Saturday, October 29, 2005

Machu Picchu - Day 2

Got up at 6am to see about 10 llamas munching the grass around our tents without a care in the world! Had a fantastic breakfast - pancakes, banana oatmeal, crusty bread, tea, coffee and more - yes, you know its all about the food with me! Can you believe this is all happening on the edge of these gigantic steep mountains- wild! Check out Victor washing his hands before breakfast - teehee!

Many people say day 2 is the toughest so i was a bit worried but i absolutely loved it - the way you hike is like a giant M - very, very steep uphill for the morning then a wee break then equally steep downhill till lunch.. after lunch its the same again.. i have to say i thought these Inca folks were wee people (or at least no taller than me which as we all know is about 6ft right!). But the stone steps they built are ginormous .. dont know how they did it!

The views are incredible and almost impossible to capture on photo or in words. You feel like you are in a magical kingdom and its just amazing! When you look at where you are going to climb to, it seems almost unimaginable that you will make it (or at least that i would!) but then when you get there and look down to where you have been, you think - wow - that is just unbelievable that as humans we can actually do that... and so quickly too! Some of the climbs only took about 2-3 hours for each section and yet you seemed to be almost in the clouds!

On our second ascent after lunch, when we passed Warmiwanusca (Dead Womans Pass) and very high at over 4,100 metres, you are definitely gasping a wee bit here..... we were all asking Hamilton about any crazy or wild stories from the trek as he has been a guide for more than 4 years (it takes 5 years at university to learn all the aspects of guiding- from the flora and fauna expertize, to the knowledge of the Inca people, to the history of the Inca trail itself, a very well respected profession to become a guide on the Inca Trail.. and it seemed that not all guides are quite as passionate as Hamilton, which of course we were delighted about!). So... this is apparantly a true story. Some years back, when independant travelers could walk the Inca trail without a guide, a couple had been out and about walking ahead of a group. They had camped further on than the group one night. The next morning the guide from the group went ahead to check they were ready to go before he sent his group up to their area. He came upon the man, outside his tent, videoing the beautiful landscape, the guide said "Ola".. and was the man and his companion ready to pack up as his group would be coming soon. The man replied,¨"There was an accident in the night. My wife was shot". WHAT! The guide went into their tent and found the woman shot in the head... and the husband was outside, calmly saying an intruder must have come in while he was out taking photos! The woman was airlifted to the nearest hospital but died a few hours later and the man was taken into custody, apparantly having undertaken this dastardly deed for the insurance! I asked Hamilton if this was an Inca urban myth but he says it is a true story so there you go- even in the midst of thousands of year old history there is some good ole´ E True Hollywood gossip stories going around - who knew!

Our second nights camp was near Sayacmarca, (Dominant Town) a mere 3,580 metres this time! This time the campsite was a bit busier with other groups- and we all agreed we prefer having Machu Picchu to ourselves - oh well! Before you actually get to the campsite there is this amazing fort that looks down on to it, and we were told, if you want to go up and have a look there, for it! With my new found strength AKA without the backpack, i jumped right in. The views from the fort were really gorgeous! Hamilton had said to some of us "If you can manage it, take some time to be quiet, especially during part of the day´s trek, both at the fort and walking the 20 or so minutes to get to the campsite through the tree and flower covered stone will get so much more from the trek and if you are lucky, feel something special and almost spiritual¨. Well, you know me, very gullible but i did believe him as the places were so beautiful we were walking through, you almost couldnt help but be taken in by them... so i managed to be quiet for a wee while and definitely felt the pull of the Inca´s at that particular time!

We had a great dinner (see some of our lovely porters who laughed when they saw their pic!) and of course the big kettle for all our cups of tea... black tea is hard to get so we had to contend with either chamomile or coca tea (again for the altitude if you needed it!).

Did i tell you about United Mice the name yet? OK- so the original owner and his 3 colleagues were working away some years ago.. doing everything - guide, porter, cook, cleaner etc. One of the Australian tourists who was on the trek said¨"Hey you all remind me of wee mice running around like crazy, working so hard!" so apparantly the owner thought this was a great idea and named the company United Mice! Tada!!!

Ok enough for today - will write soon. Stefanie


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