Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Inca Trail and all the Rest

Right now, I´m sitting in a little internet hole in the wall in Cuzco, Peru. I actually don´t know exactly how to get back to my hotel... I think its around here somewhere... and am typing carefully as to not aggravate the pictures I am uploading to facebook. I could be back using one of the programs laptops, but I like exploring the city on my own anyway... and today I decided I could use a little ME time. YAY:) 

Alright. SO basically, YESTERDAY... I finally arrived after four days of hiking to the top of Machu Picchu and saw the most beautiful ruins and scenery I have ever witnessed. Without a doubt, Machu Picchu deserves the title of a ¨Wonder of the World¨. It truly is incredible. The four day trip to finally arrive and enjoy the site was what made looking at over hundreds of years of history and breathtaking views all the better. 

Day one, Nicki Magill saved my life. I´m not kidding. The two of us were treking near the back, walking nice and moderatley after a delicious lunch. We were walking and chatting, when all of the sudden, I lost footing and slipped. I slipped down the mountain, with no control of stopping. I saw my life flash before my eyes (not really, so I guess I´m not ready to die) but after my life fake flashed before my eyes, I finally opened them and saw that Nicki had grabbed my arm. I was dangling from edge of the mountain. I started to scream... NICKI HOW FAR IS THE DROP. NICKI. NICKI!!!!!!!. I was beginning to panic and wonder if this was actually how I was going to die. Fortunately, Wilder, our guide and my program leader Andrew were close behind and saw the whole incident. Within thirty seconds, both of them came to my aid and pulled me up by my arms. After I was finally back on the trail... I looked down at the cliff I had almost lost my life to... Okay. Here´s the big confession... There was a level place where I definetly could have landed about 10 feet below the trail. But I didn´t know it at the time, and refused to look below me while I was attached to the mountain and my life by Nicki´s hand. SO, in short, I was no where near death, but thought I was. Either way, I owe Nicki Magill my life. 

The second day, was referred to as ¨The Challenge¨. This day was the day we were going to hit our peak elevation... About 4,200 meters or 13,000  feet. When I heard we were going to have to climb up to a height above the height where I jumped out of a plane when I went sky diving (about 12,500 feet) I just about died. That height I knew, for lack of a better expression, was pretty damn high. The hike began about 6 am. Before long, we were all moving (or not moving) at our own pace. MY best friend, my ipod, came out and I strapped her to my arm. I love my ipod and all she contains. Without her, I would not have been able to achieve the challenge of dead woman´s pass. I, not the pass, would have became the dead woman. I climbed, and climbed. Mountain trail turned into stairs.... Stairs I thought would end. But, they never did. Not even my six years at the LCHS campus could have prepared me for the climb I took a few days ago. There. Were. SO. Many. Freakin. Stairs. My inhaler became an accessory of my pocket. I needed it often. The altitude killed. I would breathe, and no air would seemingly fill my lungs. I was struggling, but I kept climbing. I kept passing a young looking red head. She would then, in turn, pass me when I stopped. After a few times, we both finally stopped together and began to talk. Her name was Katie, and she was from England. She lived on a farm, which she claimed was about five feet above sea level. She was very good humored and liked to talk. Along with my ipod, Katie quickly became my other friend to reach the top with me. When we finally reached the top, we high fived. Its funny, you can meet someone on a mountain, talk to them for an hour or so, really never learn anything all that significant about them, but at the end, be pretty certain that you will remember them for the rest of your life. 

After climbing to the insane elevation and the top of the pass, I was filled with energy. On the decline, I decided I wanted to run. So... I began to run. I ran past our assisstant guide, Jesus (pro-nounced HAY-Zues, I´m not making a spiritual reference here) and he began to run with me. We ran, and ran. Gaining momentum, and cheers from those we passed, we kept booking it until we heard our names shouted from above. One of our own had been hurt. Both of us ditched our backpacks and began to run back up to the incident. I, of course, could not get there all THAT fast (running downhill is much more my thing) but by the time I got there, I learned that Maggie had severly sprained her ankle. However, Maggie is a champ and still hiked the next two days on it. Love her. 

Day three... was long. But the most worthwhile. We hiked about nine miles that day, but not at all the uphills or the elevations of the day before. At the end of the day, I was able to percieve the absolute most gorgeous sight of my life. I am attaching a picture here. Enough said. 

After our long day of treking, we made tea for our porters and got to know them a little bit. We didn´t call them porters though, we only called them ¨Waikis¨ a term that means friends. They, after all, were our friends. They carried all the heavy things we so desperatley needed. These guys were incredible. They ran the trail each day, carrying insane amounts of weight, ranging from ages 18 to 54 in our group alone. I have no idea how they do their jobs. I guess each year they have a marathon on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (its 26 miles) and the fastest guy runs it in 3 hours 45 minutes. Absolutley insane. 

Our last day began at 330 in the morning. It was PAINFUL to wake up that early. We hiked for about 2 hours, and finally got to Machu Picchu around 7 in the morning. It was awesome. I felt SO accomplished. However, I hated how touristy it was... There are trains you can take up to the mountain... and all those people really pìssed me off. For some reason, I felt more entitled to take pictures, and take in the scenery than them. Admittedly, a little immature of me, but whatever, life goes on and I still loved it. 

Coming back from the mountain, I picked up a shirt that says I survived the inca trail. Like most other things I packed, its teal. Side note... I packed SO many articles of teal clothing, I think its a blessing in disguise I lost my teal jacket and replaced it with a red one. 

The train ride home was a blast. I got to hang out with the cutest baby I´ve ever seen, play cards, and made friends with those who sat around us. 

By the time we got back, I gorged myself on pizza and fell into a deep slumber. 

Tomorrow, we begin our three days of travel. 
We fly from Cuzco to Lima, Lima to San Jose, San Jose to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Shanghai, Shanghai to Kunming. Leaving November 3rd at 6 am and arriving in Kunming sometime in the wee hours of November 6th. Its gonna be a doozy. 

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