Peru Travel Blog

Chewing Cocoa Leaves in Cusco

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PostPosted: June 19, 2006 3:00 PM 

The flight from Puerto Moldanado to Cusco took about 55 minutes. Cusco is at an elevation of 3,400 m (11,000 feet). Upon arriving, our guide explained that one way to avoid altitude sickness is to chew cocoa leaves. Yes, these are the same leaves that are used in the production of cocaine. Apparently, the plant has several useful purposes and it is important for the Andean people. Chewing or eating the plant has not narcotic effect -- it takes a very complex and scientic process to convert cocoa leaves into the drug. Even still, we were advised not to try to take any leaves with us out of the country, just in case. Cocoa tea is very common here as well, and it is quite tasty. I launched right in, chewing the leaf and drinking the tea.

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