In 2015, I signed up to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Then the entourage was thirteen other guests, three guides and twenty-two porters who performed most of the sweat labor. Read all about these Uber Athletes below.
It was a great, beautiful and wonderful meander through Mountain Passes, ancient Inca ruins and rain forests.
In some ways getting to Machu Picchu was anticlimactic. I enjoyed the hike more than the finish line. (I thought MP would be larger.)
Before leaving Peru, I already decided to return to hike the Salkantay route to Machu Picchu. It’s famous for being a prettier amble with 15;200”Salkantay Pass being the literal highlight. I wanted to experience being this up-in-the-air without an airplane.
So I signed up again with Valencia Travel. I tossed out some dates, paid my $$$$ and received a nice looking itinerary. I booked my flights after they assured me I was good to go.
Since that time, I have been emailing Valencia to get more info. (I ask a lot of questions because I wonder too). One question was, “How many other Gringoes will be joining me?”
Their answer, “So far there is you and Ms. Alyson. However more people can sign up before your departure.”
Well, since that time Ms. Alyson bailed out. (Did anyone of you tell her I was hard get along with?)
So...it’ll be me, one Guide, one cook, an assistant cook and two horsemen. I’m assuming they will bring their horses too. That’s five Peruvian and two beasts of burden to take care of one Jewish Gringo. That’s nuts! Hence the title of this blog.
All but the guide will speak Quechua, the indigenous language of the people residing near the Andes. For them Spanish is a second language. My guide will speak English. I hope he’s prepared for an onslaught of questions from me. I’ll use this experience as a full-on immersion of Inca, Peruvian and Cusco potential knowledge. I like learning.
So...after a Red-eye flight from Miami to Cusco, I’ve been strolling around the plazas, crowded streets and surrounding hillsides. This is what I’ve noticed and learned.
Cusco was once the Capital of the ancient Inca Empire. All paths, rudimentary roads led to and from Cusco. I’ve included a photo of the size of this historic civilization. It was HUGE!
Now Cusco is the epicenter of Peruvian Tourism. In recent figures, two million tourists sucked hard on the thin air while walking its narrow streets and lanes. Most visitors have aspirations (and lots of inhalations) to visit Machu Picchu. I’m one of them.
Tourism is now the new “Inca Gold.” For many locals learning English is their ticket out of poverty. This morning, I took my coffee outside of my nice hotel. A bellhop named Jonathan followed me out. We struck up an English-only conversation. He was practicing his language skills on me. This polite young man went on to tell me he once was a porter on Machu Picchu treks. He made enough money to go to University. What does he aspire to become? A Machu Picchu Trekking Guide. This career path is a game changer in Cusco. It’s steady work and steady income.
The other thing I’ve learned while walking around here. By and large the Locals aren’t very, well, large. I’ll give you a frame of reference. If the Cuscoans were going to start a basketball team, I’d be asked to be the intimidating shot-blocking Center. Having the chance to look down at peoples faces is kind of a pleasant change for me.
Well, I know you are all BUSY with the Holidays.
So, I’ll blog to you on the other side of the Salkantay Trek.
Feliz Navidad to all my Christian friends,