Day Two of the Inca Jungle Trek

Trip Start Jan 24, 2009
Trip End Dec 08, 2009

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Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Thursday, September 10, 2009

After a relatively decent nights sleep, we scoffed down breakfast and set off for day two of the trail which required us to use Shank's pony (for those unitiated that involves using your legs)!

This was undoubtably the most arduous day of the trail with a number of steep climbs through the Peruvian mountains. Part of the trail involved a high mountain pass originally used by the Incas which is still in use. The sheer cliffs at this point certainly focused the mind.

In the UK, Health & Safety would have "black and yellow warning tape" all over the place and undoubtably safety netting would spring up. Not in Peru however. Instead they require you to stop at the highest and most exposed point and offer some food to "Pachamama" or "Mother Earth" for your safety and good health. Mind you, I'm sure that 5 minutes after making our offering of a Twix bar we saw Herber our guide with chocolate around his chops!

At one point we ended up at a resting place called "The Monkey House" where a series of hammocks were waiting for the "gringos" to rest their weary legs. After 5 minutes or so several of our party had snoozed off for a quick 40 winks.

The owner of the Monkey House has a Picuro which is a large, grey, speckled rodent-type animal found in these parts. Very adept at making tricks for tourists such as drinking from water bottles with his front hands, there was the obligatory sign saying "Tip the Picuro".

After we had rested, Herber showed us how they make chocolate in these parts from the local cocoa leaves. To be quite frank, it tastes dreadful and I don't think Cadburys have too much to worry about in the way of competition. Herber also brought out some local clothes for us to try on....all I can say is ridiculous and at times down right spooky!

A few hours later we stopped for lunch in a tiny village. As we soon learnt every meal in these parts consists of chicken. Your only option is whether you want it breaded, shredded or fried. Here Herber's brother, Edgar who is a trainee guide, picked up Louise's "mosquito proof" hat and asked for his picture to be taken. Clearly a sucker for a photo this was the first of many he requested over the next couple of days.

After lunch we carried on trekking along a deep river valley for the rest of the afternoon. There used to be a train line to Santa Teresa, our final destination, though severe flooding a few years ago had swept this away. You could see where parts of the mountain had literally been pulled apart and swept downstream.

Eventually, we reached our means of getting across the River, a small but perfectly functional "Cat's Cradle" in which three of you had to squeeze into before they "flung" you across the valley. At the time we thought this was the only way of getting across the river only to find out that there was a perfectly good suspension bridge just around the next mountain bend! The Cradle was solely for the use of the Gringos!

Just before reaching Santa Teresa we stopped at a series of hot springs which have been developed for the passing "Gringo trade". A couple of hours spent here resting and soaking our mosquito ridden bodies was just what the doctor ordered. Whilst here, we also learnt that the Peruvians have their own local version of James Bond who is known as "Chollo Bond"....which obviously became Herber's nickname for the rest of the trip.

The accommodation in Santa Teresa looked fantastic (by Peruvians standards). Four brand new, clean, ensuite bedrooms surrounding a lawned courtyard. In fact they would have been positively superb if they had remembered to include such luxuries as running water to flush the toilet.

That night we made our way into Santa Teresa for dinner at a local cafe. The menu was chicken, chicken and chicken. After dinner we learnt that Santa Teresa was Benji's home town and we were joined by his brother and cousin for a few beers...obviously, the gringos picked up the tab but hey, it was a great night all the same.

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