I REALLY should have worked out before this trip

Trip Start Jan 22, 2012
1
5
19
Trip End Apr 01, 2012


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Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Friday, January 27, 2012

Day two of our Inca Jungle tour was …. interesting. We woke up at 6:30 a.m. and it was not raining (yes!), however the ground was soaking wet, and I instantly stepped into a puddle of mud and drenched my Nike shocks (great way to kick off 10-hours of hiking).

I had a yummy pancake with bananas and chocolate for breakfast, and then we headed off to hike. Things started out ok as we walked along a river to the jungle. I was feeling pretty good with my little backpack and my camera ready to shoot my heart out. Throughout our hike we saw banana trees, mango trees, coffee bean trees, and most importantly the coca plant.

The coca plant is what is used to make cocaine but this is only done with a lot of chemicals. The leaves of the coca plant are also dried out and used to treat altitude sickness. At every meal (and throughout the hike), we were able to chew on some leaves to help our symptoms. In Peru, they also make tea out of the leaves, which was also available for us at breakfast for us each day. Coca leaves taste like leaves. Seriously. There isn't a good way to describe them. When you chew on them, a juice releases and it tastes similar to an herbal tea. I’m not sure if the coca leaves helped or not, but I continued to take them just in case (plus they help suppress your appetite and you better believe that I was all for that).

Now, as most of you know, I’m pretty terrified of heights. Sure, I lived on the 34th floor of a high-rise in Chicago, but I never once got close to the railing of that balcony for fear of falling. Our tour through the Inca Jungle & Andes Mountains was supposed to be fairly easy and not have many drastic heights (or so we were told). Before we booked this, we stressed how afraid of heights I am to make sure I would be able to do this hike. All was going fairly well, until we came to a part where we had to basically scale the side of the mountain. Anxiety rushed over me, and I was convinced I was going to die. Good thing my EuroRSCG life insurance was valid until Feb 1. Haha. 

I did not want to do this, but there was no other way to get to our hostel for the night. GREAT! Phil and Bryan were amazing throughout this instance all the instances like these – carrying my backpack, water bottle and camera and then holding my hand/arm/shoulder as I took baby step after baby step to get through these hairy places. For me, it felt like there were tons of high drop off points with small rocky, steps. I could not even enjoy the views throughout the high parts of the hike because when I looked over my shoulde, I just saw my death – me falling hundreds of feet off a cliff to my death. WHY DID I THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?!

Let’s just leave it at the fact that I did not LOVE this day of our trip. However, the important thing is I survived and can now look back on it and realize I can do anything I set my mind to (cheesy, yes, I know … but I have to find some positive in this experience). Other things we encountered during the hike included waterfalls, super sketchy bridges that I refused to walk over and instead crawled (yes, I crawled as everyone on the other side likely laughed at me, but there was no way I was falling into a roaring, raging river), and a "cable car" which was essentially a metal basket attached to a steel cable that Bryan, Phil and I rode in together (another moment I was convinced I was going to die).

All in all, the day was long, hot, exhausting, and emotionally draining. I regretted not working out the two weeks before the trip because my legs felt like jello, and I did not think I was going to make it through the whole hike. I took my time, and Phil was amazing throughout it all – sticking way, way behind the group to make sure I was ok. After 10-hours of hiking (talk about burning calories), we made it to St Teresa. Our reward – hot springs and beers!

The hot springs were amazing and much needed after the longest day of my life. We headed to our hostel to get ready for dinner, only to discover our hostel did NOT have power. SUPER! Our room was lit by candle light and again we had no hot water. I was really starting to miss the simple things at home. We ate dinner by candlelight, and then called it a night before 9 p.m. to rest up for day 3 – more hiking.
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