Back roads to the lost city....

Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
Trip End Apr 08, 2008

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Back in Cuzco after our journey to Machu Picchu...and a few other places....Lets start from the beginning...
We meet our guide, Angel, and although he's not the guide we were hoping for, he seems sweet, and anyway he's there.  We mostly drive today...with this sincerely crazy driver, Guiame, who gleefully rips his way in, around, and through the mountains.  I'm not feeling particularly safe with this guy...he cuts all the curves and keeps his speed up to the max possible, actually beyond the max possible, considering the circumstances.  Because these roads twist and turn and suddenly have rocks that have avalanched down from the steep cliffs above and, needless to say, the view is spectacular because looking down attests to the fact that we are driving somewhere along a cut in the sideslope of a radically steep mountainside.  So this guy swerves and sways his way through the mountains.  Angel, our "guide", must've had a hard night because he sleeps the whole way with his head snapping back and forth with each sharp curve.  Not even the cloud forest slows Guiame's cool to be up there...can't see much but clouds tucked into the crevices and obscuring the peaks...and also obscuring the road...which only seems to add to the glee of Guiame. 
We arrive at Santa Maria for a little lunch...the menu del dia which always includes a soup, rice, potatoes and more potatos, and a little meat of some sort, maybe some smashed paper-thin chicken, or some scraps of tightly woven beef that work your jaws.  But the soups are great...this is not a luxury tour lunch but completely delightful just the same...
After lunch it appears that we are able to go no avalanche has blocked the road to Santa Teresa, our final destination for the day.  From what I can discern from the movement and the Spanish circling around, there is an alternate route, but our driver refuses to take it...which does not bode well for this alternate route.  But Angel searches out another driver and another vehicle and a group of us piles into a minivan and we're off.  And this ride is even wilder than the first....not because of the driver - he's being careful and I trust his ability as much as I'd trust anybody on this road....but I swear we're driving on an ATV has barely enough room for our width...of course there are no guard rails, rock borders, or even trees to slow our tumble down the mountainsides...but again, the view is magnificent...straight down....
We spend a few hours adventuring up, up, up and down, down, down, arriving at Santa Teresa in decent shape.  A delightful soak in the hot spring waters along the river...imbedded in among the sharply rising mountains...pretty blissful...time to rest up for tomorrow's hike through the rainforest...getting closer to Machu Picchu...
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