- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.ZOSg03mN.dpuf Katie Nugent Photography: January 2010


La Recoleta Cemetery

A cemetery seems like a sparkle dampener, and yet the Cementario de la Recoleta, was beautiful in the sad way a faded and cracked photo seems timeless. When I arrived it seemed appropriate that the skies were snarling and threatening, but that only meant most people avoided the outdoors, giving me space and solitude to walk the alleyways of the tiny city of the dead, right in the centre of the very lively BA.

If I thought too hard about the remains inside the tombs, a nervous vibration would flood the back of my neck and I would have to scurry onwards. Apparently one poor young woman was buried alive in her tomb, but I avoided that area for fear of being attacked by a poltergeist. It would have been a shame to return to Canada after such an amazing trip, only to have to call the ghostbusters to remove the poltergeist pest from my soul. Precautions are often necessary when traveling.


BA stands for Being Amoured

Have you ever noticed what a better version of yourself you are when on holidays? I most certainly am my most shiny sparkly self when there is nothing to do but explore and watch, and look and listen. I feel more mysterious when walking down a road I don't know, scoping out shops I haven't seen, sipping espresso in cafes I've never frequented. I feel especially shiny when people stare, because I have light hair and eyes and they do not. I stare right back, gaping at their lovely olive skin, dark hair and eyes and wonder if they know just how lovely they look. I would like to be one of them, cruising their streets with purpose instead of just cruising. But then the magic would be lost and I wouldn't look up at the buildings or down the alleys, meander through parks, down paths where I have no idea where they go.

Which is exactly what I did for my first full day in BA. Poor Morgan was strapped to her office desk, begrudgingly working under the watchful eye of her too-thin, at times fierce, german boss, who eats only yogurt and fruit, which explains the occasional ferociousness. Why do we do this to ourselves ladies?

So. I set off a handful of maps in hand, all sprinkled with hand-drawn circles. I was instructed to play connect the dots, walking from one point to the next until I arrived downtown to meet my lovely friend. I strolled for hours. Pretending I could open my mouth and an array of lovely spanish words would come forth, but when it came time to order my ensalada I panicked. The waiter urged me on and I eventually spat out my words, but the magic was broken. No lovely spanish words falling, only short, squat Spenglish. But sparkly self doesn't care about these things, she just takes it in stride. 

Eventually I found my way to Morgan's office, where she was perched outside, my arrival being somewhat late. It wasn't that I was lost, just a little inconvenienced by wrong streets being where I thought they shouldn't be. Sparkly self again doesn't mind these things either. 

We stitched our way through the shopping district of downtown, weaving through crowds of people, families, business men, women, grandmothers. All of Buenos Aires was out on the town and it was barely quitting time at the offices. Apparently, this is the lifestyle. People go out, enjoy themselves. They stay out until the wee hours of the morning, crawl into bed and then do it all over... which is what we did.

We ate dinner late, as is tradition, sipping bubbles while waiting for our table. The waitresses were nasty, rolling their eyes and barely tolerating our existence, but apparently this is tradition too. Onwards to a bar where the men were dark and forward, apparently they too picked up on my sparkly self, only to be disappointed when I pointed to my ring finger and shrugged. Body language is, after all, universal.

We danced and giggled and suddenly it was past two am. How could it be? I'm normally in bed far before then, but the sparkle self can't be stopped and as we tumbled out into the night, I noticed there was still a line to get into the bar. 

'I love it here' was the last thing I thought before turning off my sparkle self and slipping into sleep. 


Lima to Buenos Aires-- from four to solo

I've decided to skip a recap on Lima.

Lima was neither atrocious nor vivacious, just a big ol' city that was impossible to navigate. It could never emulate the sparkle of our other stops and hops and skips through Peru. It was a city for working, for coming and going but for us it was not a city to tour and appreciate.

Or maybe I don't want to mention it because someone stole my favourite neon pink panties in Lima. And who wants to gush about a city where a girl's favourite undies get nabbed at the cleaners??? Some lady is sporting my lovely pink boy cut undies, feeling all cute and sassy just like I used to feel while wearing those particular ginch. I like to think they have helped her succeed in some way. Not in a nasty kind of way but empowering her to change the world for the better. It's a nicer image than the very possibility of some pervy guy sporting my underwear, which would be a terrible waste of the pink panty power. The panty theft was a true violation and one which will forever contaminate my thoughts of Lima.

But never mind that, because after bidding farewell to my lovely ladies three, I jumped a plane to Buenos Aires. Not even the thievery of my sassy underthings could dampen my spirits, nor the torrential rains which pummeled the taxi's windshield.

An evening amidst downtown BA
On my own for the first time in three weeks, my heart pounded as I sputtered and spit out spanish-seeming words, watching the driver's face, trying to detect the faintest sign of understanding. Unfortunately it was clear we had no idea what the other was talking about. Still, we happily chatted away, pretending to giggle at the others' assumed joke, nodding our heads when a question or response was beyond our comprehension.

After whipping through alleyways and tiny side streets, he eventually dropped me in front of the apartment building I was looking for. I reached over and handed him what I assumed was a proper tip, but judging from the way he beamed and set about getting my luggage and making a general fuss over me, I had over tipped-- handsomely.

The Pink Palace, Evita's centre stage for addressing the masses

Before I had time to think about it, there she was, my lovely friend Morgan. The girl who picked up her things and moved to Buenos Aires just because she could, only to fall madly in love with a handsome Argentinean and the city itself. So she found work, an apartment, a dog and a life on the other side of the world from ME!

But at that moment I was eternally grateful she had done all those things, so that I could finally come visit her in a city as effervescent as carbonated water. It took my breath away and I naturally wanted to ignore every last responsibility and commitment I had in Canada and simply get lost in the heartbeat of Buenos Aires, forever. I really do mean for eternity. The architecture, the art, the clothes, the food, the wine, the nightlife- I was spoiled rotten by Morgan and her man Agu, who showed me around and dazzled me to the point I thought my heart might actually sigh with relief from all the indulgence. It was a little magnificent, or maybe alot magnificent. A gigantic magnificent few days indeed.

The details that make the city

And I've always said I wasn't a city girl. Perhaps I hadn't found my city. Stay tuned...


taking a moment

Whoa Nelly, I didn't realize the time. Nope. Sure didn't. I didn't realize I've been staring at this screen for at least 30 minutes, trying to grab hold of some outlandish or even slightly interesting way to open up the Amazon Basin chapter, but alas I am stumped. Shake it as I might, this tiny noggin has nothing to contribute, I think it's tired, me old tete. Poor creature, always having to carry the rest of me with it's thoughts and analysis and direction and such. Perhaps this is why I spent the final hour of work walking back and forth from computer to printer, back to computer to press print, back to printer to refill paper... and on and on until I just stood still. Stopped. Dead. And person behind me plowed into my rear but it didn't really matter. I needed a moment. So I took it, at the expense of some poor random boy who was looking a bit sheepish for smashing into me. Sigh, poor thing.

But then I suppose I did the same in Tambopata National Park. I took a moment at the expense of possibly experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity. I skipped out, which as you know, I am most wonderfully good at, and I do not apologize for having this talent. Aux contraire, petits amis... I adore it. (please don't tell my Dad)

the lodge
You see our little eco-lodge, Posada Amazonas, was bustling with jungle activities and walks and talks and such. Three- days and two nights of activities. And as much as it was great for the busy bodied and insanely inquisitive minded beings in our foursome (momma, long-legs) a little quiet time spent swinging in a hammock and not having to discuss this or that, or meet anyone new, or discuss where we were from and where we were going, well it was far too mischievous to pass up.

no more monkeys jumping on the bed
I did walk up the enormous flight of stairs in the middle of the jungle, through three levels of vegetation, to sit on top of the world gazing out at an ocean of treetops. Through the jungle we marched, sighting monkeys and leaf cutting ants, and soldier ants, and hearing the cries of forlorn jungle animals, out there, somewhere. But mostly I liked listening from my hammock, marinating in the sounds of the jungle, and the smell of torrential rains hitting giant leaves, and dirt, making thick stewy mud that sucked off your rubber boots.

Canopy Tower
But there was pirahna fishing, and I couldn't miss out on that. I was anticipating blood thirsty creatures and being able to use a leg of lamb to hook them. I pictured accidently cutting my finger and the little devils eagerly chomping after me. But that's what hollywood will do to your imagination... screws with you.

Cheating Pirahna fisherwoman
As you will see from the photo, these were not something one needed to fear. They couldn't smell our blood, or our fear. They were only interested in tiny bits of meat attached to the hook. And just for the record Long Legs didn't catch that little guy. Jesus did. Jesus our guide, not the biblical fellow. This one's name rhymed with, bay juice, pronounced "HEY ZEUS"-- more greek than biblical really.

Anyway, he baited the bloodsucker and once it was hooked slyly passed the rod to the Blond so she could have all the glory. Why reveal the truth behind the photo? Because anything she can do, I can do too, and I couldn't hook a fish. Boo. Which in reality is probably a good thing, as I don't think catch and release is very nice... I wouldn't like it if someone enticed me with juicy piece of chocolate, only to jab a hook in my mouth and then shove me underwater (the reverse of a fish out of water) then take a photo with me and just when I'm starting to see my doom, throw me back to life. It's a bit rude, really.

The many types of greenery in the jungle
The final activity I joined was a visit with a local shaman. I know what you're thinking... half-naked brown guy wearing beads and speaking in tongues... damn hollywood again- this guy was wearing a "te Quiero Peru" (I love peru) tee shirt with jeans and dirty runners. He was short and older, with a crooked grin and a tendency to hunch his shoulders. If you saw him on the street you might think he was a farmer, not a medicine man. He was very matter of fact in the way he walked us through his garden-an overrun jungle with a strangled path running through it. He pointed out plants and explained how & what they cured. Impotency, heartache, aging, cancer-- the big four, so the next time you're feeling heartbroken, flacid, old or sick, hop a plane to the Amazon, it's much nicer than the pharmacy. Warmer and far more relaxing.

Our rooms before bed


Peruvian holidays

I have been struck with a mad case of the winter blahs. How does one know if one is suffering from this condition? I shall list the symptoms in no particular order:
• Lack of pizzazz (check)
• The strange desire to crawl into bed at 4pm and not come out until spring (check)
• Heartache for those people suffering on an island flattened by nature's fiery (check)
• Missing one's love due to distance & above heartache  (check... 567 Km to be exact)

Perhaps this is why South America seems like a vague memory wedged somewhere between fuzzy moments and exciting times, in my memory bank. With all the sad images and newsbreaks and thousands lost buried disappeared it seems strange to be reveling in past fun-cations. Perhaps this is why the shelves filled with fluffy good time memories are wedged somewhere in the dark corners, collecting dust and mites. Let's see if we can dust them off shall we?

After shlepping our way to our dreamy beds back in Cusco (same rooms and beds for all of us!!), Mom and Maggie took nice hot showers and left Molly and I sans warm water, another night to marinate in our own trekking juices... Yum. 

We'd booked ourselves three days in Cusco, to see and do everything we'd missed prior to the big hike. What did we do? Not much. Honestly, it was lovely. After being on a tight schedule with every minute calculated and accounted for it was like skipping out on history class for a day at the coffee shop gossiping with an equally unmotivated friend. Did I ever tell you about the report card I brought home in grade 11 which noted my 30-something "absent" classes??? I LOVE skipping school. Rebel without a clue or care, baby.

We popped our heads into the odd art gallery or museum, but really what we wanted to do was just stroll and eat and read and eat and shop and eat. So we did. Picking up Peruvian art work, sweaters, scarves... my god, my mother was unstoppable. The woman was born to shop. 
I mostly sat outside the shops and stared at people passing, pretending to analyze the cobblestones or skyline, in hopes of maybe understanding the local gossips, sitting across the street.  But alas, as much as I'd hoped, my mouth did not spill forth spanish words and phrases, nor did my ear suddenly, magically pick up the perfect understanding of what was being said. On a positive note, it meant I wasn't really eavesdropping as much as hoping to catch any word I might know. "oooh they're talking about guinea pig, maybe they're discussing dinner?" "Chico?What did the boyfriend do I wonder?" And so on and so forth. I can only imagine what they thought of me, some white girl with a burnt nose sitting outside, squinting and tilting her head, looking most perplexed or perhaps even constipated. Sigh... so much for being mysterious. 

At one point while on holidays from our vacation abroad, the skies opened up and drained every ounce of fluid collected in each foreboding cloud. The streets turned to churning rivers of brown soupy water, collecting sewage and drowning rats as it went. But we didn't care. We happily rooted ourselves to our table in an australian cafe, where they served homesick travelers, comfort food like avocado on toast, traditional english breakfasts and giant salads. 

Not that we were homesick or food sick for that matter. Peruvian food is delicious in every way, though none of us dared try the guinea pig. It would be like eating dog in Asia. Or a child in Canada... just not right. 

By the time our itinerary (neatly printed and folded in Molly's travel pouch) told us it was time to leave Cusco, we were revitalized and ready for the amazon basin... a little heat was needed to stave off the mountain chills seeping into our bones in the Cusco squares. Loaded down with another suitcase full of artesian stuff we said good bye to our host mother and beat it to the airport ready for the next leg of the adventure.

PS I took a little break from lugging around my camera while in Cusco. Sometimes I feel the giant lens and camera body makes me stand out and I often want to blend in. So I've picked out a few photos from we heart it to illustrate our stay there. Enjoy. 


After thoughts...

 We learned many facts about the Inca culture along the trail and I found it fascinating especially since our guides were fantastic story tellers, both with the same qualities you might imagine an ancient tribe's story teller to have. The Inca's didn't have a written language, so they relied on story telling to divulge their history and their information. 
The Inca trail with its many ruins along the way was a trail of information, in which runners were sent back and forth between Cusco (the hub of civilization) and Machu Picchu, where it's believed astronomers and astrologers studied the stars for information and guidance. Ranging from when the summer and winter solstices would happen-- to inform the farmers when to plant and harvest, and information on the future-- it's believed it was revealed that the Inca's would be defeated by an attacking army (ie the Spanish). They believed in a spiritual world as much as they believed in the sciences that allowed them to create thousands of crops of corn, quinoa, potatoes... to nourish an  entire civilization. 

The trail so rich in history, in hundreds of thousands of past footsteps, has now evolved beyond that history and has a new depth. It's now a chance for people from all around the world to take time to make the pilgrimage for their own reasons. To celebrate love, to discover an inner depth unknown before, to quieten a doubting voice, to answer a question which might have needed time and new perspective, or perhaps to rediscover a new set of questions. Whatever the reason all these trekkers make their way to Machu Picchu, they do so to discover something.

Do I recommend it? Yes I do. I recommend every moment, every step, every drop of sweat. I recommend the bickering, the doubting, the burning lungs, muscles, brain. I recommend the quiet, the silliness, the laughter and the rain. It will not disappoint. 

Our trekking outfit was amazing. We had only a few priorities: They had to employ locally, they had to pay well, they had to support the environment and they had to provide a vegetarian food option. They did all of these and were far beyond any expectation we could have had. For more information go to Llamapath treking. 

I'll be back Monday for more tales from South America. Have a super weekend. 

Day Four-- Machu Picchu at last

3:30am. It's much the same as 4am, just earlier. But when a giant chocolate cake is presented at the breakfast table, well it ain't so bad now is it. A celebratory cake to give us props for making it to this day; the day we thought of while climbing up, while scrambling down, while thanking god for the occasional flat bit to give our legs a rest. This was it. The day we'd see Machu Picchu with our own eyes. A view not painted with someone else's words or memories, but with our very own eyeballs displaying the site in human definition.

By 4am we'd said good bye to our gracious porters, the little red army who pounded up the mountainside with 50 lbs a piece on their backs, speeding past our sorry asses to set up and prep food, tents, water stations. Bone shattering work so we, the trekkers, could be comfortable. Made me feel like a huge jackass sometimes, but mostly just astonished at their willpower and fierceness. I hope one day I'll grow up to be like those porters, strong and positive even when faced with a grueling hike straight up.

Finally sometime after 5am the guard unlocked the gates which kept us corralled in the campsite with all the other trekking herds. We wound our way down to the balmy flora and fauna of a temperate rainforest. No longer a jagged rocky path clinging to a mountainside, instead we walked on the actual stones set from Inca times, surrounded by lush greenery and bamboo shoots.

The last big hurdle to overcome was a set of decrepit stone stairs, most definitely not up to code. (Being the wife of a carpenter I am lectured at length on the construction codes of this and that, and I always asked myself why. I always thought I was zoning out until the moment I saw those stairs and thought "Well those aren't to code are they?)

Through the Sun Gate our eyes beheld one of the 7 wonders of the world

The said stairs were more like launching pads and if you were not kindly endowed with long legs you had to propel yourself forward and up with the help of your trusty walking pole, up and up for 50 meters of sweatiness. But then oh but then, when you crested and walked through the Sun gate there on the horizon was the vision you'd been waiting for.
Worth every step

And apparently luck was on our side. Most people get to the top to discover nothing but fog over yonder but what we saw was the sun breaking onto the Machu Picchu site. Hallelujah.

And the path continues to weave and wind but it didn't matter, we knew we'd made it. Nothing prepared us for the magnitude of the site. It's enormous. Utterly spectacular, most definitely welcome on the 7 wonders of the world list, if my opinion counts for anything.

"the Village" where the people are thought to have lived

But that wasn't what had me all welled up inside. The fact that the Mom had made it to the place she had marked down on her list of top ten places to see in the world, well you would be a little blubbery inside to, now wouldn't you? Exhaustion, perspiration, elation, time for a beer.

The Mom, conquering another step on her path

And that's what we did. After sitting in silence (amazing I know) taking in the site and sounds surrounding us we got off our dirt soaked bottoms and made our way into town for a well deserved round of iced cold beers.

The final destination


Day three-

"Buenos Dias... Coca Tea???" The morning wake up call came at 6:00am, the latest we were called to action. Long Legs and I had shared a tent, which meant her body took up 2/3rds of the tent so I contorted my body into the open space around the other 1/3rd. It was lucky I'm a yogi?Ninja capable of most feats. No matter, we had to spoon midway through the night to avoid another indoor downpour and the high altitude chill.
"Hermana? (sister) Buenos Dias?" I poked my finger into the sleeping bag bundle next to me.
"Buen dia." She mumbled and pulled her head out of her cocoon.

"Holy SHIT, What happened to your face?"

Probably not the nicest way to wake up. Especially when accompanied with unstoppable hysterics, at which point she bolted out of bed and demanded I tell her what I saw. But I couldn't, I simply couldn't look at her without bursting into a fit of giggles. Until I got hold of my wits. Then I looked into her face and she stared at me... followed by her own outburst of giggles.

"I hope I don't look as bad as you." -- Silenced.

Have you ever seen someone stung by something, right near their eye? Their eye gets all puffy and loses definition, resulting in what I think looks like an elephant face, without the big ears or giant trunk...

Which is how we looked... but much worse.
Our entire crew of porters and trekkers. If you look closely you will see the puffiness.

I do wish I had a picture but I was too horrified. Never in my life had I been so swollen. Even when I gained 20 pounds on a diet of beer. At lease then my eyes weren't melting into my cheeks and nose.

Cloaked in dark glasses and baseball caps we snuck to the bathroom, in hopes of cooling down the inflamed Elephant faces staring back in the mirror. Along the way we met the Mom. Or rather the Elephanted version of the Mom. She too had been diseased with the puffiness, almost beyond recognition. Just another day on the trek to Machu Picchu. Dumdidum.

Sunshine and break on the Inca Trail
The day went up from there, though the trail was downhill. Only a short hike up and the rest of the short 5 hours on the trail was downhill or flat. Rejoice dear hip flexors, Rejoice. We arrived at our final camp by 3pm and discovered HOT. LUSCIOUS. SHOWERS. Well a tepid trickle but still, goodbye raunchy stench, hello tolerable stink.
Another ruin on the way to the big one

I realize the dirt bag look is back in after a decade of being very much out, but I had fallen from the dirt bag greasy look and was purely dirt and grease, and mildew-gym-clothes-in a-gym-bag-kind of stinky.

3 hermanas and our head guide, Marco

While the option of drinking beer (a short aside- in every small town there is always a bar, so is it any wonder someone decided to erect a little joint at the last camping spot before the gate to Machu Picchu), at the local discotheque was appealing I felt it might take away from the whole pilgrimage holy journey thing. so we skipped out. Plus I didn't need a hang over for our 330am wake up call. It would be painful enough.

The littlest Hermana Mags and the support guide, Edwin


UP+DOWN= Day 2

Up is the word of the day on day two. Up is all that anyone really needs to know, except what goes Up must go Down. And Down and Down. And rain jacket on and rain jacket off. And cramp in my leg and cramp in my neck. And who built this friggin' path anyway?

Did I mention my hiking buddy was my older sister Molly? Whose legs reach somewhere around the middle of my ribcage. Whose main idea of fun is to spend hours and hours running along narrow paths fixed to mountainsides. Did I tell you about how she wanted to TIME our hike to the top? Now you know.

However since I was a kid I have had this nattering in my head that insists anything she can do I can do better... or at least DO. First it was tying my shoes and dressing my self, and now it is climbing 900 metres at her set pace. Maybe I'm a masochist?

They called us energizer bunnies

"Every 20mins we need water and a nibble of protein bar," those were long legs words of encouragement when the trail seemed like an unceasing aisle of Upness.

Ah the twenty minute segments... how I loved the moment her watch would beep, and she would thrust her water valve towards me and a piece of dried up fruit and nut bar. Heaven is in that moment... HEAVEN.

Minutes 1 through 20, were focused on breathing, lifting right leg, and then left. Inhale Exhale. Steady now. Find the rhythm. Inhale Exhale. And before long another 20 minutes would pass and I would blink to find a water valve in my face.

Up, Down and a few ruins

As we inched our way along the path, one foot in front of the other, I started thinking about how the uphill hiking was like yoga, which in turn always comes around to Life. It's easy to love something when it's all bubbles and fluff but, it's a bit more challenging to find the joy in the muddy, rainy shit show.

Then the top came into view... barely visible but still very much there. Inhale Exhale. Right then Left. Water, fruity nut bar thing. Inhale, Right Exhale Left...

TOP. Breathe. 900 meters of uphill looks high from up top Dead Woman's Pass, 4315 meters above sea level. And when my mom stepped up to the top I got all choked up and blamed it on the altitude, like I blame my angry outbursts on PMS.

Atop Dead Woman's pass
The trail slid down the mountainside for 400 meters and we stumbled after it. Up it went for a second time, but in a kinder, somewhat gentler way, gentler compared only to the previous pass. And then, our tents were there and the hardest day done and we had all survived. No dead women to report. A good day overall.



Day One

4 am really does come around much quicker than anticipated. No matter how convinced you are that you can spring out of bed, 4am does not inspire springy getting-out-of-bed mode. It is more like shlepping out of bed, groaning ones pack onto ones back and then puttering down the dark streets of Cusco to the main square. Although, if you are the Mom and have just recovered from some unknown gastro disaster which had plagued you for days and left you mute, you would probably try to make up for lost talking time by talking non-stop from the moment your eyes opened. It was only a matter of time really.

That early in the morning, there are only other non-springing trekkers standing around wondering what the hell they were doing up at this hour when they were on holidays. It is a marvel that we would all willingly force ourselves to walk uphill for 4 days, when only a quick boot to the coast would find us on sandy beaches, lulling ourselves to sleep to the sound of waves crashing.
One last bag check before the trailhead
Instead we climb aboard a small bus loaded down with camping equipment and porters dressed in raspberry-coloured hiking suits, all of whom were mysteriously chipper at such an early hour. The ticking roar of the diesel engine signaled our last getaway opportunity had dissolved and we were about to embark on the pilgrimage that the ancient Inca took once a year to the site of Machu Picchu. I figured if a chunky old king of Peru could make the trek, I most certainly would.
Our little trekking family
Except, he apparently was not chubby or old. The Inca (king) was a warrior and conqueror, which made me feel a little inadequate as we started down the trail head hours later. But not to worry because the first day was like a lovely meander through the mountains. A little bit of up a little bit of down and then a fair bit of up, and up, and up. And just when you were starting to doubt your decision... there was the first camp, all set up with a lavish snack feast of salty popcorn, hot cocoa, tea, coffee and drinking water. But the best part was the porters standing around clapping for you as you entered the camp, even thought they were the ones who carried fifty pounds worth of equipment up the steep trail, zipping ahead of the group to set up in time for us to roll into camp. PURE. LOVE.

Day one landscape
With day one checked off the itinerary, we zipped up our tents, snuggled into our sleeping bags and stumbled into sleep before our heads indented our make shift pillows. Only to awaken to the dreaded drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Smack in the middle of my forehead. I girl's gotta love the going with the flow attitude. And the jimmy rigging of a towel cache for the drips. Mmmmm thank goodness for the tired body's ability to quickly lull itself back to sleep. Perhaps it was the 5am wake up call looming or the double pass hike awaiting to be marched. Whatever the case, lightning, thunder and raindrops couldn't rouse us until our tiny porters knocked on our tents and presented us with a steaming cup of Coca tea.
The first Ruin of the trek
When one is presented with hot Coca tea you know it's bound to be a good day.



Hellllooooooo? Is anybody out there?? I'm sorry for postponing this next post until after the holidays, but how the season does catch me up by the ankles and hog tie me in a kind of socializing, over indulging, under achieving, knot.

Anyways I've freed myself from yet another holiday season and am back with more tales from our adventure. Gather round and we'll continue where we left off-- Our arrival in Cusco, & the beginning of the trek to Machu Picchu.
After disembarking from the bus we'd grown to love like a newborn loves the womb, we were feeling out of sorts when our womb spat us to the curb in Cusco, and left us to find our way again. But then came a solution... "no problem, please, I have taxi for you beautiful ladies, anywhere you want to go,". You have to love the peruvian men. Even when our faces were drained of blood & our stomachs furious, they still thought we were beautiful. Being rescued by a wrinkly old taxi driving peruvian had its perks.

Our beds beckoned, so plush, even though the mattresses were solid. Nothing felt better than slipping under the covers. I could have stayed between thosesheets until December, but the universe insisted I meet up with an old pal from a lifetime ago.

The boy who received the last mix tape I ever made was making his way home to England from the Land Down Under, crisscrossing South America with his lovely fiance. And strangely enough, after five years since the last time we saw each other, we happened to be travelling through the same country at the same time. See, insistent Universe.

And one would think after 5 years it might be weird to see the boy who received the last mix tape I ever made, but he was no longer that boy, he was only a very dear friend and I finally got to meet the mystery girl who had stolen his heart, whom I believe is the most perfect match for my friend.

After the reunion I slumped into bed and refused to move from that position until the sun was high above the horizon. Heaven= bed, book, tea. We all felt obligated to cruise through the plazas, making an effort to be touristy, but hanging over our heads was the four day pilgrimage to Machu Picchu and secretly we were all enjoying our last bits of civilized toilets, warm bedding and clean clothes. Pathetic really, but it's true.

Dark smeared the skies long after we'd hopped back into the loving arms of our beds, and s the stars poked through we knew it was time to head to our trekking outfitter's office. Once inside I noticed they locked the doors behind us, perhaps as a way to keep any nervous would-be trekkers from scooting out before the end of the presentation. Seated on hard, orange plastic chairs, 14 people about to take on the Inca trail, sized each other up as a young pot-bellied Peruvian guide named Marco cleared his throat. "Please excuse me if I use words which might offend you, but I speak english as a second language. And know that this isn't the fucking military." Everyone visibly relaxed, sitting back and swallowing the detailed information Marco explained about each day, mile by mile, meter by meter. When he described day two, the brutalist day of the trek, consisting of two passes, the first being Dead Woman's pass 900 meters straight up, Mom stiffened noticeably. I could tell she was worrying. I could practically hear the concerns swimming around her head, wondering if she'd be able to make it, or whether she'd die trying.
But we'd find out soon enough. The plan was to meet in the main square at 4:30 am the following morning. And then there'd be no turning back. Even though all we wanted to do was stay in our lovely beds, we had travelled hundreds of miles to arrive at this place and we were there and committed.

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