Peru 2005 Day Ten: Cusco to the Inca Trail

by Kara on July 31, 2005

This is our guide, Narciso. Yes, I know it's a picture of his back, but I thought it was a beautiful photo.

This is our guide, Narciso. Yes, I know it's a picture of his back, but I thought it was a beautiful photo.

Somehow we managed to get ourselves going in the morning and headed out to Kilometer 88, where our trek would begin. We picked up our trekking partners, Eric and Claire on the way, and we all disembarked together at Kilometer 88. This was my first clue that I may have made an error in judgment. In planning our trip, I included the Inca Trail trek because I thought EVERYONE did it, and it was listed as moderately strenuous. When we got off the PACKED train, it was just us – everyone else took the train directly up to Machu Picchu. I wondered what they knew that I didn’t. Maybe I should have taken the small avalanche that hit our train car earlier that morning as a sign. Earlier, we heard a loud bang and then the train stopped. They had to clear debris off the tracks from the avalanche. When we got off the train, it was clear from the piles of dirt on the steps that our train car bore the brunt of the avalanche.

We got our things settled into our tent, then headed for morning tea. The campsite was run by a man who had moved to Peru from Germany, and it had a nice dining area, as well as the best toilet facilities we would encounter on our trek.

The manager was a skilled carpenter and his tables reminded me of my Swedish grandfather’s carpentry style. We discussed this a bit, and I happened to mention that my grandfather and his father built much of my mother’s hometown. Claire politely inquired about my mother’s hometown and when I responded that it was Mount Pleasant, Iowa, their jaws both dropped open. Eric is from Mt. Pleasant as well. That is not the end of it though. I mentioned Eric’s parents’ names to my Mom when I called her a few days later from the Lima airport. Not only did she know his parents, but it also turns out we are related! My family has had an annual family reunion every year since 1900, and Eric’s mother was actually the secretary for the reunions for a number of years. I later found out that our Great Great Grandfathers were brothers. I still can’t believe we ended up in the same group!

After our morning snack, we set out on an approximately four mile hike around the Q’Ente ruins. A lot of this was uphill and I struggled with breathing in that altitude, not least because I had a cold. Apparently my nose turned a bit blue from lack of circulation, but I managed the hike. I tend to be overly cautious when hiking downhill/downstairs because I always feel like I am going to fall, so Narciso recommended a walking stick for me so I would have more confidence that I wouldn’t fall. I was pretty winded when we made it back for lunch, but it wasn’t too bad. However, when we sat down to lunch, I didn’t have much of an appetite. For dinner that night, I enjoyed some fabulous pumpkin soup and managed to eat a little of the beef they served.

Our tents were nice and roomy. It wasn’t too cold at that altitude and we didn’t have too much trouble falling asleep.

Check out more of Stephen’s pictures of Peru.

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