It was the morning of November 1st, 2012. I woke up at 5 am so that I could meet my group in the Plaza De Armas. I was the second person to the meeting point and our contact was nowhere to be seen. This is pretty typical in Peru.
The ragtag way tours are organized and the many diffusions one has to go through affects the continuity of some excursions. Add to this the Peruvian peoples ability to relax and it makes for a lot of waiting for the punctual person. Luckily, for me, I am not typically prone to punctuality.
It is an understatement to say that I was excited. I was ecstatic. I was on the verge of fulfilling a life dream, inspired 11 years ago in the pages of Blue Magazine. It was perfect, I felt amazing.
And yet, I found myself wanting the bus ride to last longer. I am not sure if this was the typical, verge of wish fulfillment stage fright or me worrying about my monstrous pack. It was about 18 kilos. Whatever it was it passed, quickly. The bus pulled up to Kilometer 82 after passing Ollantaytambo and it was time.
I bought a handkerchief from one of the Peruvians at the trailhead, something which came in handy throughout the trek. I carried my big bag and my walking stick that my roommate loaned me. I was a little skeptical about the stick, but by day two I was thanking the southern stars for its blessing.
We were off. My group of ten.. After a big group picture by the sign, we headed through the cattle like checkpoint. When we went through a half hour later, they asked if I wanted a stamp on my passport, Answer, Hell Yes! I love Passport Stamps!
And then we finally set off, crossing the Urubabamba on a cool bridge and heading up hill. I felt that the pack weight was manageable as we got going.
Day one was an easy day. 10 km, mainly flat, except for one big incline in a downpour after lunch. Even the lunch was good, especially for camping. If you are worried about the food on the Inca Trail, don’t be. They outdo themselves. And I have heard stories of even better food than the one on my tour.
The easy day passed quickly, with a few talks about the history of the Inca’s. Flowers used for ritual hallucinations, Bugs that live in cactus that are crushed and used for dark red dye, and other interesting facts. We passed by the first ruin without stopping because the rain was so heavy that it was impossible to stop.
Day 1 was simple. We made it to camp pretty early and had time for a nap before tea and then dinner, yes tea includes cookies. We divided up tents to share and after they were set up by the porters we were able to lounge around a bit and then get some sleep.
I purified water from the mountain faucet, for the next day and headed into the tent. I wasn’t able to sleep that well the first night, maybe 5 hours. But the excitement of the adventure and the camaraderie with the group provided enough energy to get through the next day.
Stay tuned for more from the Inca Trail.
**By the way my goal in this is to keep my posts under 600 words from now on. That is why I broke it up into four instead of two posts. I tend to run-on when I am writing. I know that blogging unlike lecture halls is a forum of brevity. Any feedback on this issue is appreciated. It is not that I am aiming for short posts, just trying not to waste too many words.