Cusco and the Inca Trail

Trip Start Jan 03, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, February 12, 2007

1. OK.
First of all.
The Inca Trail was not NEARLY as difficult as everyone had led me to believe. Not that it was super easy, but basically everyone had made it seem like I would be crawling up on my hands and knees and would need to cart an oxygen tank behind me. And then this Danish girl died right after coming back from doing the Inca Trail, and the Danish tend to be of fairly hardy stock, so I was a more than a little nervous. She just didnt have a pulse the next morning and her friends had to take her to the hospital in a taxi, because the ambulance wouldnt come. I have no intention of losing my pulse just yet. Ive only been gone two weeks! Plus, who would put me in a taxi? But it wasnt that bad. I got back last night and woke up this morning with a pulse and everything. I checked it twice. There were parts where you basically had to climb big stone stairs for about 4 hours, but that wasnt the entire thing. And actually, I was usually the first one to the campsite. And if I wasnt the first one, I was second. Which goes to show you what kind of people were in my group.
So we saw a lot of rocks and trees and clouds and hummingbirds and orchids and Inca ruins and dirt and rain and llamas and horses and donkeys. No pumas or spectacled bears though, so that was kind of a disappointment. Did you guys know that the English and Australians and basically everyone but us pronounces "puma" like "pyooma"? Its ridiculous. They talk funny and still like cricket.
So we saw a lot of things, but I spent most of the time looking at my feet, willing them to move.
On the last day, we got woken up at 4 am, which wasnt such a big deal because we had been going to sleep at 8, and then  we hiked over to Machu Picchu. It was CLOUDY. And it rained for hours and hours. But even so, it was beautiful and then it finally cleared up and I got a sunburn. And then we got back to Cusco and ate guinea pig. Check. And now its morning and I still havent showered yet and desperately need to do laundry but at least Ive got my pulse. And any day when youve got your pulse is a pretty good day.

2. So I leave tomorrow night for Argentina. I'm looking forward to it of course, but I'm going to miss Peru. I left Cusco last night on a 20 hour bus ride, which I spent sitting next to the cutest old woman. Originally, after talking to her for a couple of minutes, she asked if I was from Lima! I almost hugged her. No, lady, there is not one thing about me that's Peruvian, and also, and this is a big one here, I do not speak Spanish. But she told me that I speak it very well (liar) and that she understood everything I was saying. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I know ten Spanish words. I should be able to speak ten words coherently. She was heading to Lima to see one of her sons and his children. She had a new alpaca poncho that she modelled for me. I almost hugged her. Then she got on her cell phone to tell her son that she was on the bus, and I heard her tell him that she was sitting next to a lovely seorita from the United States who speaks very good Spanish and she's from Washington, DC, and she's going to Lima from Cusco, and she says that Peru is very nice and she's going to miss it when she goes to Argentina, which is where she's going next. And then she got off the phone and told me that her son and his family wish me safe travels. I almost hugged her. And then she saw that I was wearing flipflops and became very concerned that my feet were going to get cold, and she reached down and touched my feet and declared that yes, yes they will get cold. And she gave me a look that only an old lady can give. And not for the last time, I almost hugged her.

I found that Peru was full of people that I wanted to hug. There was also Rodrigo, who hung out at the internet place across the street from the hostel with his mother, who apparently worked there.  Rodrigo was two and a half. I asked. The first time I encountered Rodrigo, he appeared at my side while I was eating a piece of bread, and he said something to me that I didn't understand, not because it was in Spanish, but more because his tiny little voice was so high-pitched that it almost went above the human capacity for hearing. But I looked at him, and he had this ridiculous little grin, and he started nodding slowly, and he said, "S???" and I got that he wanted a piece of bread. So I gave him a little piece and he ran off. Then a couple of minutes later, this very small body appears at my knee, and I look down, and it`s Rodrigo again. And he says, "Maaaaaaaaaas???Si??" still while nodding slowly and grinning. How do you say no to that? You don't. You don't say no to that. He had a goofy little hat and was wearing overalls that were too short to cover his socks. You can't say no to that. Then there was also this very small kitten in the same internet place that I called Pancho because he looked like a Pancho, and whenever I would go in there, he would pop up from behind the computer and come sit on my lap. After dealing with both Pancho and Rodrigo, my heart has completely melted. But now I have to go pack my bags before the lights get shut off. This hostel blows, but at least I haven't yet encountered any machete-wielding meth heads. That's a good start.
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