My friend Rindee arrived in Lima on the night of my birthday party. She got in late enough that she didn't get to participate in any festivities, but she did get some food and leftover cake. :-)
The next morning she and I were scheduled to fly out to Cuzco to begin our adventure. It was at this point that my vacation ended and my adventure began. Laugh at the picture all you want, but I was a bit stressed. Rindee thought this was hilarious and couldn't help but take a picture. Brat. I kept saying, "I can't believe we're doing this." Rindee wasn't quite as stressed. I blame the fact that I had planned everything and was hoping that it would all go smoothly.
Rindee was just being where she was told to be at the time she was told to be there. She was much more optimistic and excited to be on our way. If I was a person who held grudges (ahem) I would surely still hold this against her. As it is, we went through enough that I can forgive the fact that she got a cute airport picture, and I got an "on the verge of psychosis" airport picture. Not to worry, the pictures got worse.
It turns out that the hike we booked may as well have been named "The Inca Trail for Dummies." All we had to do was get ourselves to Cuzco, and they took care of the rest - from picking us up at the airport when we arrived and taking us to our hostel, to picking us up from our hostel the next morning and getting us on our way.
We spent the majority of the day in Cuzco wandering around the city and acclimating to the elevation.
We had chosen wisely when finding our hostel and were only a couple of blocks away from the main plaza (Plaza de Armas.) We walked at a leisurely pace and avoided big hills or stairs, but I still had a tougher time with the altitude than Rindee did. We both felt short of breath, but I definitely had a headache that I could not shake. I also did not sleep well that night - a symptom of altitude sickness because your body isn't getting as much oxygen as it's used to and basically freaks out and wakes you up to avoid death.
Okay, that was overly dramatic. I wasn't close to death. But I was definitely not feeling normal.
Nevertheless, we both felt normal enough to find the main market where we purchased some apples and bread for breakfast the next morning, and each bought a serving of freshly made juice. I say "serving" and not "glass" because if you want it "to go" you get to take it in a plastic baggie as pictured. (You like my jacket? Really? Good. You'll be seeing a lot of it.)
The next morning, we were picked up at 6:45am. After a stop on the way to purchase last minute items (walking sticks and a poncho for Emily) we arrived at 82km and the official start of the Inca Trail. I estimate the number of time that I said, "I can't believe we're doing this" upwards of 500. Seriously. We were so excited to get started. I remember our guide coming around and checking out our packs. When he picked mine up, he sort of grimaced. "Is it heavy?" I asked, "mas or menos" he answered with a grin. His grin became familiar over the course of the hike. I eventually learned that it always meant he wasn't telling me something. At that point, I decided to disregard the implication. The average pack weighs between 6-8 kgs. My pack was 12.5lbs when weighed in the States, so I figured that was right where I needed to be. Later, I could only wonder what on EARTH possessed me to think I could handle myself and a 12lb pack. Ugh.
These first few pictures crack me up. Our smiles are so happy.
We started taking pictures immediately. The views were awesome, if a little cloudy. I was completely content. I remember telling Rindee that I really hoped that I wasn't the slowest person in our group.
I mean, there HAD to be at least one person slower than me, right? The second picture here was taken as an "action shot." It was pretty much my view for the entire hike.
Hey! I have short legs!
Besides, our guide stated at the beginning that he always stayed at the back - behind the last person. Theoretically, this was to ensure that everyone made it okay. Realistically, it just meant that the guide, Diego, and I became pretty good buddies.
Okay - more later. Emily's tired. Must sleep.