Sunday, January 31, 2016

Day Two: The IncaTrail, we take our first...


Ring! Ring! My I Pad's alarm clock woke me at the pre-rooster crowing time of 3:45 am. We were scheduled to leave sans breakfast, and worse no coffee at 4:30 am. 

As Elmer Fudd would say "west and wewazation at wast!" NOT! 

I met the rest of my fellow Inca Pilgrims as we stumbled aboard the bus. 

In total numbers there were seventeen Gringo hikers. Demographically speaking, we were a diverse group. Our ages ranged from 23 to 70 years old. I was the second oldest guest. There were sixteen Yanks and one Canadian (Eh!) The majority were married couples. There were four other solo travelers like myself. Most were still gainfully employed: two doctors, one dentist, an ER nurse, a pilot, one firefighter, a home decorator, and one nice man who designed displays in art museums (I think). There was a couple who struck the retirement lottery like myself, and one woman who was between jobs. All were well educated and had an interesting story to tell. I guess boring people wouldn't undertake something like this. That's a good thing.

We also had a complement of 23 porters and three guides. We were a zip code's amount of people in motion.

It was a long bus ride to kilometer 82 to our start. En route, we were allowed one bano/desayuno break. That's it. 

The previous evening, it had poured gatos y perros. Somehow the bus driver willed the vehicle and it's human cargo through mud holes and past oncoming traffic (on a one lane greasy dirt road). The coachman was nice enough to avoid a head on with an aggressive bicyclist too. Apparently, the wheelman didn't understand the basic laws of physics. Getting struck by lots of mass hurts. I know this first hand. 

At the put in, we unloaded our gear, took another bano break and snapped a few photos. We then presented our passports to two bored dudes at the trail's starting checkpoint. They matched our passport's numbers to the information on their list of permitted hikers. We all passed that test. We then spanned a bridge across the Urabamba River. After that we were officially on the Inca Trail and on our way to Machu Picchu. 

The first day of hiking was described in the brochure as a warm up stroll. That being said we still covered about 10 miles of undulating trail complete with a big uphill finish. 

For our efforts, we were rewarded with views of the river while walking past tiny trailside villages. The locals were going about there daily lives as we moseyed through their front yards. It made me feel like a voyeur, and sort of strange. It was definitely far from the wilderness experience I was expecting. 

The weather was damp, cool and kind of dreary by the time we arrived at camp. We were all feeling spent and tuckered out. Luckily, an enterprising middle aged local woman saw the potential to score a few sols. (Peruvian dollars) She stopped by and offered us warm beers and tepid sodas. The brews were bought up in a flash. The sodas, not so much. 

It was around 5 pm at this point. We've been in motion for over half the day. Alex the lead guide informed us of our 5 am wake up call for the following day. We groaned but accepted our fate. We were on a mission to Machu Picchu. 

Buenas noches, 

BTW: A Wandering, Wondering Jew has now passed 25,000 pageviews since I launched it on July 4th 2014. Thanks everyone for looking in, especially you Russian, Chinese and Indian wannabe hackers. 

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