Inca trail

Trip Start Feb 14, 2007
Trip End Jul 2007

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

when people say that machu pichu is one of the wonders of the world i think it is because when you are climbing your 10 000th step of the day you wonder if its worth it and whether you will ever make it, and then when you finally do you wonder why you complained so much about cold tents and somewhat unsanitary toilet facilities. i cant really believe that we did it (i am wondering if it was a dream) but i cant help feeling smug when i see postcards and t-shirts with machu pichu on them!

for the purposes of clarity and for both your sanity and mine i have decided to narate this by day:

DAY ONE: we met our GAP group in lima. in case anyone is confused, like we were, GAP does not in fact have anything to do with gap years. it stands for 'great adventure people' so we were suprised when only one other person out of 10 was under the age of 25... our group consisted of Anihita ('that's anighta not aneeta') and Emma from australia, Keri and Soula from canada, Joe (only other gap student), Rushita and Carol from england and Louis (who insisted we call him Louchito- a name his mummy probably called him 40+ years ago) from ecuador (which he reminded us of every time he spoke by comparing absolutely everything with Quito and Ecuador). quite a strange group of people...

DAY TWO: 3.30am wake up for an early flight to cusco. short meeting with our guide Ossy and then a free day. during the meeting Anihita complained of altitude sickness and proceeded to lie on the floor with her feet in the air.

DAY THREE: tour of the sacred valley, including a stop off at a GAP community project where the ladies of the village show you how they weave the colourful blankets that they carry anything and everything around on their backs in (children, young livestock, corn, fruit, lemon grass etc). we also saw some inca ruins and purchased plastic ponchos (basically bin liners with holes in), having been warned by our guide that the local women say that andean weather is 'like the promise from a man - never to be trusted' and the local men say that 'andean weather is like the tears of a woman - never to be trusted'. the waiter at lunch was definately only about 10 which was a bit strange. we have since come across quite a few underage stall holders too.

DAY FOUR: early bus to kilometer 82 where we passed through the first check point started the Inca trail. we had been given duffel bags to pack in cusco with the things that we would need for the trail, but all we had to carry ourselves was a day bag. GAP works with local communities and employs porters who carry the bags for you and the camping equiptment and food. they are such tiny little men and they can carry so much! it made me feel very pathetic and guilty panting away as we walked the trail when they all do it twice as fast as us and with all of our stuff. apparently before the regulations came in the porters used to carry up to 40kilos! the youngest porter working with GAP is 18 and the oldest is 63! absolutely amazing!
we had expected very basic food whilst we were camping, but we were definately wrong! we had such nice food, and they even set up a little table inside a tent and layed it for us and had fresh popcorn in the afternoons when we reached the campsites.
during the trip i discovered, or rather rediscovered, that i am not a very happy camper. if i had the choice i think i would not camp at all.

DAY FIVE:  we were woken in the morning with hot drinks, which was especially nice as the night had been very cold. we had been forewarned that the second day of the trek was the hardest and they didnt lie to us! the first day had been mostly up and down paths, where the inca steps had been worn away by people and animals but today they were back in force and we had to climb to the top of dead womans pass at 4200m. i dont think that the altitude affected me that much but i could feel it going up those steps - it makes you lose your breath faster and you have to stop and conciously breath for a while. one american woman from another group decided she couldnt make it (apparently through laziness) and a porter was sent back to carry her which i couldnt believe!
it was also quite tough because all the steps are different heights and shapes and so you have to concentrate everytime you move your feet so the day was mentally as well as physically exhausting but incredibly satisfying when we made it to the campsite.

DAY SIX: we had to walk through the high jungle rainforest which was very cool and we got to use our ponchos. our guide said that we looked like teletubbies but i think we looked like i line of multicoloured ghosts. i think the scenery today was the most beautiful, would have been nicer if we hadnt had to watch our feet so intensly!

DAY SEVEN: it had rained heavily all night and was still raining in the morning when we woke up at 4am to reach the sun gate and machu pichu before the sun rise. it was a little bit crazy how much everyone was rushing - there were queues of over a hundred people at the check point before it had even opened  at 5.30 and then a definate danger of being trampled if you stopped to rest in the middle of the narrow path. but we made it and the sun came out and we saw the lost city of machu pichu siting above the clouds. so 45km later we had arrived and it was quite a surreal experience really! we spent some time in the ruins and then headed back towards cusco, via the train obviously. of course the damn hotel had no lift and our room was on the third floor so we had one last set of stairs to climb before we reached our room and our shower and our clean clothes. we went out to supper together and me and gabbie tried guinea pig (a local delicacy) which i dont really recommend...

tomorrow, wednesday, is my birthday and we are flying early from cusco to lima and then from lima to san jose so i think we spend most of the day on planes which is a little sad but i wonder how many people can say that on their birthday they woke up in peru and fell asleep in costa rica?
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