Cuzco, November 8-10
I arrived in Cuzco and managed to find MarCia again and we set about getting ready to hike to Machu Pichu. The original idea was that we would use MarCia’s tent and make the hike ourselves, but we soon found that the cost of going with a group (and getting the added benefit of a guide) was not much more expensive and meant you had your food cooked for you! So after some dilly-dallying we signed up. The day before we left we did a small hike to the Inca Ruin’s around Cuzco with a couple of lovely French men, and MarCia decided to choose then to get very sick altogether. Luckily she knew all about herbal remedies etc. so after eating about 15 cloves of garlic she felt a lot better, can’t say the same about the poor bloke sharing the room with her though…
Inca Trail, November 11-14
So we set off on the Inca Trail with a hiking group. In retrospect this decision is right up there with the choice to get travel insurance in terms of bloody good ones. The group was absolutely full of lovely people. There were three delightful Belgians – Ive, Ilsa and Claudio – three fantastic Irish sisters – Finoulla, Groinne and Oonagh – two other Australian’s Nari and Jenny – then there was MarCia from Canada, Veronique from France and Kev from New Zealand.
The walk itself was fairly straightforward, aside from the second day which involved starting around 2600 meters and crossing ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’ which was at something closer to 4000meters. Some of the Irish girls even did there best impression of dead women when they got to the top. On the way along the trail we saw four sets of Inca Ruins, all of which we were allowed to explore at our leisure, and all of which were quite amazing. The last night we even got to have a little party with the locals before mounting the final assault on Machu Pichu. There was drinking, dancing, and a lot of fun was had by all.
After a sleepless night (I had to see off amorous locals from Jenny’s tent in my underwear, it’s a long story) we got up at 4:30am to get to Machu Pichu for sunrise. We did, and it was raining and cloudy, but hell, we were there. We then had an incredibly funny old man show us around the ‘Amazing and Astounding Inca Architecture’ he was the most peculiar fellow, spoke rather like a Japenese scholar, but he was a fantastic guide. After that those of us from the Southern Hemisphere decided to climb Hyuna Pichu, which rises 600 meters above Machu Pichu, while the Northern Hemisphere people caught the bus down to Aguas Caliantes for some food and a rest. From the top of the Hyuna there is supposed to be an amazing view of Machu Pichu. Of course when we got up there was so much cloud we couldn’t see a thing. After an hour or so though the cloud lifted, we took some photos and hiked all the way back to Aguas Caliantes. This made us THE most hardcore people, as everyone else caught the bus.
First thing we did when we got there was to visit the hotsprings from which the town gets its name. After an exhausting walk, and not washing for four days, a bath in the springs was just the ticket. Eventually the northern hemisphere brigade found us and we had a reunion sitting in the lovely hot springs in the misty valleys of the Andes… it was quite serene, but the Irish girls still tried to drown me.
Ollataytambo, November 14-15
On the way back to Cuzco MarCia and I stopped off at Ollataytambo, a small Inca town famous for it’s battlements where the Inca’s actually defeated the Spanish in a battle. Of course their success only lasted until the Spanish came back with bigger swords, but the ruins of the fortress remain along with the Inca layout of the town.
Cuzco, November 15-16
Got back to Cuzco and pretty much ran into the Irish girls straight away. We planned a big night as Veronique and I were leaving the next morning for Lima (long story) and indeed that big night was executed with some success. The Irish girls dressed me up in the shirt, and we hit a restaurant and then onto a club, or a set of clubs called Mama Africa’s. The night only took place at all for me after the Irish Girls went beyond and gave me some money (as, yes, I had run out of what had been sent in Arequipa), so I was in a very good mood. Basically spent the night dancing away to cheesy tunes while everyone got loved up. The shirt was considered the Bomb by locals and travelers alike and I just had a great time. My camera did get stolen, as did Veronique’s handbag, but these were minor details. We all stayed out all night (which was good for me as I avoided paying for a room!) and I imagine there were some sore heads the next day. As it was Veronique and I headed out to the airport and got on our flimsy aircraft that looked like it came straight off the set of ‘Alive’, and we headed to Lima.
Lima, November 16-17
As previously mentioned, I was completely out of money by this point, fully into the reserve emergency money I had hidden all over my body, so I didn’t get up to much in Lima. Staying in the cheaper (and more dangerous) ‘Centro’ district this time, I did manage to meet a lovely American girl called Austin, although I was too tired from the night before to party like it was 1999. I didn’t have the money for the taxi to the airport, so I was glad to find out Austin was heading out around the same time. We got a taxi to the airport together and I bid goodbye to her and South America.