Trek day 2

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Swim shorts on, tennis trainers and socks soaking wet and an 8 hour hike to complete.  I'm raring to go, namely because I still need to at least attempt to make this look easy, when in reality I'm clearly the most ill prepared traveler since I "lost" my passport in my bedside drawer in Russia.  What could possibly go wrong?

My dad did the West Highland Way a number of years ago, and was a big fan of strapping on the boots and getting out into the country.  It rubbed off on me, and I used to enjoy putting one foot in front of the other in the Dales and Lake District.  In later years I've become fat and lazy, and I'd take a taxi to a fish and chip shop.  I'm therefore slightly concerned I'm going to have a heart attack two hours in.  The scariest thing which is on my mind as we get underway however, is the promise of hot springs at the end of the route.  Lots of people with their shirts off.  I let it fester and consume me for the whole day.

The group dynamic is opening up, as we affectionately christen the Dutch girls Fe, Fi, Fo and Fum.  Of course they don't know this at the time for fear of getting the crap beaten out of us, but hopefully they would find it endearing.  Apparently the Dutch are the second largest nation on earth in terms of people size.  A land of giants.  Collectively they become known as The Schwaffeli.  Schwaffeling (if that is the correct spelling) is a term I learned from a Dutch friend back in Guatemala.  It refers to wiping ones penis on anything or anyone.  I'm sure they were very pleased with the label, and at least now we're some distance from getting a doing. 

The two Germans appear to be enjoying our company, which bodes well for us both probably making a move later on.  We also have nicknamed them Frauline Eins and Zwei.  Paddy contemplates the Israeli mother and daughter combo, but has also taken a shine to pretty much any attractive girl in the group.  He's keeping his options open, which doesn't wash with me, as I'm trying to deflect his admiration for the girl I'm interested in.  We've given up vetoing over girls, which could prove a problem when we totally cock block each other over the course of the weekend.  I decide to make a play early.

The walk is wonderful, the scenery stunning and the spirits high.  I'm rarely without a smile on my face or ringing out my hideously loud laugh.  The only dark cloud on the horizon is the thermal baths, which loom ever closer.  I try my best not to think about it, but make a mental note force myself into a gym sometime soon.

The Inca trails stretch through the mountains all around Cusco.  You get the impression that anyone could stick a sign up next to a path and suck in tourists.  Regardless if this is legitimate or not, it's still a stunning trek, with the occasional hint of authenticity.  We reach an old shelter which message runners would have used, stationed high in the hills, which they would sprint from and to, delivering information and news.  You have to tip your hat to their fitness, making me feel like a sham with my wheezing up to the top.  I thought I would be nervous with the height too, but was relieved and elated to find I took it all literally in my stride.  It was exhilarating.  I need to do more of this.  Especially with the ratio of girls to boys.  Paddy suggests we just keep doing this trek for the rest of the year.

At a rest point up the mountain I finally spot my first monkey.  It appears to be the pet of the lady dishing out refreshments, and it wastes no time in stealing my insect repellent which it precedes to suck on.  I'm desperately trying to get it back off the little blighter, but he's showing me sharp teeth while leaping away.  Of course I've seen Outbreak, so I'm not inclined to tangle with it, most likely contracting a hideously dilapidating disease that melts my face.  Luckily the owner comes to the rescue before I've poisoned him, but no sooner than I recover the bottle, is he opening my short pockets to see what else he can nick.  He should be behind bars.

I'm pondering many a thing as we file up every higher into the jungle, but one notion that crosses my mind is how cool it would be to use my tubular stretch bandage to come to the aid of a beautiful girl.  Then as if on cue, Frau line Eins sprains her ankle, giving me a perfect opportunity to be a hero.  As obviously upsetting and horrible it is for the poor girl, I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy wrapping the bandage round her foot.  That doesn't sound right, but you know what I mean.  Of course I'm desperately trying to display my first aid skills, completely forgetting she's a physiotherapist.  She lets me fumble away however, so it was maybe a decent sign that I was in with a chance.  If I wasn't I'd be pissed that I gave away a good bandage.

The light is fading as we make the decent to the hot springs, which I firmly decide I'm not doing.  Instead I spend the two hours drinking large bottles of beer, which once again isn't a good idea.  That is until I'm joined by the two German girls, who 'got bored' in the baths.  We continue drinking in the nearby town of Santa Teresa, which will be our base for the evening.  There is a big festival kicking off for mothers day, and the streets are alive with drunken revelers, children and musicians.  Women are sauced off their faces carrying babies on their backs.  It's unusual to say the least.  Paddy, myself and the Frauleins are chuckling away at the - shall we say 'unique' appearance of many of the locals, whose already strange Inca heads are contorted with booze.  Several party goers request pictures with the gringos, and the Germans occasionally need rescuing from the inebriated advances of would be suitors.  This I'm all to happy to do.  Then Frauline Eins asks who I like on the trek.

I'm not one for beating around the bush, so I look her in the eye and command my response;


It's quite nice that she doesn't believe me, but smiles back, her beautiful eyes shining in the street light.  It's going to be an interesting couple of days.  Oh and Machu Picchu.

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