Day 6 of 12 – Sacred Valley (including Urubamba River Valley, Písac ruins, Ollantaytambo, et al)
This day was a really happy day because for once, I didn’t have to “gotta go, gotta go, gotta gooooo” every 5 minutes. I forgot what commercial that jingle came from, but it involved bladder control and the lack of it. I always watched it and thought “That’s so dumb. That’ll never happen to me.” Never say never.
We drove around the Sacred Valley and had pit stops in a bunch of places to roam around and explore. First, we stopped by a small village where they showed us the different types of threading material (wool from alpaca, llama, guanaco), how they dyed and spun it into weavable threads, and of course…how to weave them into hats, scarves and finger puppets. Out of nowhere, I heard this futuristic ringtone coming from someone’s cell phone. One of the weavers abruptly stopped her weaving, pulled out her cell, and immediately turned it off as she smiled in embarrassment. Haha! So much for the simple life.
And, as we were meandering around, a baby llama passed gas.
Rebecca: “The baby llama farted! Aww, I don’t know why, but it’s so cute!”
James: “What if I farted?”
After the Písac ruins, we visited another area where we tried chicha (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented maize). It comes in regular corn and strawberry flavors. Sounds more nutritious than detrimental to me…
This place also had a guinea pig farm – a room full of squealing stubby things, with a rogue male trying to mate with every female. Guinea P-I-M-P. They also had a game where you attempted to throw gold coins into the froggy’s mouth. The coin could also land near the frog into one of the adjacent holes. At the end, you pull out a drawer to retrieve the coins, and wherever it landed, there was a certain amount of points awarded. I could play this game all day long. I could even just sit and watch other people play this game all day long, screaming “Come on froggy, froggy, froggy!!”
Ollantaytambo. I switched over to vertical photos, tetris style.
The view from my hotel bed was amazing – an Incan ruin above, and a bull aimlessly eating and shitting below. The night before, we were so impressed with our hotel. Crisp bedsheets, fluffy blankets, and a courtyard to relax and hang out. It was perfect luxury before we subjected ourselves to showerless days and infinite hiking on the Inca Trail. But as we were about to take our final showers, we looked up to see the ceiling speckled with black. Was it art? Was it normal staining?
Nope. Gnat infestation.
At first, there were maybe ten to fifteen of them chilling out by the bathroom light. Corrine thought it’d be a good idea to spray some of her 90% deet all over the ceiling and near the windows. Now, either deet encourages speed-of-lightning mating and birthing or, it’s a trumpet call for a televangelist congregation, because suddenly there were gnats everywheree. From the gnats and their immediate families, to their extended families times twenty. Corrine freaked out more and started fly-swatting with her flip flop.
“DIE! DIE!! Where are your friends at? Yea, they’re dead bitches.”
Days 7-10 of 12 – Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, and Aguas Calientes
So, before we booked this trip, I told my friends that I wouldn’t go to Peru unless we included the Inca Trail. Then, on the first day of hiking, I asked myself WHYY I thought this was a good idea. Oh, the irony! But not to worry – it was worth every gasp for air, every rain-drenched piece of clothing, every thigh-trembling bathroom visit, and every muttering of profanity. This time, I’m not being sarcastic.
Camping on the first night seemed easy. The amazing porters carried the majority of our stuff, set up our tents, placed buckets of water for hand and feet washing by the tents, made three course meals, popped popcorn and brewed tea and coffee for all of us. So much for roughing it, huh? After eating a marvelous dinner, we snacked on our popcorn and played Spanish rummy all night long.
That night, I went to the public bathroom to wash up, thinking everything would be harmless. Then, I turned the faucet to wash my hands. Twist, twist, POP! The faucet handle just burst off like a bullet, and a huge stream of water came shooting at me. When I say huge stream of water, I mean a stream thicker than that of a garden hose. My one of two pairs of jeans became completely soaked, and it pretty much never dried during the whole hot and humid trail.
I laughed it off, thinking ‘Hey, this would be a funny story to tell” only to wake up the next morning with a red visitor. Andddd, I will leave it at that. (I know, TMI but, it’s my blog and I can TMI if I want to…)
Hiking this trail disproved my belief that I was a decently fit person, haha! High altitude + thinner oxygen + rainy season = why the F did I do this again? Please note that if you ever wanted to quit this trail, the only way back is the way you came.
The second day of hiking was the most arduous. It was about four hours of continuous uphill climbing, then after reaching the dead woman’s pass at 13,779 feet, two to three hours of continuous downhill hiking. (Note: downhill hiking includes regular upright walking and, um, slipping on wet rocks and falling on ass.)
Rebecca, Tracy and I were the last of the pack to complete the hike, and Sal stayed behind to help us along. Once we reached the dead woman’s pass, we felt bad for keeping Sal behind and told him to just go ahead but, on one condition. Once he reached the second campsite, we told him to tell the other girls that we couldn’t survive and had to turn back. (Tsk tsk.) When we eventually made it to the campsite, the girls were, first, happy to see us, then angry with Sal for tricking them. But after he revealed that it was all our idea, they turned their anger to us 😛
“OMG! We were worried about you! We hate you!”
Sounds evil, but it was funnier in the moment. Anyway, the sight of the second campsite brought jollyness and constant thanking of deity.
Third day of hiking, the girls took their time to take photos and enjoy the scenery. You could tell Henry (our Inca Trail tour guide) was unhappy with that. Just how slow did we go? A butterfly landed on Anna small’s shoe, and we stayed still until it flew away.
The night before reaching our final destination, we thanked and tipped the awesome porters in our nifty dining tent. We woke up at 4am the next morning to catch the sunrise over Machu Picchu. Hard work paid off!
Truly amazing and unreal…that we were finally able to bathe that night.
It felt damn good to dunk my body into the hot springs at Aguas Calientes, with Wayna Picchu in the distance. Bob Marley blasting in the speakers totally completed the experience.
It also felt damn good to ride a moving vehicle – the train. We were on our way back to Cusco, enjoying the scenery outside the window. All of a sudden the lights dimmed and trance music blasted in the speakers. It was a fashion show. The weirdest fashion show I ever experienced, hands down.
As previously mentioned, we were up since 4am that morning, so we decided…why don’t we stay up for 24 hours! We went clubbing in Cusco, but being the old lady that I am (ha), I lasted until about 2am. 22 hours, not bad. Right?
Days 11 & 12 of 12 – back to Cusco and Lima
It was sad saying goodbye to everyone in the airport ::cue in Boyz II Men song:: In only two weeks, I felt like everyone was part of my family. And, my sappiness will cease flow right here.
Once Corrine, Tracy and I arrived at our hotel for our final day in Lima, we’ve never before shouted with so much joy over fluffy beds, a beautifully equipped bathroom, a hairdryer, and cable television. It turned out to be a perfect morning, until we asked the front desk for any places that offered paragliding. They gave us one number to call, and a British blonde lady came to pick us up in her semi-putt putt car. Um, SHADY?
I started imagining all these things that could happen to us. Brutal murder in a torture chamber, and the like. But she ended up driving us to the coast not too far away. (Phew!) Sadly, there wasn’t enough wind for us to go paragliding. SOB. We waited an hour before calling it quits, and tried to go visit a museum and more ruins (the original ruins we wanted to see on our first day, but the hotel lady circled the wrong place on the map). Once we got to the ruins, we found out it closed not too long before. Great, we missed two things.
So, we spent the night in a very non-Peruvian way…at Starbucks. So what? It was still awesome.