Friday, 8 October 2010

Peru Trip: Inca Trail Day 1 Continued

I can't believe I first posted about this on Tuesday, it's taken me forever to get around to continuing blogging about Day 1 of the Inca Trail, this week has been even more mental than usual at work. The cherry on top of the cake came on Thursday when I learned from one of my account teams that a senior client had made a huge cock up that may have cost the client organization $500,000 and so she is now worried about being fired. Yikes!!!

I feel for her, she is a nice client, but from an unemotional business perspective she is also the person we have the relationship with, the one who signs all our scopes we are more than a bit concerned, since that could also mean the account is in jeopardy, so we are pulling out all the stops to make her look good and hopefully calm down her furious CEO who she was meeting with at 5pm today. I've yet to hear how that meeting went but earlier she said that no matter what the outcome she was planning to fill an IV drip with gin tonight.

Isn't marketing fun!!!

Anyway it's a Friday night before a long weekend - Columbus Day on Monday, although I will have to go into work even though technically our office is closed, but at least I get to have Saturday and Sunday which hasn't happened for a while - so I am putting thoughts of work behind me.

So back to day 1 of the Inca Trail...

...After walking for about an hour we paused for a moment so that Efraim could provide us with information about the Inca ruin we could see across the river.

As we stood and listened a huge wasp buzzed out of the foliage and we all took a step backwards.

"Oh don't worry about it," said Efraim dismissively, "that wasp is looking for tarantulas for food, they lay eggs in the tarantula's nest and eat them."

Um...I'm sorry, what's that you said...TARANTULAS!!!!

TARANTULAS!! Not just huge wasps, but TARANTULAS!!!!

I was so distracted by that piece of information that I completely forgot to write down the name of the ruin we could see, I was far too busy scouring the ground for spiders and making sure the wasp didn't have an opportunity to lay any eggs on me. Shudder!!

Aside: I will point out to anyone reading this who is planning to do the trail that I didn't encounter any more huge wasps and only came across one spider, so if even if you have a whole arachnophobia thing going on I am sure you would be just fine on the trail.

After our insect encounter we continued on the trail, hiking up a steep hill for a solid 20 minutes. Do-able but not exactly a breeze for this 39-year old regular gym goer and day 1 is supposed to be the easy day. I suspect it's easy only in comparison to day 2. Day 2 scares the crap out of me!! Other than the steep hill though day 1 was been very pleasant to that point, especially as it had stopped raining but was nice and cool for hiking.

We were rewarded at the top of the hill by a rest stop where you could purchase water, soft drinks, Pringles and Snickers.

The rest stops are also set up for the porters who make frequent stops for Chicha served from the large buckets you can see in the photo below. I forget exactly what the pink stuff is - I didn't note it down on day 1 at least, but maybe when I get further through my notes I'll find a name - but I remember it's non-alcoholic, unlike Chicha.

Another home along the trail route.

Porters enjoying a Chicha break.

I was lulled into a false sense of security when Efraim said we'd have a brief steep walk immediately after the rest stop and then we proceeded up a short, steep, rocky climb, but that was only the teaser and soon we were walking up what I considered to be a fairly big hill. As I labored up the hill in my Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX Gore-Tex membraned, stability control, all terrain sneakers - excellent shoes by the way, my lungs threatening to explode out of my chest, an older local woman walked passed me down the path, herding a lamb and a horse, her feet clad in loafers. Loafers!!

Honestly it's steeper than the photo above would have you believe and those steps...let me tell you, they are on the high side. As a former student of architecture I am aware there are rules regarding the height of steps and the Incas clearly weren't following them. At 5ft 1 I had to over-stretch a little, which I didn't quite get, because wouldn't 5ft 1 have been quite tall for an Inca? They were tiny people right?

And then after you've climbed all the way up...guess climb all the way down!! WTF!! Up, down, up, down!! What's THAT about? Couldn't those Incas have just gone around?

The porters clapped our arrival as we arrived for lunch. I'll be honest, relative to their speedy efforts with 20+ kilos on their backs I didn't really feel deserving of the applause, but bless their hearts.

For some reason I pictured us eating our meals huddled around a camp fire with bowls of something ladled from a caldron, what I didn't expect was a dining tent...

...and a meal of warm garlic bread, vegetable soup, chicken and potato casserole followed by tea. Unbelievable!! We were told that warm tea was to be served after every meal as an aid to digestion as cold water could give you a stomach upset.

Anyway I was hoping to get day 1 all wrapped up in this post, but I'm exhausted and need to have a break from sitting in front of a computer, so I'll love you and leave you for today, but more to come.

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