Lima, Cusco and Ollantaytambo

Trip Start Oct 01, 2009
Trip End Oct 27, 2009

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

OK it's 5:15am and I have Dee in my face telling me it is time to get up!!!  Oh my god I am thinking, why is she waking me up after only 2 hours sleep.  "Dee, it's 5:15, why are we getting up so early?"  Dee's response was that it was 6:15 and we needed to be down at breakfast in a short while, I was dazed and confused but pretty sure it was only 5:15 and Dee had got her time wrong! but it was possible that I was wrong given the time difference between Peru and the UK, I went with Dee and got up, took a shower and prepared my day pack for the trip ahead.  The first shock of the trip was the water coming out the tap was yellow, what the hell is that all about!!!  We had been told to fill our platypuses with treated water as the water was unsafe to drink out of the tap, I think the colour gave that away, I figured that I had come all this way and yellow water would be something I needed to get used to, so filled the pack, treated it with droplets and hoped for the best.

We then made it down to breakfast and the first thing I did was find a clock, the sense of pride came over me when it only said 5:50....  I was right, Dee had deprived me of an hour in bed, now there was 2 choices, anger or the ability to gloat, I took the later option, and it felt good.

Now off for flight 3, Lima to Cusco, this would be a short flight but with truly amazing views of the Andes, it was like flying over another world, so different to any mountain range I had seen, there was a carpet of colours, reds, browns, greens, organges along with the snow capped mountains, truly amazing.  This was my first peek of where I would be spending my next 9 days, where I would live in a tent and where I would challenge my fear of heights.

From the seat in front I hear Jenny (our expedition leader) say "this is why we are here, truly amazing", I had to agree, the excitement was building and I knew I was just about to have the time of my life.

My first view of Cusco came after an hour in to the flight as we flew over the peak of a mountain, there was a large expanse of buildings, blending in to the reddy brown mountains surrounding it, we circled round before our sharp descent.  I kept thinking this is going to be amazing!  As the plane came in to land I noticed some locals washing their clothes in a river and some children playing on the banks, wow I thought this really is going to be a culture shock!

After we had landed I had my first experience of high altitude, we were now at 3,300 meters, the plane doors opened and my ears popped, my nose felt like I had just been punched and I felt like I had just downed 5 pints of strong lager, "oh my god" I thought how the hell was I going to handle trekking in the mountains if I can't even deal with the airport.  I made my way off the plane, trying my best to walk sober, like a drunk man that didn't want to admit having one too many, however not a drop of alcohol had passed my lips, I smiled to myself as I thought about how funny I must have looked.

I arrived at the baggage reclaim to find free oxygen, I took three long breaths and amazingly I felt fine within seconds.

We headed off to Cusco for a short stop and a cup of coca tea, this stuff is great and I highly suggest anyone going to altitude take advantage of it healing properties.  From Cusco we headed by coach to the sacred valley and a town called Ollantaytambo, on route we witnessed many different sights, so far from the sights of the UK, so far removed from anything I was used to.

From the coach I watched a procession go past celebrating St Christoph, this was a colourful display of blues, reds and whites, accompanied by a brass band.  Next I watched a group of children and women laying out coloured petals on the ground, creating a blanket of colour over the top of the dusty roads.  The feeling was overwhelming, everywhere I looked there was something new, something amazing, from shanty towns made out of adobe bricks (red mud bricks) to women dressed in old fashioned style dresses and peruvian hats.

We stopped for a quick toilet break just outside URubamba on the side of a mountain, from here we got our first view of the Veronica glacier, a sight that was to become familiar over the coming days but for now it was new and magnificent.  I was busting for the loo so went inside what appeared to be someones house, I paid a small boy (around 6 years old) 1 sol (20p) to use the toilet, it was dark, dirty and for a few locals, home.  When I came out of the toilet I noticed a small girl on the floor, hiding under a table, she must have been less than 2 years old, she was dirty and gorgeous, it was so humbling, she stole my heart there and then.  How different we all are, we are all human but we are not the same, we fail to have the same values in life and it was now very clear to me that this was not just a trek, this was going to be very different, it was going to be a wake up call.

We left the toilet stop and followed a winding road through the town of URubamba on to Ollantaytambo, where we had a our final stop before our first trek.  The town of Ollantaytambo was beautiful, the streets were cobbled, the sun was shining and it was all set with the backdrop of inca ruins.  We will be visiting the ruins and the town tomorrow so I will go in to more detail in my blog then.

Finally we jumped on the coach for a further 10 minutes before being dropped off at the side of the road to start our 1 1/2 hour trek up to Cachicata, our first nights camping.  The trek was steep and a small taste of what would be ahead of us.  The path was attractive, running past village houses, small farm buildings and amazing mountain views, the air felt clean and most of all, life felt good.

My first view of the tents came when one of the group shouted out, "there's home" as they pointed to some small yellow dots in the distance, we were all buzzed, it had been a long day and sleep had been lacking over the last few days, those little yellow dots could have been the Hilton, all I could think of was sleep, sleep and sleep.

We arrived at camp and were quickly told to select a tent, get our bags ready for the following days trek and then meet for dinner in 15 minutes.  Dee and I selected our tent that was perched on a terrace high on the mountain side, this camp was to be our last taste of luxury for a few days, it had a dining room and 2 flushing toilets, no big deal you're thinking but believe me these things would soon be a long distant memory.

Finally after a meal that I cannot remember due to tiredness it was off to be at 8:30pm, my first night in a tent in Peru, the first night of my real adventure.
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