I’m back. 2 updates in 2 days, I’ll break out in boils. Well it’s day 2 for the trekkers and this is the hard day so I’m hoping they are all doing well. For me it was pretty cruisy, slept in, went to the post office and then wandered around a bit more. Don’t want to stress myself out too much. 😉
But I was going to waffle about the group etc. As mentioned earlier there are 19 of us plus a tour leader, Sam and driver, Billy. There are 7 Kiwi’s, 5 Irish, 4 Aussies, 2 Poms, 1 Frenchman. Sam is also an Aussie and Billy is South African. I must admit to being surprised that it isn’t a more multi-cultural group. I had expected some Swedes or more Europeans but anyway. The big blue truck is called FRAN. Apparently named after the lady who kept the guys fed when it was being fitted out. Sam is our tour leader as opposed to our tour guide. He makes all the bookings for us, arranges accommodation, buys food for when we are camping or on the road, lets us know where we are meant to be and when, books optional activities for us etc. It isn’t part of his job to give us running commentaries and besides he’s always up front with Billy and the intercom is broken. If we need a pee stop urgently the person up the front sticks their head out the window and yells. The truck is literally just to get us from one town to another to save us using local transport. This way we can leave whenever we want and aren’t subjected to ‘local time’ which can vary from minutes to days. When we do tours to places like Colca Canyon etc we use local tour companies because generally they have it sussed out.
The group ranges in age from 2 20 year olds, to me being the grannie but then I always knew that would be the case. Average age is probably around 30. There is only one couple prior to the trip starting (Kiwi’s) and 2 of the Irish girls have hooked up with 2 of the Kiwi guys. It will end in tears, I can see it now.
It’s kind of strange to think that I’m into week 3. It seems like I’ve been away much longer, so the prediction of it all going really fast hasn’t been correct which is really nice although I can imagine it will go faster towards the end when I really want it to drag. And I’m also enjoying these few days on my own. It’s been nice to sleep in and not have room mates coming home at all hours (we are usually 3 to a room) and also to wander at my own pace. On free days I tend to hang with Matt and sometimes Helen as they are keen to get up early and see things whereas my roomies (Catherine and Lisa) are the party hard girls. Matt is really sweet, he’s only 20 so everyone sort looks out for him and he’s from Forest Lakes in Brisbane
But this place is truly incredible. The scenery is fabulous, the people are amazing. I may have mentioned it in an earlier blog but for me the trip didn’t really begin until we got to Arequipa. Lima was pretty horrible (none of us liked it) and while the beach camping was nice and the sand dunes were great, they both could have been anywhere in the world. Whereas the amazing mountain ranges and the people are just so South American, I can’t really describe it. A lot of the women get round in the traditional costume, they usally want to pose for photos that you have to pay for but in some of the smaller villages they wear this all the time. We are constantly getting hassled by people wanting to flog something and when I take an interest in something in their stall then it really starts. The most annoying are the boys in the Plaza wanting me to buy their paintings that they supposedly did becuase they are studying….studying my butt…..they should be in bloody school but when I say ‘no gracias’ they ask why I don’t like their paintings, or try and start a conversation by asking where I’m from and what’s my name. They’ve given me the shits enough that now I don’t even bother being polite, I just wave them off or ignore them. But it’s their way of making a living and it’s just something we ‘gringos’ have to put with. I was sitting in the Plaza yesterday and this old lady wanted me to buy her dolls (which didn’t interest me in the least) and she had an interesting face so I took her photo and gave her some money instead. They really do things the hard way over here, ploughing fields with yolked ox or totally by hand. The whole family out there working yet they are still happy and really lovely people. On the horse ride yesterday I passed an old man sitting on the side of the road and I nodded and smiled at him and the toothless smile I got back was wonderful.
At one of the ruins sites we were trekking up the side of a sheer cliff face thousands of metres up….okay I’m exaggerating a lot but it felt like it…okay we were going up a path with traffic coming both ways and the people going down were on the drop off side. A South American woman was dragging her child along fairly roughly and one of the Irish guys behind me went crook saying that it was disgusting the way the mother was treating the child and if she was in Ireland she’d get thrown in jail and he made the mistake of asking what I thought. All I could say was that this is South America and we aren’t in Ireland or Australia now, it’s simply the way things are.
At one of the ruins yesterday we were sitting there listening the tour guide tell us tales about how the Incas built these buildings and we were surrounded by stones that weighed over a 100 tonnes and the setting was amazing and suddenly the guides mobile phone rings and he standing there chatting…it just seemed so wrong.
Anyway muy chichos, I have an early start in the morning. I get the 6.30am train to Aguas Caliente where I spend the night and the next morning it’s Machu Picchu by bus. We all get the train back to Cusco that night and have yet another free day in Cusco ( I think that will be hangover recovery day). After that we head to Lake Titicaca region for a couple of days and on to La Paz in Bolivia.
Catch you all later.