Welcome to the jungle......we got fun and games..

Trip Start Mar 30, 2010
Trip End Dec 13, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hostel Tequila

Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Thursday, April 15, 2010

  I am up a little early this morning, considering that i didn't get back into Cuzco until 2 am.  The last few days have been filled with all kinds of excitement.  I have more photos to post than I know what to do with, although internet speed limitations may only have me posting a few of the best one. Where to begin......

     Monday morning i was up at 6 am.  I was going to get picked up by the tour company provider in front of the church at San Blas, only a 2 min walk from the apartment.  I was booked to do what they call the Inca jungle trek.  It is a 4 day 3 night excursion starting on mountain bikes high up in the mountains, then walking the original Inca trail.  When I arrived at the church, there was a girl with a clipboard waiting for me.  Nice, just toss my backpack in the bus then I could rest for the next few hours until at the top of the mountain to start our ride.  Wrong!  No bus, we had to walk across town to get to a different company`s office.   I think many of the tour agencies all pool together doing this tour, because it is offered just about everywhere.    When we arrived at the departure location, there was a bus with 8 mountain bikes on top of it, and a small group of people also waiting to start their adventure as well.  2 Kiwis, 2 other Canadians, and a German fellow.  Once on the bus, we all introduced our selves.  It was nice to be a small group, that way we could all get to know each other, and also as we would find out, move faster than the other groups.

   After a 2 and a half hour drive up the side of a mountain, we reached our target altitude of 4760 meters.  It was crazy up there.  I felt like we were in a completely different country with the change of geography.  Towering over us was a huge snow capped mountain, and just beyond the ridge to head down the other side, you could see the clouds roughly 1 km below us. After we chose our bikes, which had defintely seen their fair share of abuse, off we went.  A three hour decent of over 3400 meters, which was nice because you rarely had to pedal, unless you wanted to gain some speed.  It was quite cold at the top of the mountain, but we were instructed to wear bathing suits because we would be riding through many little waterfalls.  The whole ride was a series of S bends making it's way down the mountain.  After a half hour, came my favorite part, riding through the clouds.  I felt like the kid from the movie ET up in the sky, it was a little surreal.  All I needed was a little alien.  Tim, the german fellow and I were having mini races cutting corners blind, a crazy rush.  It was a fairly quiet road, and you could see far enough ahead to know if it was clear.  I must say that this is by far, one of the coolest experiences I have ever had.

   Three hours later, our ride finished on a dirt packed road that looked partcially bombed out.  Some places while riding close to the edge, there was literally a 1000 foot drop, with not so much as a blade of grass to grab on to if you went over.  There were some transport drivers driving rigs up these steep, waterfall covered roads.  I woulld not want their jobs. We dismounted our bikes and walked a small Incan ruin with out guide Edwin, nice guy but his tour guide skills were certainly lacking.  You could tell everything he told us was completly rehersed from a book.  Even though our bike ride was 98 % downhill, it still took a toll on the body.  To reward ourselves, we had a few frothy beers before our hour and half ride along the bombed out road to our hostel.

  At our gas station/hostel in Santa Maria, we unloaded our gear and rested before dinner.  Edwin had informed us that there was a soccer field behind the building and that we would be able to play against other jungle trek groups.  Let me take this moment to explain something.  If in Peru, you must ALWAYS specify exactly what you want or ask questions.  The soccer field was a concrete pad, that doubled as a basketball court.  There, we met people from the other groups.  It ended up being an international soccer game, swedes, american, germans, kiwis, canadians, you name... we had it. We played barefoot and numbers began to twindle as people would gouge their feet on rocks.  Was good fun, but playing up high in the mountains takes its toll on you.

   The follow morning was going to be the first real day of exercise. We were up at 6, breakfast at 630, and 7 hours of walking starting at 7 am.  It started off raining, I wasn't sure if this was a good idea of heading off into the jungle with someone who hardly speaking english, looks poorly prepared if anything should happen in heavy rain.  But what other choice did i have.  Luckily not long into our walk the rain eased up.  We started taking a dirt road that got gradually worse the farther we went.  For those of you who don't know, Peru had some of the worst flooding it had in a decade this January, closing many of the path and roads to Machu Picchu.  It's easy to see why too, all the trails are through narrow valleys where all the rain water is channeled.  We walked paths at some points that were only 10 inches wide, with 500 feet drops to a river below.  Not a place you want to lose your footing.   Along our walk, Edwin was showing us the countless number of plants and vegetables that can be found in the jungle.  Chocolate, coffee, potatoes(which i found out originated in Peru), banana, avocados, corn, the list keeps going.  At one point , Edwin used this red coloured plant to paint our faces, he said it was Puma repeliant.  ummm....ok????

    After a step climb out of the basin of the valley, we took our first break at a place called the monkey bar.  A little shack in the middle of nowhere on the side of a hill, set up for tourist rest area.  Of course, they had the minimum requirement monkey there, but what ended up stealing the show was a large beaver like animal, they called jungle guinea pig, drinking gatorade right out of the bottle.  Everyone gathered around with their cameras to take a pic.  You wouldn't have believed it unless you saw it. 

     A short walk from our break area, we reached a cliff area that were small steps along a sheer drop off.  It was amazing and scary all at the same time.  Our guide let us go ahead and do it on our own.  I lead, not really able to enjoy it at first because of the height factor, but got used to it fairly quickly.   It was the trail used by Incan messengers relaying messages through out the empire.  They would run these trails that I was having a hard time putting along.  Brave buggers.

    To end our second day, we had a 3 hour walk along a road that took us into the town of Santa Theresa.  A small town tucked away in the sacred valley.  Not exactly 5 star quality lodging, and cold enough showers to suit a polar bear, but it did just fine.  After a few victory beers with the fellow hikers, a volleyball game broke out on the main strip.  It was a group of young girls ranging from 5 to 12, and our trek group.  Those little girls were actually rather impressive considering their age.  The game got rather heated and a crowd starting forming.  I guess we were the only source of entertainment in this little town.  It was hilarious.  By the end of it, we were clearly the talk of the town, and further more, the coolest of the trek groups passing through.  That was a blast, and having fun with the kids was a highlight on everyones list.  

  Our third day was somewhat uneventful.  It would be mostly walking along railroad tracks and getting us to Aguas Caliente.  We would have to be there early, since the next morning we would have to be up at 3 am to prepare for the trek up the mountain to Machu.  Our plan was to be there for sunrise. 

    Waking up at 3 am, we were all a little groggy from our 3 previous days of trekking.  But today was for our goal, Machu Picchu.  Our guide Edwin was unable to join us on our trek up the mountain due to the fact that he had to make his way back to Cusco.  It was completely pitch black climing that mountain.  Nobody had informed us that we were supposed to bring flashlights on this adventure.  Luckily, Pat and Emma the fellow Canadians, had brought their ipods.  Not exactly sufficient lighting for 6 people in complete darkness, but better than nothing.  At one point, i slipped and smashed my knee, further slowing down my climb.  Once at the top, we had to wait for it to open.  It was foggy and visibility was hardly 100 feet at points.  Great.  I finally made it here and won't be able to see a damn thing, i thought.  We stuck around for several hours in hopes that it would clear.  Then, out of nowhere, the fog lifted.  There it was.  Machu Picchu.  I had waited a long time to see it.  I was not dissapointed.  However I must say, the trek there was almost more fun, than the sight of itself.

   I very much enjoyed doing the trek and recommend it to any able bodied people that head to Peru.  Having great company made it that much better.  Back to Cusco for my final day before moving on to Lima and then Brazil, the longest visit on my trip.  Thanks again all for reading.  I hope this all made sense due to the lack of time to proof read!!  So much has been happening as of late it's almost hard to keep up....
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Jes on

Awesome Matt!

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