6am comes so early when you are tired. Somehow, I pulled off the unthinkable: sleeping poorly after going to bed at 8:30pm. Luckily, I didn't fair so poorly as one of my 3 roommates. The Aussie must have had to run to the john 20 times throughout the night. He was more regular than Big Ben. Still, group travel is group travel, and we all got ourselves up and about in order to make it to the pharmacie to load up on substances before our 22 km trek up parts of the old Inca trail. I had come down with severe allergies, and was hacking away from agitated bronchial passages. For 66 cents American, I was able to remedy the whole problem. And up the Inca trail we went.
Fairly early on, we stopped at a rest stop / zoo combo. It had a jungle badger type creature that guzzled poweraid, and a not shy at all monkey that wrapped itself around my neck, climbed on top of my head, dug through my backpack and the stuck parts of its tail into my mouth (I think that wins me the world hygiene award). Good thing I was already a little
sick, or else I would have been worried. After detaching mr. friendly from my neck, I went on to trek through some very scenic parts of mountainous jungle. By this time the group was starting to get along rather fantastically, if I may say so. We were starting to realize that, in all brutal honestly, some of the other groups that were doing the back door trek really sucked. Nothing like the grass on other side of the fence being burnt to a crisp to make you appreciate your own lawn eh?
The first highlight of the day was coming across what I dub a river basket. It is a basket that is used by the locals as a way to get products / food across the river, and by tourists as a way to get themselves across the river. There is a bridge not too far down that actually delivers one to where we were going (hot springs), but that is not nearly as fun now is it? Nice and hi off of a decently sized river, you launch yourself off of one side, going two by two, and then kind of get stuck in the middle while
people on the other side help pull you. See video. Great fun, and it led right into the other nice highlight, the hot springs.
In order to put this into the right perspective, I need to add that we had just spent the night in a hostel with no hot water, and spent the day hiking through a hot a sweaty jungle. We came across this hot springs that had been turned into a major tourist destination, compete with restaurant, changing cabins, showers, landscaping, parking lot and a new huge sign in construction. It felt like we had stumbled into paradise from the jungle.
Funny thing is, once we arrived at our hostel, we wondered what happened to paradise. Our hostel in Santa Teresa made boy scout camp cabins look a luxury resort. As Sheila discovered, those that are up early and beat the old cranky landlady out of bed have a scenic view of all her fake teeth waiting by the sink. Hostel Maccu Piccu came complete with corrugated plastic roofing and paper thin walls and concrete floor. In an effort to reduce their environmental impact, they do without toilet seat covers and bathroom cleaning. Unfortunately, the
missing toilet seat covers seem to be a 'pressing issue' throughout the whole trek. Good thing I had some issues of my own and took some Cypro. Nothing like a good medical plugger to keep you from needing to use the facilities.
This night, I was rather tired, so I set out early to bed. Unlike last night, I slept like a baby, and was ready for our easier day getting over to Aguas Calientes.
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