Inca Trail Day 3 - A celebration of UK New Year

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
On a campsite somewhere on the Inca Trail

Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Friday, December 31, 2010

It rained very heavily all through the night but as soon as it stopped I decided to get up out of bed and oddly enough ... go for a walk. I don't know what had come over me, it was probably about 5am the lady was fast asleep still. I think it was a combination of aching muscles I wanted to stretch and the pain of lying on my side on the stony campsite. Regardless I was very glad I had done it as the views were incredible. I tried to gently shake Erica but I nearly lost my hand, it was a bit like reaching through the cage at the zoo to wake a lion. It wasn’t long however till the celery tea was served and the bowls of warm water placed in front of our tent to wash. She didn’t have a choice then but was still not in the best of moods. Still we were all grateful that the hardest parts of the hike were out of the way and the altitude should now play less of a part as the descent should continue, making the knees the main point of pain.

We had another huge breakfast of porridge, omelette and toast before a brief session with the porters talking about ourselves and themselves through Bill’s translation. We got a couple of pictures and we were amazed by how old some of these guys were. They were basically all full time farmers with a few in their 50’s who worked as porters to subsidise their income during the low season when there was little to be done on the land. We headed off in the drizzle and rain to begin another climb but thankfully only a few hundred metres gained vertically on the 'royal path’ and therefore much easier to walk on than the paths we have been following for the last few days. We got a good explanation of the construction of the paths and how the white granite provided grip, but the stones and rocks were worn down to provide a level yet grippy surface for the Incans to run along. The paths were also supported by large retaining walls and you struggle to comprehend the work that went into these paths. Even the corners are banked / cambered slightly to offer assistance when running around the bends. We saw none of the other groups only porters that had set off very early who would run past us a little too close to the edge for comfort. As we approached the cloud village the rain had been relentless for the last hour and was starting to get very heavy. Whilst the other group’s porters were setting up for lunch we started our descent as predictably in the cloud village you couldn’t see anything but clouds still this was the beginning of the major descent and at 4,000m I think we were ready to start dropping back down. We were not expecting however to be so drawn to the next ruin at Puyupatamarca.

We could hardly see the ruin as we approached but could hear the noise of running water through the clouds. We were told that the water here was thought to provide eternal youth. We soon saw the sacrificial tables where both animal and human sacrifices were given to the Incan gods while there were chairs built into the table facing the other way. The terraces around the site provided an almost amphitheatre type effect, but it was probably the water falls in the ruins that captured our imagination the most. There must have been about 7 manmade bathing houses with a small waterfall in each to bath. Bill started telling us about how cold the water was and how the Incans on the way to Machu Picchu would cleanse their soles were by meditating under the freezing cold water until they were in a spiritually different place. He then started chanting and singing to show how the Incan’s built the whole place with acoustics in mind, with the mist and cloud clearing and reforming you could almost imagine this place up and running 400 – 500 years ago. After about 45 minutes admiring the place and seeing newer and older paths that have been found, along with Bill’s passion for wanting to find other ruins of which he is convinced many more exist (indeed one was found last year in the jungle that is thought to make Machu Picchu seem very very small).

Anyway another amazingly steep descent started, however at one point I spun to take a picture of the ruins and a humming bird flew straight at me then just hovered in front of me almost looking at me.  We maybe descended about 1.3km in height before finding a few other sets of ruins which Bill told us all about. We finally found camp at about 1pm which gave us time for a shower (what a luxury) before donning the dirty clothes having a short rest while the early birds from other groups arrived. We had afternoon tea at 4pm then headed for probably our greatest part of the whole Inca Trail (yes better than Machu Picchu). We took our most valuable possession carried for the last three days, two cartons of cheap red wine, and had probably about a one – two hour guided tour around the ruins of Winaywayna or Huinay Huayna. We then sat up above this amazing site completely on our own, drank our two litres of red wine, watched the sun set offering shades of reds over glaciers and mountains, a clear evening with the clouds below us. I passed around coca leaves to everyone and we placed some in some of the walls while Bill said some traditional Incan prayers to the Incan Gods. At 7pm we then wished each other a happy English New Year (note the Australian New Year was several hours before). It was completely pitch black but we all had our torches and made sure we cleaned up after ourselves and were greeted by our porters who had sent out not one but two search parties thinking we had got lost or something had happened. It was an awesome way to spend New Years Eve (well we knew we weren’t going to see the Peruvian New Year).We had our last supper another mammoth meal which was finished by a handmade cake, as the eldest of the group I had to cut it which seemed like such a waste "welcome to Machu Picchu" the decoration said. With firecrackers going off all around us we made a presentation to the porters of our tips (we were shamed by the Aussies into a much bigger tip than we could afford), but were still well short of their 200 each, still we made it up with a bag of coca leaves.  I did a short speech which Bill translated. We carried on drinking (getting more drunk) until about 10pm when we called it a night and staggered back to our tents. A lot of people were wearing yellow for New year I only had a pair of yellow socks (the Ethiopian Airlines ones- knew they would come in handy at some stage). It really didn’t take long to get to sleep the rain was torrential through the night, but we knew we could sleep till maybe 4:30am.
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mum on

Absolutely amazing. I can't believe Erica did this. Fantastic achievement for both of you.

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