Hike//Bike - Peru Style
Recently, 5 friends and I (all from the CIEE Chile/Spain gap group to be specific) headed to Peru for an 8 day trip. The trip included a 4 day, 3 night Inca trail expedition in the heart of Cusco, Peru. This blog entry details our first two days on the trip.
On Saturday, we scrambled out of bed at 6 and left our hostel to go to Lorenzo’s house (the event coordinator) for breakfast. I hogged the peanut butter, and we all enjoyed traditional Peruvian bread (which is a kind of softer, thinner, round bread than the typical Chilean “pan batido”) with eggs, bananas and jam. Then, we all gathered around to hear some of the plans for later, and piled in the car with 15 new friends to start the bike tour. At the top of the Mountain, El Nevado Verónica, also known as Wakaywillque, we geared up for an intense, drenching rain descending 36 mile ride to the bottom for lunch. The road we rode on was extremely safe, except for some terrifying tour busses that would swerve by and leave a cloud of gas that left you gasping for air minutes after they passed, and the occasional puddle and construction hazards that left my shoes/clothes absolutely saturated with mud and water. When I finally got to our meeting spot for lunch, I noticed everyone wringing out their shoes and walking around barefoot, the after effects of what felt like our own Hurricane Sandy. After an amazing lunch of fried broccoli, soup, and beef and rice, we headed to the hostel. We had a lazy night ahead of us, and went to bed full, and had a relaxing and restful sleep. We woke up to screams the next morning, however, when Michelle discovered that a cockroach had fallen on her head at around 5:30 in the morning. Later, the british boys Tom and Alex in our group joked that she had been a great alarm clock for the whole hostel. The day continued with a….
If a 12 hour, ascending in elevation, 80 percent humidity, 90 degree weather, mosquito infested hike sounds like fun to you, you might be a gap student.
But the hike was definitely the most rigorous I have ever done, mainly because of the extra 25 pounds due to us carrying all of our stuff with us (and I was stupid enough to pack not only my DSLR but my Canon camera as well, along with various beauty products as well.. never again). Michelle and I took the hardest parts slowly, talking and laughing about our struggles in Spanish with our Peruvian guide Steven the whole time, and at one point he took both our bags (without asking) and sprinted up the steepest, rockiest part without a word, leaving us gasping in disbelief about how out of shape we must be. The trek took us through canyons, beautiful views of the jungle interior, dry river beds, swimming holes, and up ancient Inca trails. However, I started feeling exhausted on the way to lunch. When we finally arrived at the small village where we were going to eat, my friend Clay shot me a serious look and said, “Wilbur just told me we’re skipping lunch.” My face fell, and two of my other friends started cracking up at my expression and Clay’s very unfunny joke… however, lunch revived all our spirits and we continued the hike without a problem. About ¾ of the way through the hike, we crossed a river using a very old pulley/ cable car system. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, as we were 50 feet up from the churning rapids, a buzzing hornet’s nest, and a group of Peruvian men attempting to cut a stuck log with a chain saw… definitely an unforgettable experience. The happiest moment of the hike was climbing down the hill to the hot springs at Santa Maria- Michelle and I hiked our bags farther up our shoulders and ran down it in happiness, whooping and hollering the whole time. After a great swim in the natural hot springs, I caved in and bought a Coke and Reese’s (I know, how American of me..) and nearly cried from how good it tasted after all our trekking that day. We had another early night to bed in the hostel, and drifted off to sleep stuffed and content.
WHERE WE WENT