As you may have gathered from the photos in my last post, I have been reunited with my iPad card reader. (Thank you Nicole for FedEx’ing it to me). We’ve been on the go since our trek, with limited access to WiFi, so it’s going to take a while to catch up on blog posts, though I’m getting faster with one finger typing. I haven’t yet figured out how to place photos within the text, so for now they will all be placed at the end.
Now comes the wonderful part of the trek.
Though we saw stars before bed, it rained much of the night and it was still raining in the morning. I slept until the first rooster crowed, then drifted back to sleep. I was deep in dreamland when my Coca de Matte tea was delivered shortly after first light, around 6:00 a.m.
My belongings were just as damp as the day before, so I put my feet in plastic bags before putting on my boots in a feable attempt to keep my feet dry. We had a cramped breakfast in Costina’s home/shop, then pulled on our wet gloves and headed into the rain.
Fortunately our trail was mostly downhill and not too steep. I can keep up with Karen and Joanne on level ground or downhill, but on the uphill stretches they left me in the dust, or in this case, mud. We only hiked for about four hours. When we reached Colcapampa, we were happy to see a table set out for us on a second floor deck – the perfect spot to spend a leisurely afternoon. After lunch, with a delicious tarwi ceviche (lupine beans), we purchased a bottle of Pisco, a local beverage made from grapes with 2-3 times the alcohol content of wine. The cook fixed us a Peruvian version of hot toddies, perfect for the cool weather. We chatted with Carlos and learned more about his life growing up in a small village; his first language is Quecha, the language of the Inka’s. I also talked with an Aussie traveling with another group and grilled him with questions about Oz, making notes for a future trip. When the sun came out in mid-afternoon, we laid our wet clothes on a tin roof, but there wasn’t enough daylight left to dry them out.
We were unanimous in our decision to skip Llactapata, a mountain that would have provided a distant view of Machu Picchu. It would have been steeper and muddier that our trail over the pass. Instead, we hiked about 8-9 miles downhill, now in a tropical forest with butterflies flitting about. The sun was shining and we quickly got down to one layer. ( Hard to believe we were worried about frostbite two days ago).
When we reached La Playa, we ate lunch then took a van to the hot springs just past Santa Teresa. On the way we stopped for a tour of a small coffee plantation. Freddy showed us different type of plants and explained how the bananas and buckeyes shade them; Carlos neglected to translate some of his obviously dirty jokes. We then participated in the process of coffee making, from picking the red berries to drinking the coffee. Karen and Joanne were in caffeine bliss.
I closed my eyes a few times as our drive continued, trying not to notice how close to the edge we were in spots. When we reached the hot springs, we had a luxurious soak while our crew set up camp. Afterward we sat at tables set out by the ever present vendors and enjoyed Cosquena, a local beer, while listening to the river.
After breakfast, porridge and yucca today, we got back in the van and headed out for zip-lining, a new experience for me but not my travel companions. We had been looking forward to a hike-free day, but once we geared up, we headed up a steep hill to reach the first of six zip lines. I was pretty nervous for the first two. After that, the view back and forth across the river and tree canopy was mesmerizing enough for me to suspend my fear. Karen was brave or crazy enough to hang upside down on one segment. I finally figured out how to take a movie in motion, so there may be a short video in my slide show.
Another van took us down to Hidroelectric, a way-stop that’s just what it sounds like, a hydroelectric plant that provides electricity to much of Peru. The ride down the narrow mountain road was as scary as the zip-line. We had lunch on a deck shared by other tour groups. We nixed our initial plan to walk to Aguas Calientes and instead enjoyed cold beverages while waiting for the train. The Vistadome was very comfortable and provided us with nice views of the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu.
While Carlos found an open laundry service for us, we took the showers we had been fantasizing about. If it weren’t for the trek t-shirt, I wouldn’t have had anything clean to wear to dinner. When I got back from dropping off our laundry (3 soles/kilo), Nancy had arrived. Nancy is my best friend from high school and we’ve kept in touch all these years. She arrived in Cusco yesterday, took a half day city tour, and then toured the Sacred Valley on her way to joining us in Aguas Calientes. We went to dinner with Carlos. My avocado vinaigrette and Pisco Sour were the best I’ve had yet.