Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tales from Peru - The Beginning

In case you didn't know, it was not just Toby, Jesse, and me on this trip, but Shay and Lindz were there too. Shay does not know a stranger, so we met lots of interesting people along the way. Also he is Mr Gadget with computer/phone stuff. He had some sort of battery that he carried in his pocket that kept his phone charged.  Lots of times he had wires dangling out of his pockets tripping him up. He had some sort of app (google trak, I think) that recorded our steps - how many miles, the altitude, etc, and posted pics in the places the pics were taken. It was very cool and everyone was impressed.

The following pics are not mine, but were borrowed from Google Images - thanks to those who took them and did not have their cameras stolen.

Back to the story:
We arrived in Cusco, Peru, at about 8:00AM. Other than a few cat naps on the plane, we had been up for over 24 hours. We did have a longer lay-over in Lima waiting on our flight to Cusco where we were able to stretch out on some chairs and sleep for an hour. We woke up to a huge room full of people staring at us wanting to sit in the seats we were taking up. We obliged them.

Cusco was a beautiful mountain city with cool weather.  We stayed at the Loki Hostal, because we had booked our four day trek through Loki Travel and thought it would be easier to spend the night there and be ready the next morning for the trek. It worked great. Loki is a typical backpacker hostal with lots of young people staying there. Toby and I were ancient compared to the kids there. It is a party hostal. Fortunately, we were in a dorm room with a semi-private bath and away from much of the party noise.  The beds were comfy and the bath was nice. The food was excellent - they provided a continental breakfast free, but served other food too. That evening they started grilling all sorts of meats and veggies. The smell was awesome as was the food.  After supper, we went to a meeting with the guides and other people taking the four day trek. I'm sure we were all sizing each other up. Those kids were probably thinking, "The fat mama will never make it and will surely slow us down." I was thinking, "I can handle this group."  The group consisted of three Canadians (two girls and a guy who did kick butt on the trekking) two Chileans (Joel and Danit. We called her the Inca Princess) Two Brits (Kathryn and Pete - not a couple, but good friends traveling together) our two guides, Verjilio (sp?) and MaNu and of course the five of us.

Sunday morning at 6:30 we loaded into a van with bicycles stacked on the top and drove way up in the mountains - I'm talking about high Andes peaks covered in snow - glaciers!
We put on motorcycle gear to protect us if we crashed and then rode those bicycles downhill for 32 miles. It was a three hour, 2000 meter decent. It was great! The scenery was breathtaking as was the speed on bicycles in a third world country.

Then they loaded us back in the van and took us to Santa Maria, a small town with very little to do, but the food was good at one of the local restaurants. This would have been where we river rafted, but the river was down and considered too dangerous. Instead, we hung out in town where some sort of fiesta was taking place. We drank beer sitting on the sidewalk and met other trekkers from other tour groups. We danced with the locals and had a great time. The hostal where we stayed was not bad, but the showers were cold and in close proximity to each other. Our trekking group was becoming more of a family. In fact, our guide, Verjilio called us, familia.

Monday morning we had a wonderful breakfast by 6:00 at the same local restaurant where we ate supper.  Then we started our trek - seriously. I borrowed these pics off of Google Images.
We walked ALL day long up and down mountains along the Inca Trail. We stopped in local homes for rests and snacks. Our guide talked of local customs, farming, animals, etc. He was very knowledgeable and interesting. He was fun too. One home had a monkey that stole a guy's sunglasses off his head - pretty funny - our guide had already warned us about the monkey. Another home had a parrot and an odd critter that seemed to be a cross between a ferret/anteater/weasel. It climbed all over us - I really hate it that I lost those pics. You should have seen Lindz' face when the critter was climbing on her. We continued on all day. We crossed a raging river in a basket like this

About dusk, we came to a hot springs near Santa Theresa where we changed into swimsuits and sank our tired bodies into warm pools. Just what I needed. A van then took us on into the town of Santa Theresa, which was a larger town than Santa Maria. We ate another gourmet meal before we slept in another hostal. The hostal was once again close quarters sharing bathrooms, etc. But I slept great.

The next morning, Tuesday, we ate another wonderful breakfast before zip-lining. We crossed the canyon and river twice on the zip-line for a total of five zips. Here is a pic of Toby and me getting ready
Then we walked across this twisting and swaying bridge which was by far the scariest part of the trip for me

Then we picked up our backpacks and started hiking again. We had lunch at some jungle home - the food was once again gourmet - cooked in an outdoor kitchen - just wow! We continued hiking until we got to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. We had time to shower, change, walk around the town and sit down for another great meal. Believe me, I ate everything put in front of me.Then we rested up for the early morning hike to Machu Picchu. More later.


Jo Castillo said...

Sounds like you had fun! It is so amazing there. Brings back so many memories.

Bag Blog said...

Jo, I thought of you often while in Cusco - thinking of how it must have been to live in South America back in the day. Definitely interesting, I bet.