This post was actually written on the trail, so it may be the most raw and authentic of the posts J
Today Meghan and I got up at 5 to shower and get ready for the trail. I’ll be honest, I was freaking out with excitement. I’ve been looking forward to doing the trail since I learned it existed. Meghan was a little more pensive, but I think it’s fair to say that she was excited too. Last night Monica told us the bus would come get us, but today at about 5:50 she told us to come to the plaza instead. It’s good that we were ahead of schedule or we would have been late to the meeting place. We grabbed our stuff and took a cab to the plaza. In the 10 minutes we were waiting to get picked up, 6 people attempted to sell us a wide variety of trinkets or experiences. I didn’t know that the plaza was so busy at 6:30 AM.
The drive to the starting point took a surprisingly long time. We went through Chinchero then stopped in Ollantaytambo for some people to get breakfast. We were full from a big breakfast in the house, so I got to show Meghan the ruins. They remain to be one of my favorite places in Cuzco. We then proceeded in the van for another hour until we arrived in the small town of Piskakucho. Here we arranged our things, covered ourselves in sunblock, and began the hike.
The checkpoint to enter the trail was pretty intense. I found myself having irrational fears about forgetting my passport or ISIC card, or having the wrong number written down on the ticket, which all could bar entry into the trail. It would have been absolutely awful if those dreams came true, but fortunately we both made it through and I was relieved. Then we really began our walk. Wow, so beautiful. Huge, green mountains on every side. The powerlines to Machu Picchu were annoying for pictures, but I still got some good ones. The Argentinians tended to lag behind while we and the Germans stayed up with Edwin, one of our guides. Marco, the other, didn’t speak English so it was easier for Meghan to hang around Edwin. I don’t know how to describe being here to you. All moments are epic, but the most spectacular are when we got to see Incan ruins. The first was called Qhanabamba, which was the equivalent of a hotel for messengers. The Incans had a very efficient system for communicating between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Every 9 km, there was a resting place where one messenger would stay and the next would leave. Therefore, runners would always be fresh. Messages between the 2 cities would only take about 5 hours to arrive. I tried not to think about the fact that it would take me 4 days. The second ruin was called Patallaqta, and was far more impressive. We overlooked it from atop a nearby mountain. It was used as both an agricultural and religious center until the Incan’s partially destroyed it so that the Spaniards couldn’t use it as an outpost. However, they did such a good job of hiding it that the Spanish never found it. That’s a big part of why Machu Picchu is still intact today. The rest of the day was good, especially because the rain held off until we got to the campsite.
In the campsite, I realized that my shoulders were killing me. To the point where I could barely lift my arms laterally. Thank goodness I am travelling with a nursing student who had ibuprofen J
The language barrier seems like it will play a big role in this trip. The Peruvian guides and I can communicate well, but the Argentinians are impossible. They speak faster and have a very distinct accent that I’m not accustomed to. Because of this I can’t translate for Meghan, so we’re both lost. It feels almost like I’m entering a new country again.