The Fog Also Rises


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South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu
January 21st 2009
Published: April 3rd 2009
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Rising Through the FogRising Through the FogRising Through the Fog

There are some ruins in Perú, You can see from the Gate of the Sun, It's known all over as Machu Picchu, And there I'd known I'd won!
I wanted to do it differently. Write it differently and leave out the photos, but I didn't. Instead, I procrastinated, wrote, procrastinated more (and more and more and more), and finally wrote again. Lastly, I took a swig of beer, yawned, and held on to the Backspace key until I kept hearing that annoying beepbeepbeep sound. Everything was gone. Everything, except for my ranting at the end of it all that had nothing to do with Perú. Just some crap about suffering & striving & personalities & romanticism...as if I have any clue what the hell I am talking about. A good amount of time later, something happened. That tiny little white paperless typewriter I picked up down under crashed, blacked-out. We both just sat there motionless, staring at each other with nothing to say. Actually, now that I think about it, I quietly sighed Fuck and blinked a few times, but that was it.

So where was I?

Browner,
Shorter,
Squatter,
Squarer,
Taller,
Blonder,
Thinner,
Fairer.

Braids & top-hats,
Small quick paces,
Dust breeze blowing across,
Happy squished faces.

Loading time,
We are off to Cusco,
One day two seats me,
Un niño y su madre y su gato.

Up,
Down,
Round,
And round,
We began our take off,
From zero ground.

Click clack click clack,
The roller-coaster ascends,
The air grows thinner,
Through dips dives & bends,
With fatigue and insomnia,
The constant night bus trends.

Blackness encumbers,
There is nothing in sight,
Except two dimensional mountains,
And fear of the night...
Obliteration,
Isolation,
Elevation,
Desolation,
Where the hell´s our destination?

The Cheshire Cat moon breaks through,
A tilted clear bowl of cream,
My heart rate now subsides,
As I float aimlessly in dream,
And the hookah smoking caterpillar,
Takes one more hit,
While Joe Ben keeps screaming,
We are in God's fur-lined pocket,
Twin suns,
Golden-flaked,
Technicolor shows,
Cinnamon baked,
Red heart queens,
Eternal light,
Streamlined tangerines,
With nothing to fight,
We have the keys,
Tranquility for man,
Love & peace,
Hot Damn!

I am jolted and come to,
Up for good around four,
Nothing to hear,
But the engine roar,
And pit pat pitter patter,
Melodious cloud cries,
Through glittering white,
Star-spackled diamond plum skies.

The suns time has come,
It is the dawn break,
Perfect timing,
Lighting up Titicaca Lake,
Not much further,
Y estamos aquí,
Yes we are here,
Finally!

I stumble out of the bus in a blur. The cobble stone streets greet me as I enter the historical capital of Perú, and probably South America for that matter. I can think of nothing, but finding a bed for two reasons. One, I shared two seats with a seven-year-old Peruvian boy, his mom, and their cat on a day long bus ride and two, I am meeting up with a couple friends from home and that will undoubtedly involve too much drinking.

I find a bed and crash. The deep sleep refreshes me almost as much as the freezing cold "guaranteed hot water" shower wakes me up. The doorbell rings. The time has come. I meet up with Nichols & Perkins (or Adam & Ryan) and we head off to the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. Nichols gets his McDonald's fix while Perkins and I eat next door. Then, with the towering aged churches staring down upon us and voices & laughter echoing all around, we hit the streets...

Somehow Nichols & Perkins manage to board their 7am bus (or some godawful time) for Titicaca Lago the next day and my
El Lago TiticacaEl Lago TiticacaEl Lago Titicaca

The largest lake in South America sitting at over 3,800 meters (~12,500 feet) on the border of Peru & Bolivia.
short-lived time with them is over. I find my trekking company and after their bullshit of fraude, decepción y la policía, the permits and everything seem (seem!) to be in order.

My alarm...3:30am! I didn't even know my alarm clock worked at that time. I happily jump in for another cold shower and stumble down to the van. I am the first stop of four. There are two others we pick-up before heading off to the Inca Trail. Next up is a girl from Houston, Texas (to abstain from negativity on my least favorite person I have met since leaving, she will more or less be omitted from here on out) and then Anthony, from Sydney, Australia. Just us with our guide (Edwin) and a handful of porters, who will carry all the tents and food for the next several days.

Our two-and-a-half hour long van trip turns into a five hour trip when we learn that the farmers strike has escalated and the roads are blocked. Back alleys and dirt roads take us to our starting place, seven kilometers away from our previously expected point of entrance. No time to fret, let's get moving.

Right, left, right, left, I move along with 25-pounds on my back. The least of my worries for the day. We have the noon sun beating down on us and the smell of fresh pine swirling around. Less than 20 minutes into our hike to the "starting point," we hit a small river, but this is part of the fun, right? Shoes off and trudge across! The porters head up into the mountains for their way to the starting line and the rest of us continue straight ahead...or straight into the Seven Dwarfs...I mean the Seven Drunken Farmers. If they weren't all a head shorter than me and had something other than sticks that looked like dried palm fronds as weapons, I would have been much more intimidated. We were outnumbered and they were hammered & passionate about their fight, but still. After some yelling in Spanish with our guide, the drunkest Dwarf and his disgusting pisco musk shoves Edwin and then slaps him hard across the face. I really want to ask them all "Who slaps?" but I don't know how to say that in Spanish and figure this isn't the time to be a smart ass (I later learned that
A Boy & His DogA Boy & His DogA Boy & His Dog

I mean...Un Niño y Su Madre y Su Gato, the Peruvian Version.
at least four protesters were killed throughout the strike directly by the police or by trying to elude them; also, the strikers would line up along the train tracks to prevent the most popular form of transportation to Aguas Calientes, which is the city at the base of Machu Picchu, on-and-off for several weeks). We submit to our defeat and head the opposite direction of where we want to go. After some back-tracking and thinking, we decide screw it, let's go the longer mountain route and start this trek already. This is supposed to be memorable in a positive way, right?

With the strikers unhappily below, we finally get to our desired starting point. Well, at least it will be smooth sailing from here...or not! Some more bs with the permits and soborno y falsedades and now WE ARE OFF!

Trekking with Anthony in the lead is great. He just charges on upward and keeps an amazingly fast-pace. The workout I am looking for. Seventeen kilometers later and we make it to Hatunchaca before sundown. A great feat with all set-backs considered. Plus, we have time to take in Llaqtapata, the ruins along the way, and learn about
Like Water for ChocolateLike Water for ChocolateLike Water for Chocolate

Where the newly fallen rain water meets the river.
the puma, condor, and snake, the Andean triology.

Up before dawn to watch the dew melt and start the hardest day. Today's itinerary of 2,800km to 4,215km and back down to 3,600km while covering 12 kilometers horizontally. Some toast & tea and off to the races. As we arrive to the peak, it presents crisp, thin air with an on-and-off drizzle, snowcapped peaks, and hills decorated with ancient Incan temples. It was the highest I have ever been! (Attorney's Note: It can be strongly disputed otherwise, but I will concede that technically, from a vertical distance from sea-level perspective, you are correct and that this said backdrop actually does resemble The Lord of the Rings, unlike that hazy 45-minute plunge we took there at undisclosed time & place and therefore, I digress.)

With the sun dipping quickly behind the hills, we make it to our camp at Pacaymayo. Dusk came and went, and the fog fell all around so nothing could be seen. No valley. No hills. No mountains. Not even faraway constellations for a gray view of our site. Just a black night. A true black night with the sounds of the nearby waterfall cutting into the
Walking through WaterWalking through WaterWalking through Water

Mental note: Never Wear Jorts! That should be a rule for all males and mine were rolled for river crossing only.
river below and the bugs trying to outdo each with much success.

Another early morning with the mist all around. We take a quick meal and start our descent of 1,300km. We cover our 18 kilometers for the day and arrive at our next campsite in Wiñaywayna. Taking in everything at Intipata was definitely memorable and edifying, but the highlight was probably running into the baby boy black bear at Sayaqmarka. I saw many signs suggesting bears roaming the paths, but did not expect to see one an arms length away playing in the ruins. By the way, where was his mom?

The last day and the Grand Prize, but before we get there we have a stop at Intipunku!

Where's that guitar that I don't know how to play? Somebody strum it: Am C D F E Am C D F E...

There are some ruins in Perú,
You can see from the Gate of the Sun,
It's known all over as Machu Picchu,
And there I'd known I'd won!

An hour straight down from here and we will be at Machu Picchu. I jump from rock to rock as I follow with Anthony
¿Dónde Está El Baño?¿Dónde Está El Baño?¿Dónde Está El Baño?

Right there on our cooks back even though nobody ever used it.
in the lead. He wants to get to the base before the other groups and I have no problem with this. Run. Jump. Step. Hop. Fuuuuuuuuuuck!!! I go down. Me and the extra 25 pounds on my back all on my left ankle. With the finish line in site, I take off my backpack and tighten my shoes. I think of how cold it is and know that could maybe keep the swelling down (or at least I tell myself that) and get back up. Another ankle roll and we arrive, but not alone. The fog rises to greet us and brings the rain & wind along. It continues to pick up as the morning turns into afternoon. Not quite the company I am looking for. The weather also causes the workers to close Waynapicchu so at least my ankle injury can not be blamed for me not getting up there. The ruins were incredible: Templo del Cóndor, Templo de las Tres Ventanas, Grupo de las Tres Portadas, and everything else!

Time to head back,
To the streets of cobble,
A la estación de autobus,
Where I shall hobble.

Can't find my itinerary,
But know it reads nada,
Or maybe al norte,
Voy a Oasis de Huacachina...


Additional photos below
Photos: 48, Displayed: 29


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Local Andean WomanLocal Andean Woman
Local Andean Woman

On her way home.
PacaymayoPacaymayo
Pacaymayo

Campsite numero uno.
PacaymayoPacaymayo
Pacaymayo

Not a bad view.
Pinching the NipplePinching the Nipple
Pinching the Nipple

Our guide said that is our motivation to get to the top as it seems kind of far.
Cheers Mate!Cheers Mate!
Cheers Mate!

I reckon we made it to the top...4,215 meters. I am so keen on that. That took heaps of steps. Good on ya! No worries! Sorry, got carried away with the Aussie expressions.


4th April 2009

Yay Casey!
Hi Casey! I loved the blog (though some of it was a bit esoteric) and I loved the pictures of Machu Picchu. Only the very young(or very foolish) get to have your experience of it, but what an incredible memory. Thanks for sharing it! I think it is time for you to come home now, don't you think so? Then we can all chat in person about these adventures!! Love, Aunt Jo
6th April 2009

Que suerte Casey!
Casey honey, you are so lucky to have the opportunity to walk the Inca Trail. Did you see any of the giant hummingbirds? No it was not an illusion they have 8" long hummers there found near the beginning of the trail and along the river. We miss you and hope you have a wonderful time in Nicaragua with your Mom! Love, Aunt DD

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