We arrived at Quosco (that’s the local Quecha word for it before the Spanish mangled it) which sounds a lot like the bulk household goods warehouse we are all so fond of, but what it had in bulk was very, very nice squares and colonial architecture (at a low low price). Did we mention the bus we arrived on had WiFi, personal TV consoles and bingo? Maybe, but it deserves multiple mentions anyway.
As you may or may not know, Sean’s greatest fear is haircuts, even when the hairdresser speaks English. In this case he did not. It was necessary however and he faced his fears, to great results. Who knew that the short haircut for men was universal?
The adrenaline running through Sean’s veins made him thirsty and we stumbled upon a not for profit restaurant that served great food and lemonades that were quite large (although they were more like virgin margaritas.) They were creepy-face-inducingly-good!
Alas, time for drinks was limited as we approached the date of departure for the famous Inca Trail. We handed in our payment in cash (they could have let us use our card like we do at every other place in Peru and not carry around a ridiculous pile of cash in a foreign country but thats not their policy so whatever) and got our briefing. It was going to be tough with all that heavy equipment (that the 20 or so porters carry) but we were ready!
Day one was the introduction day, nice and easy to get the soft, fattened tourists into gear. Attractions included villages with Powerade (also known as fluorescent gold up on the ol’ trail) and dogs that were so placid they seemed like they were drugged. The porters (shhh don’t tell them we called them that, the proper word is chaski) actually outnumbered the trailists and were gods among men. They would run ahead with 20kg bags over the slippery, rocky, steep track and set up our tents and cook us food before we had barely started the day. They would also clean all the dishes and pack up the campsite and then overtake us so they could get us a good campsite for the next day.
The camp after the first day of hiking was situated in a valley with some small ruins which seemed to not be important (there was no idiot proof sign which said not to climb) so we climbed it and drank a Cusquena beer (also known as amber gold) looking down the valley at the snow peaked mountains. Then some man up the mountain started frantically yelling at us to get down. Apart from defiling some Peruvian heritage it was not a bad start to the trail.
Historically, the Inca trail was actually used by supply caravans which used llamas to carry things along the trail. We saw a few ruins of places that they used to rest their llamas and sleep.
We saw a lot of fog on the trail, we were so high up the clouds just seemed to run into us.
I should put some story here but I can’t remember.
There were lots of fake Machu Picchus along the way to the real Machu Picchu.
The stairs we encountered along the way generally looked like they had been built by drunk elves and were excruciatingly difficult to climb or descend, especially in the wet. They were either tiny or huge and always slippery. The worst section which was almost an entire day of steep descent on these stairs was called the “Gringo Killer”. We renamed it the “Gringo Knee Killer” to better reflect our experience of the trail.
On the final day, we got up at around 3:30 am to queue up for the entrance to Machu Picchu so that we would be one of the first ones in but it was no use. Smelly, bedraggled and aching we arrived at Machu Picchu to see bus-loads of tourists pouring in via the main entrance which didn’t validate the early start but at least we got some good pictures. It doesn’t look it but the heat was intense, almost like the sun hated us and wanted us dead.
After the hike we could hardly be bothered taking many photos of Machu Picchu and quickly escaped to the nearby town of Aguas Calientes for lunch.
Next stop: LIMA