, you've got your four-way flashers on". :D :eek: :p
 

Kasey

Fan of many, uber of none
Messages
15,831
Matryeshka, maybe for the phobia, you can start small, and begin introducing those things now, a little bit at a time, when it is under your own control? I am terrified of heights, and have challenged that fear multiple times, doing things like bungee swing and ziplining; but would have perhaps had an easier time if I had started slower and smaller, and worked my way up to facing the fear.
 

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