Machu Piccu Trek Days 1 and 2
Today was the first day of the trek and to say it was brutal would be a dramatic understatement! The first part was biking.
They drove us to our highest point of the trek and we biked for 2 hours through the snow-capped Andes mountains. It was pretty damn cold but the amazing views made up for it. I had to keep reminding myself to keep my eyes on the road instead of the scenery so I didn´t eat it over the side of a cliff. We were on a main mountain road, so we had to move over for busses and cars, but it was pretty safe. We stopped for lunch at this shitty little shack after about 2 hours of biking. The toilet was a hole in the ground in an outhouse and our lunch was a piece of bread and cheese, an apple, a chocolate bar, juice box and a powerade. Nothing special but shitty fuel is better than no fuel.
Then it was time for the dirt path. There was an uphill and a downhill portion of off-roading and it was nuts. I felt like my knees were on fire and my ass hurt so bad from the bike seat, I felt like I´d been violated.
Finally, we got to our hostel and picked our rooms. There were only 3 or 4 beds to a room so we roomed with a cool Canadian couple. After biking they gave us an option of either staying in the hostel and relaxing or going white water rafting. We were tired but could not pass up the opportunity. We were the only two of the whole 20 person group who opted to go and I´m so glad we did cause it was awesome! There were 3-3.5 rapids and we were soaked. Our guide was super cool and taught us how to do tricks in the raft. He gave us the option to ¨body surf¨ the rapids and we said yes before he even explained what it meant. At this one part in the rapids, the water makes a really intese hole type shape in the wake, similar to the trough of an ocean wave and we had to paddle really hard toward the hole and on his cue we were to jump out of the raft and hang onto this rope with an arm. Kind of hard to expain but it was great. As I jumped I had a sudden epiphany of what a dumbass I am. Here I have 3 more intense days of hiking ahead of me and I risk getting really, unnecessarily, beat-up by jumping into rocky, fast-moving rapids. I´m not the brightest crayon in the box but it was awesome. I got a little banged up on the rocks but war-wounds are always acceptable.
When we were through, I shivered all the way back to the hostel, changed and went with the group to grub down. It was a satisfying meal but nothin special. Then we headed back to the hostel to get some sleep for the long day ahead of us... this was easier said than done...even with ear plugs in.
The chatty girls in the next room over would not shut the hell up, so I had to listen to their loud, pointless conversation for 2 hours. Then about 1 am this rabid dog started incessantly barking... I mean, he did not take a breath! I even contemplated riffling through my bag to get a granola bar just to throw at him in hopes of him shutting up for just a second! Finally the dog grew hoarse and my prayers of sleep were answered... only for the next hour or so though until this damn rooster started cock-a-doodle-dooing at 4 am! He didnt shut up til it was time for us to wake up at 630. We got up, with no shower (because there was no running h20) and went down to breakfast on our second day of hiking and I ran into that rooster on my way. I was really tempted to kick him in the face but we had a nice chat about politeness instead.
We had a nice breakfast (chocolate pancake, tea, coffee, and fruit) before we set out for the 2nd day of trekking. This was the 18 mile day and by far the hardest! My ass hurt so bad from the day before I could barely sit down and my knees felt like jello (this was all before starting the 2nd day).
The first two hours were intense up hill climbing and I literally wanted to hurl myself off the side of the mountain. I didn´t sign up for this shit. When I paid money to go on a ¨jungle trek¨, I was thinking more along the lines of a jungle stroll or perhaps a promenade. That is not what I got!
Wheezing my way up the mountain, we finally got to this remote cottage looking villa called ¨The Monkey House¨, most likely because of the monkey living there.
He was a cool little dude. He kept jumping on my head trying to steal my head band.
There was also this giant gerbal looking creature called a Picarro who drank gatorade from a bottle. He was also a sight to see.
There were puppies and kittens running around too. One particular kitten took a liking to me and curled up in my lap for a cat nap.
The house that we stopped at was the home of some all-natural agricultural farmers whose main crops were cocoa, coca, and coffee.
Our guide taught us all about the processing of the coffee bean and we got to sample some of their home grown... delicioso! They taught us about the cocoa plant and we tasted some 100% cocoa that they had made... some of the most bitter, disgusting ¨chocolate¨ever. He told us all about the coca leaves, their origin and the government probelems they having regulating the buying and selling of the plants. The farmers go through a lot of crap so the government can make sure that it is not going to cocain manufacturers. He also taught us about this plant, whose name slips my mind, it looks fuzzy on the outside and when you break it open it has a bunch of little red seeds inside. The red seeds contain a type of dye that is actually used in a lot of cosmetics, hair dye and dye for textiles. Our guide broke it apart and used it to paint our faces.
Max got a heart on both cheeks and a line down the middle.
I got two classy football stripes under my eyes.
After our much-needed break, we were back to hiking and hating life again. Not much to say.. great exercise...lots of sweat..great views...lots of pain..not enough agua.
Then we finally got to the highest point of our hike. Our guide stopped us, broke open a bag of coca leaves and told us each to pick three full leaves. He lead us in a traditional ancient inkan ritual where you held the leaves up to different coordinates around the mountain and recited the name of the mountain which was supossed to be praying for protection during our journey. When we were done he threw the leaves in a little fire.
We went on with our hike again, still very aware of my blisters, until lunch. We stopped at this little hut in the middle of no where and this local family prepared a heavenly meal for us. We had a chicken salad type appitizer, a traditional peruvian soup, chicken with potatoes and veggies and jello for dessert. Everything was great!
More hiking..more wanting to die...more lovely scenery.
Finally our hostal! There IS a God!!!
We got in and got settled and took a much needed shower.. no warm h20, but at least there was h20. As I laid down before dinner and started to write in my dear ol journal, I realized, suddenly, that I was not alone.. Actually I was surrounded, military style, by ants. They were taking over and I was their prisoner. I understand the strategy of power in numbers so I try a counter attack with my only weapon- 100% Deet. I sprayed the crack they seemed to be living in and I thought I was taking back control. Boy, was I wrong. I just pissed them off and they came at me with full force... .ants everywhere! I went and asked our guide if he had any bug spray, but when he came to look at the situation, he told me that there was just too many of them and that I would have to switch hostels to one down the street because ours was booked.... ok... the ants have won this round.
I decided to wait til after dinner to switch rooms. Dinner was great. Soup (peruvians always eat soup), guacamole and traditional Peruvian chicken. Delicious... until..my tummy started rumbling... I had to make a break for the bathroom and up came all that yummy food. I didnt know if it was the exertion of the day, altitude sickness, or a bug, but it was not good. I left dinner to switch hostels to this crap hole down the street. The lady who managed it was a total bitch, obviously pissed that she had to shell out another room to a different guides group and I am barely holding it together as she gives me my keys, trying not to puke on her scowling face. From dinner at 7 til about 10 I threw up about 7 times. Since there were shared bathrooms in this hostel, I was mortified and felt like everyone could hear me puking up a lung. This was actually true. The manager did hear me. She asked me if i was ok and if i needed medicine. She didnt speak a word of English and at this point, Im not even trying to speak spanish. I asked her if she had medicine for sale and she said ¨Si, Doctor¨. I didn´t want to see a doctor, just some Pepto or something. ¨No, no doctor¨I replied. We went back and forth like this for about 3 mintues until she pointed me in the direction of, what I thought was, a pharmacy. When I arrived, looking green and haggard, I found out that by ¨Pharmacy¨she meant ¨Doctor¨. Ok.. I give up. Doctor it is. I found out that through some of the delicious food I´d been consuming, I´d contracted a parasite that had caused an infection in my stomache and given me a fever. They gave me pills upon pills and sent me to bed with warm tea.