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Published: November 4th 2014
Buenos tardes amigos!
After I published my last blov, I realized a part got cut out.. so I apologize for the quick ending on Nazca Lines, not that you noticed, but I did! And well.. its just gonna be forever lost.
So, Cusco, Peru. I sold it quite short before, but again, the basic jist is.. should you go there, you'll like it. I actually really liked this city and its abundance of NorFake and outfitters shops. I won't go as far to say as stores, more of... "we have an overload of all this fake North Face stuff, so while we try to get you to book a trip with us, we hope you buy some our outdoor clothing" places. They have everything a camper or hiker could possibly need or want. Along with all of that, Cusco also has a very large handicraft market. Swoon! Before we went there though, we were distracted by about 100 small children in the square wearing costumes made out of newspaper. We have no earthly idea what that was about but we stood amongst the parents snapping our own photos too!
Bec and I finally went to the market with
the Aussie couple, that doesn't act like a couple, to see what we could buy for souvenirs (aka for ourselves). That's not mean to say about the couple, it's true. Even Cynthia broke out into a cheer the first time she saw them first hug. She actually thought they were brother and sister for the first week or so. We thought it was bizarre too, but what does our opinion count? They are very nice! 😊
I bought a bag that I don't need, nor have adequate room for but it was calling me! We wandered up and down the aisles of very similar/if not identical booths for at least an hour and a half. All of us coming away with purchases. Including, but not limited to, a hat I put on as a joke but ended up liking. ha. Back out of the market and into the city of hiking and camping gear. Cusco is the main city people go to before leaving for Machu Picchu. So, it makes sense for all the gear to be here. In case you left or need any kind of git or gadget, you can get it here. I thought I may
freeze to death on the trail and debated and debated and debated about getting more layers, or more "sufficient" layers, but alas... I did not. I told myself I had plenty and reminded myself that people exaggerate. :/
After our random late night out, the next day we decided to skip the walking and take a city bus tour. We went up to the Jesus statue, with a beautiful view overlooking the whole of Cusco. It was bigger than I thought. We proceeded on to Sexy Woman.. which Bec and I still don't know what is, but that is exactly what it sounds like.. Sacksy Woman. We didn't feel well so we continued to just leave it at sexy woman, when in reality it was a bunch of boulders strewn about the place and left for people to wander around and admire. If that makes sense to you, you are way smarter than us. We went to a fancy alpaca gift shop, where they tried to get us to buy stuff but we just went with the free tea.
Remember me telling you about Jacks Cafe and how we were obsessed with it? Well, we skipped it this
Inca Trail 2014
night and went to a steakhouse instead. You got to choose 3 types of meat and grill them yourself on a hot stone. I chose shrimp, steak, and alpaca. Alpaca is sorta like llama. It was hands down the best thing I ate that night and is also one of my favorites for the whole of South America! Big statement!
We all met back at the hotel for our Inca Trail briefing. The group, just as a reminder, is now: Bec and I, Russell, the Aussie couple that doesn't act like a couple, Second Direction (the 3 English boys), 2 19 yr old English girls, Swiss and an Aussie guy, another English girl who's been there since the start, and finally the 2 others: Germy and wormy. Germy because she's German and wormy because she's the Dutch girl who had the worms grow under her skin in the Amazon. I feel bad calling her wormy because we actually really like her a lot, but she is attached at the hip, for reasons still unknown, to Germy. Germy, if you haven't guessed was not our favorite, and well nothing Dutch rhymes with Germy, so, I'm left only to call the
cook your own meat
Alpaca on the right
other one.. wormy. At this point, we all know each other relatively well as its been a few weeks together. Russell, as well as everybody besides Germy, are pretty much our favorites. A prime example of why I love Russell is because he says to me out of the blue "MK, say eleven, eleven, eleven" not understanding.. I say "eleven, eleven, eleven" "No! Say it in Spanish!" So I say "once, once, once" which he proceeds to dance. If you don't get that, don't worry, but if you do.. you'd love him too. Moooooving along....
Somewhere around here we went, as a group, for a sushi dinner. I ordered an amazing miso and a tuna roll. I was very excited.
I ate freaking CANNED tuna, wrapped in seaweed. I ate it. I could not (and still can't) get over it, but I ate it. I do actually like canned tuna, on a sandwich. However, serving it at a sushi place?? Absolutely not. Bec assures me this is how she would eat it at home. (Note to self: DO NOT eat sushi in Perth) She's gonna kill me for that, but canned tuna in sushi
is WRONG! I scream! WRONG! I was still hungry that night, but oh well. Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks that is wrong. Have you EVER had canned tuna in a sushi restaurant???
At our briefing the previous night, we met our hiking guide, Alexis. He has hiked Machu Picchu sooo many times he can't count, blah, blah, blah. He told us things we would/would not need, a basic timeline, how to prepare, etc. He seemed alright. Easy peasy, let's do it. After the ridiculous bunch of questions our brilliant group members asked, we headed for bed. When I say ridiculous, I mean rewording exactly what the man just said into question form. "Girls, I suggest you bring a pair of leggings" "Is it ok if we bring a pair of tights?" "Bring bug spray" "I only have the rub on kind, does that work?" "Bring toilet paper" "Will there be toilet paper in the bathrooms?" That mess drives me INSANE! Don't even get me started on the whole "what's the weather going to be" conversation!
We were all packed in our small bags and ready to go for the Inca Trail. Up for breakfast,
just in time, the next morning. The man cooking eggs was grumpy because people (us) would come in 10-15 minutes before closing. Shortly after breaky, we took private transport to the town of Ollyantaytambo. We stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the Sacred Valley. If you assume it's beautiful, way to go! It absolutely is!! 😊 Along the hour and a halfish drive, it was about as scenic as you can get. Curvy road, rolling hills, blue skies, serene lake, diced up farmland, animals, roadside shops/houses/shacks, panoramic views, children playing, green grass as far as you could see, mountains, sharp/jagged peaks complete with snow and ice, etc....
On to Ollyantaytambo (I like to say this town. Like I'm leading a charge or something- Onwaaard, march to Ollyantaaaaytaaambooo!).. I don't know, face palm, just go with it. A quick drop of bags and up to an ancient Inca sight. This town is famous for two big Inca sights (a glimpse into what's ahead). We hiked up to a visually pleasing sight plopped right on the side of a steep mountainish hill. Supposedly they used it for storage and refrigeration. Sometimes up to 20 years for potatoes/corn... much like the sights in
the Colca Canyon. Storage, fridge, storage, fridge, storage, storage, storage. The bottom line is... no one knows what the hell these "sites" were for, but this is what they tell us.
The main purpose of this here blovel is to provide you peeps with a handy dandy checklist for the Inca Trail, should you decide to "conquer" it one day!
But if not, ride the train and.. skip this part.
I'm gonna call this a girl checklist, because well... its what I took, and I'm a girl. This is EVERYTHING you need for 4 DAYS and 3 nights. Anymore is pointless, really, and I bet most would say even this is overdoing it. Also note, I did this in the dry season:
1 pair hiking shoes (dry season does not need boots),
2 pair hiking socks (I used 1 pair but I know that may be EXTREME for some of you),
1 pr long night socks,
1 pair of thin hiking pants,
1 long pair leggings OR tights OR workout pants (OR means, not all),
2 sports bras,
your pref on # of panties (I took 4 including
the ones I started the hike in- I slept in a fresh pair each night, I then wore them the next day),
very important! 1 pair of shoes to wear while not hiking, (I took my lace up ked kinda things, but you can do like Bec and wear flip flops with socks 😊)
1 tank top or short sleeve,
1 long sleeve + 1 flannelish type shirt for extra layer at night while eating dinner
1 fleece or windbreaker,
pair of gloves
1 light rain jacket (I took a $1 folded up plastic poncho),
Head Lamp! do not bring a flashlight.. head lamps are the way.
I rented a sleeping bag and mat... very clean and warm. Highly suggest doing! (Please note, if you have a good sleeping bag, there is no need to wear clothes whilst in it. This is the truth. An inner sheet is not needed either. I did take one, but it was not necessary.)
I also rented 1 hiking pole, they offer 2, but 1 was perfect. I do suggest this as it helps with uphill, but also really well with down! 😊
plastic grocery bag to put your shoes in at night
If you want, take an "outfit" for pictures at Machu Picchu (I did not do this bc, well, you hiked there.. might as well look the part!)
Now.. as far as personal toiletries go.. this is what I packed/suggest packing..
toothbrush/paste, small washcloth, roll of tp, baby wipes, HAND SANITIZER, Kleenex (your nose WILL run), tampons if you need them (since I had that pleasure! insert mad face), bug spray (I just stood next Bec and they didn't bite me) 😉 sunscreen, and of course.. some Deo for your b.o.!
bandaids, chapstick, neosporin, blister preventer (moleskin), advil, sleep aid (you go to bed VERY early and may need it even though you've hiked all day), decongestant, contact solution (extra pair in case), imodium (I feel for you if you get the shits here!!), and anything you take regularly...
Now that you know what you need, let's talk about how you do it! First, you have to book it in advance and it should cost somewhere around $600. There are only a certain number of people at a time
allowed on the trail. Since I went through G Adventures, they took care of everything for me. You will carry and be responsible for your own backpack. I mean a regular backpack or "daypack", like one you would use to actually carry books to school in, not some bohemith. This is where the porters, thank you dear Lord for them, come in. The porters are men who carry what you don't carry. Men ranging from 18-80, possibly younger. Carrying the tents, the chairs, the pots, the pans, the sleeping bags, the dining tent, the kitchen tent, the food, the water, the plates, the cutlery, the stove, the gas, the eggs!, the you name it, they carry it, and it is A LOT. They are amazing. Wait until you see a picture of one. Amazing. They are only allowed to do the trail twice a month. They are also regulated on how much they can carry. Each porter is supposed to be limited to 20kgs, JUST under 45 pounds. I carried way under 10 pounds, and wished I had less. Each hiker is allowed 6 kgs (just over 13 lbs) to put in a "stuff bag", which the porters carry. The
minimum wage, if they even get that, is 43 soles per day, which is about 15 US a day. Keep that in your memory bank when you see, or I tell you, what they do.
The total Inca trail is 45 km (26 miles).
Day 1- 14 km (7 miles)Day 2 – 16 km ( 8.6 miles)Day 3 – 10 km (5 miles)Day 4 – 5km (2 miles)
Each day you only need to carry enough water to last you to the lunch stop. Everyday at lunch (as well as breakfast and dinner) we were provided with new boiled water to refresh our bottles/hydration packs. Believe me, you want the water, but my word, is it heavy!
Our main guide was Alexis, but we also had Javier bringing up the back. Alexis is a city boy, Javier was once a porter. Which one was nicer do you think? I'll tell you, it wasn't Alexis. He thought he was higher than everyone and often spoke down to Javier or the porters. In Peru, the national language is Spanish, but they also have
an indigenous language called Quechua. The porters mostly speak Quechua and hardly any English, plus they were SO shy. It was difficult to talk with them, but they understood our appreciation I think! 😊
Ok, it's start day!! We drove to the drop off/starting point. We pull up and see all these people dressed in matching purple. Freak, a huge school group. As we unloaded we realized they were, in fact, not a school group but our porters. They were everywhere. We were only 14 people, yet had 22 porters. We were in shock. They were sun baked, wrinkly, worn men, with small, compact bodies of muscle. We did as instructed and shoved our sleeping bags/mats into our duffles along with our extra clothes, lined them up, and watched as these men loaded them onto their bodies. Small men with gigantic HEAVY bags strapped to them. They went to be weighed in to make sure they were not over the limit. We went to check in. You get a stamp in your passport for the Inca Trail.. bonus! Leaving the post, you immediately cross a bridge. Simple enough. Well, this is where we got our first glimpse of just
how amazing the porters are. Not only are they carrying all of this, they are running. They scurried across the bridge and up the first incline before we could even register it. See, they have to get to our lunch spot, set up shop, prepare the food, cook, and numerous other things before we get there. When you realize what all that entails, it's a lot. Keep in mind our group was not all that slow.
Unbeknownst to you dear readers, I often come to a part in my writings in which I want to write about things, but I don't. I don't because it's most often about people. Don't get me wrong, I know I have written many a story about the weirdos along the way. However, in this situation/trip, I was with many people for a long time and have made several bonds that I hope remain in tact. I would be leaving out a huge chunk of our trip though, if I left some situations unsaid. Sooooo... if you continue reading, please note: this blovel (and all previous) is for my own memory/entertainment. These are my personal opinions. I enjoy that others (that's you!) "enjoy" my
ramblings. However, with such "technology" and an "open to the world" blog, it has its hindrances. Proceed with caution! 😊 Let the "shredding" begin. 😉
Germy is miss "exercise this and exercise that, I count calories, I'm not vegetarian, I'm pescatarian!", which is all fine. However, when you talk about exercise 85% of the time and how you wanna work out or how you go running or all about eating healthy... you should be able to back it up. The worst was when she did 25 air squats with her big backpack on to get attention, but she did them incorrectly. I kept my mouth shut. This is all to say that my grandmother, who just turned 85 (yeah!), could walk faster than her. It didn't matter because we have the lead guide and then one to bring up the rear, but we didn't expect miss exercise to be huffing and puffing when we weren't even going uphill yet. Even wormy left her side. This was great for us because we didn't have to hear the constant noise that comes out of her mouth, but I genuinely did feel sorry for her at times. We hiked about 7 miles
train back from MP
that day. It sounds like a lot, but we had plenty of stops and breaks and water and snacks. We passed several sights along the way which Alexis explained, but really, once you've seen one inca sight.. you've seen 'em all. That's not to downplay their bizarreness or beauty or any of that, but just how I felt about them. They were cool, but mind blowing? I wouldn't agree.
However, when we arrived to the lunch stop, we were amazed. They had a full on "dining tent" set up with table and chairs. Handwashing station. Juice upon arrival. But let me tell you the most awkward thing. When we first arrive, they clap for us. They clap and say "congratulations, you made it!" WHAT?? Why are they clapping for us? They just beat us here by a good 2 hours or so. I get it.. like, yay we made it, but to be such a big deal? If we actually were 85 maybe? I don't know. Nice, but awkward. It made every one of us laugh. Especially at first when we were looking around to see why they were clapping! Every meal had a starter soup, main meal, and
dessert. Plus water and juice. To add to that, it was actually REALLY good too!! There was two main cooks, and one main guy who delivered us the food. We were amazed. We ate, then fiddled around before heading back to trail. They ate after us, repacked ALL that stuff, left after us, but soon enough.. here they come whizzing past us.
OH! The bathroom... See, the inca trail has 500 people that START it EVERY DAY. Roughly 300 porters and 200 tourists. For math reasons, lets say that's 400 guys and 100 girls starting each day. They have flushing toilets, but they are squatter toilets. This means they do not have a seat. They have the "bowl" part set into the ground with two spots for your feet, meaning you must squat in order to make it into the toilet. Now, for boys, you stand up to pee, easy enough. For girls, you sit. After you've been hiking for a few hours and downing water every chance you get, you've gotta pee. When you have to pee bad, it's hard to control the flow! If you pee to fast on these toilets, you'll be wearing it. I got
I made it!
the hang of it pretty quick! Ok, let's go there real quick.. let's talk about the poopin. Pooping was actually easier than peeing. Poop goes straight down. Pee comes out like a mad, out of control racehorse. I will say though, some did not find it so easy. I know this, because I saw this. I feel soooo sorry for people who had diarrhea. I can't even begin to think how you'd control that! Thankfully the toilets flush. They didn't stink like I thought they would and they actually weren't as dirty as I thought they'd be. Needless to say, I was thankful to be a girl.
We hiked and talked and hiked and thought and hiked and admired and hiked and hiked and hiked, taking it all in. The trail has been around for centuries. Think of all the feet that have crossed it. All those lives being on the exact same trail. Even just the feet that have crossed it mere days before I did. I think its incredible. All the ones who have crossed since I've been, thousands upon thousands. I think it's weird, but neat. We are connected just because our feet were once in
the same place. I like that.
Whoa. So.. that night we arrived to our clapping welcome committee, to see how we'd be sleeping for the next 3 nights. Our tents were set up in a nice little row, dining tent just below and kitchen tent right beside. Outhouse toilet further from there, still a squatter. We had "tea time" with cookies and hot chocolate. It wasn't quite freezing cold, but it was by no means warm. After tea and before dinner, we had an introduction to all of our porters. They said their name, age, where they are from, if they are married, and how many kids they have. If I remember correctly, the oldest was 78, and youngest 19. Most from the nearby Sacred Valley or Ollyantaytambo. Most married, some joked wanting more (or less) wives. Majority had kids, and usually had 3-5. We did the same in return, except no one is married, nor has kids.
Dinner was delicious, a quick game or two of cards, then off to our tents. We were all so close together, you could hear everything. One of the best memories of the trail is lying in the tents before bed
intricate stone work, look closely
I still do not know how they did this
listening to the boys crack jokes. We could also hear Germy talk about her birthday. It was going to be the day we arrive to Machu Picchu, and she wasn't going to let anybody forget it. It got so bad along the way that even Alexis was making fun of her. The two 19 year old girls were laughing so hard one night they almost rolled out of their tent and the sad part is, she's turning 29.
Whatever.. haha. That night, I woke up to someone vomiting, horrifically. I have never heard such a thing. I knew it wasn't Bec, but just as soon as I heard it, it stopped. Bec and I confirmed that neither of us were crazy, that we did hear it. The next day we woke up way too early to hear Javier knocking on each tent.. "coca tea" "wake up" "would you like some coca tea" "Mary, Rebecca, coca tea" It was this calming, yet high pitched fingers on a chalkboard kind of voice. I reached out to grab the tea, but soon realized I had no where to put it. It was too hot to drink, so I just sat there wasting
time, looking at this cup of tea. Soon, I set it outside the tent so I could get dressed. Dressing was not difficult because there was only so much to choose from. Grab this and that, put it on, you're ready. I did enjoy the tea once outside. Quick breakfast of oatmeal or pancakes or something and then to look for the sick one. We knew it was her, the other English girl. Poor thing had been up all night being sick. All the way down in the outhouse toilet by herself. She said she was ok to continue on, so we left it at that. After we ate, brush of the teeth, grab of the backpack and ready. Alexis was not happy when he realized our bunch is not the most punctual. He warned us to be up and ready, in order to beat the mass of other hikers. He was prancing around trying to huff, but no one cared. He got annoyed, so those of us that were ready, left with him. He made Bec and I mad because he must have heard her being sick in the night and did nothing about it. He said he doesn't
do anything unless someone comes to him. Well, she didn't want to go to him because she didn't want him to send her home. The second day hiking is supposedly the hardest. We set off and soon after we knew she wasn't going to be ok. We made her tell him she was ill. He said that she could hang back and walk slow with Javier. Great.
All was swell until Germy made a comment about her (the SICK one) being slow. I almost lost it. This is why we don't get along. I never said anything, but it still infuriates me to this day!! We hiked and hiked and hiked some more. Every so often stopping to let slowy mcslowerston catch up. She is the worst. Also, the worst was the non-couple couple, the boy part of that.. major BO. I couldn't even walk behind him it was so bad, and this was day 2! As far as the scenery, BEAUTIFUL! Today was the day to conquer Dead Woman's Pass. It is called this bc, from below, it looks like a woman laying on her back. See photo. It's a gradual incline that turns into steps on steps
on steps. The poor porters were walking by pouring sweat. I do not know how they do it!! And they are still passing us!
The hardest part of the whole thing, to me, was the last 30 steps before reaching the top of the pass. It was so close, yet I could only go about 5 steps at a time. 5 steps, stop, 5 steps, stop. One of the younger English girls and I did this together until the top. You reach the top, and really, you do feel like you've accomplished something! Amazing views in both directions, where we came from and where we are going. The rest of the trail was a breeze. From here we went down, down, down. This is where you lengthen your pole to help stabilize yourself. It really works. Russell was such a nervous ninny going down that neither Bec nor I wanted to be behind him. Bless him.
We got to camp that night only to realize it wasn't actually night. Most people took a nap, but Swiss and I couldn't sleep so we sat on the little stoop overlooking the valley and talked about all the places we want
Spiderman! This man carries the eggs!!!
He was so embarrassed but I wanted a pic with him! What an incredible job not to break them!! He's so little!
to go. My mother probably does not want in on that convo! 😉 It was good though because he has been almost everywhere! On the top of my list are Egypt and Madagascar, ya know, just so you know. 😊 Annnywayyy... lunch, dinner, cards... back up and at it the next day. Down, down, then up, up, up. We saw a couple deer drinking from a lake. Hiking, hiking, hiking. The sick one was feeling better. Germy was still painfully slow. All was swell. We had lunch with a view this day. Even a few llamas made an appearance. While hiking we had very deep conversations like "would you rather not wash your hair or brush your teeth for the rest of your life". Second direction kept us in stitches laughing at these questions/topics! We went through movies, songs, favorite everythings.. it's a long way to walk.
It started to slightly sprinkle on the 3rd day. Not even enough to get out the poncho at first, but then it did rain. Not for very long, but long enough to get wet. It was kind of fun though. We hadn't had any other troubles, and I always think its kind
of funny to see how people react to natural elements. As if any one can control it. We got to camp, and then took a little side trek to another inca sight. We passed many along the way, see pics. When we got back it was pouring down. We were huddled in the dining tent and the porters were huddled under makeshift poncho tents. We were yelling for them to come and sit with us but they wouldn't. At least not until Alexis said they could. We hounded him. He said "I feel for women and babies, not grown men". He was warring on everyone. He eventually waved them on, but only a few came. We had to keep punching the inside of the tent that had filled with water from above. They made a makeshift ditch so the water wouldn't come racing through the tent. It was an experience that I really enjoyed. Granted, I'm perfectly happy sitting here completely dry, typing this. 😊
It was our last night. Don't forget the next day is Germys big 29. After dinner, we were ready for our usual dessert, but this time they brought in a cake that read "Happy
Birthday Germy!" Ok, well, it said her real name, but it would've been better if it said Germy. She was all giddy and "embarrassed". pfffft. We were all so impressed they made a cake!! How in the world?! It was very exciting, and tasty. Alexis just sat in the corner and laughed.
The next morning was going to be a 3:30 AM "coca tea" wake up call. 3:30 AM. maybe it was 3? It was ridiculous was what it was. We had to get up that early to sit on a bench, when its cold and dark outside. We were actually worried it was still going to be raining, but the clouds parted and it was clear! We did as told and were up and on that bench in plenty of time. We thought it was so we could be first in line, but really it's because the porters need to get all our mess packed up so they can leave and catch the train back on time. If they had just told us this from the get go, we would have been less grumpy. I thought it was just bc Alexis wanted to get a seat on the
bench instead of sitting on the ground. Russell was the best. It's 3:30 AM and people are wanting to have conversations. NO. Do not talk to me at this time. Russell was losing his mind, so much he had to walk away from all the people. haha. We were under an awning, but once you walked out from it, you could see the most beautifully clear Milkly Way.
The do not allow people to start hiking until 5AM. We only had a 2 hour hike, and flat. As soon as we went through the gate, I could feel the adrenaline pumping. Why? I still don't know. I wanted to get there. I wanted to see it. See Machu Picchu in real life. I wanted to see it before the hoards of other people that day. Remember, I thought we were up to beat the crowd. We stopped shortly after beginning, to have a snack break. People were passing us left and right. Alexis said we weren't in a race, but I was. We had all day to sit, let's just get there! The sky was ever so slowly getting lighter and lighter. We winded around curves just as merrily
as could be. Germy was starting to fade, but who cared. There was one last set of stairs clled the "Monkey Steps", where we had to use all four limbs to climb up! That was fun! We had finally arrived at the Sun Gate, and I, even, faster, realized why we weren't in a hurry. The sun had not yet risen all the way. ha. Nevertheless, I was looking at Machu Picchu!!
One of those moments where you see the image you've seen hundreds photos of, in real life.
I'm going to end here with one of my favorite quotes, and perfect for a blovel about a trail!
"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for." - Louis L'Amour
Tot: 1.462s; Tpl: 0.111s; cc: 17; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0358s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb