View from the hill!

View from the hill!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A rough beginning

It never ceases to amaze me just how unorganized life is in South America. Simply getting on the road for my Inca Jungle tour was quite an interesting experience. A taxi arrived at my hostel just after 7am to pick me up. I was pleasantly suprised to learn that the two Aussie surfers waiting in the lobey would be going on the trip with me. After a short taxi ride through town we were dropped off in a little alley and told to wait. Wait for what, we were not sure. After a good 45 minutes we were then picked up by a second taxi and driven to another strange location. Here we waited for our van and the taxis to arrive with the other passengers. Close to 9am we were finally ready to head out on the road into the inca forest.

The two hour drive was gorgeous, however, as we passed the Sacred Valley and climbed up into the Malaga High Pass, at 14,850 feet the clouds grew thicker and the rain began. Starting with a light sprinkle, by the time we got to our biking location it was a full on soaking rain. We changed into our rain gear and got our safety briefing. We would be biking down the main road for 2 hours to get into the jungle. Being a busy and narrow road we had to stay as close to the right side as possible and really watch out for oncoming traffic as we went around the hairpin turns. After about 10 minutes one member of our group had their first accident, he went into the ditch on the side of the road breaking the bike and putting a nice hole in his pants. This meant that we were one bike short so our guide would be driving in the van behind us and meet us at the bottom.

The weather made this trip absolutely miserable, we could only see about 5 feet ahead of us and the rain was coming down so hard that your eyes were just constantly filled with water. With frozen fingers we continued down the mountain for 2 hours, the entire way I was trying to think of a time in my life that I was more miserable and nothing came to mind. The rest of the group zoomed ahead of me as I stayed slow and steady around the turns with tractor trailers and buses honking at me every few minutes. I found myself singing "This is the ride that never ends, oh yes it goes on and on my friends..." Just in case we were not wet enough, we had several "river crossings" because there was so much rain the many waterfalls on the way were overflowing onto the street causing 3 foot deep river crossings that we had to ride through. Finally, the van with our guide inside pulled up next to me and told me to get off my bike. Apparently we were at the end of the ride, however, the rest of the group was no where in sight. They were going to fast and continued 45 minutes longer than they were supposed to. They ended up going through a construction sight and by the time we found them were covered from head to toe in mud. I guess it pays to be slow and be the last one down the mountain!

For some crazy reason I thought that at the end of this horrible bike ride we would go somewhere nice for lunch, I had invisioned a restaurant with a warm fireplace and possibly some soup and hot chocolate. Boy was I wrong. We instead stood out in the rain and were handed a plastic bag which contained our lunch. As if we were not cold, wet and miserable enough, we all had to stand outside for a half hour as we ate a roll with a piece of cheese on it, cookies and a chocholate bar.

It had only been a couple hours into our Inca journey and I had decided there was no way I could handle three more days like this, in the rain. The Aussie boys had signed up for the 3 day, 2 night trip (which basically just eliminates the second day of hiking) so I thought I could simply stay with them and cut one day out of my trip. I asked my guide, Sanuel if this would be ok and he explained it was not possible.

As we drove to the Jungle Village of Santa Maria we had our first mudslide spottings. There were "mudslide police" on the side of the road and every few feet we would be asked to pull over if they suspected a mudslide was about to begin. There was also some major construction going on so we would often have to pull over and wait for 15-30 minutes to let the workers get through.

When we finally arrived at our hostel for the night I was still freezing and soaking wet, after seeing our accomodation for the night I decided there was no way I could stay there. We were staying at someones house and although we did have a bed it was extremly "basic." I found Sanuel and again tried to beg him to let me leave and go with the Aussies, he refused and told me I had to choice, I had to stay. The rest of my group went out white water rafting, but after being soaking wet all day and seeing the Rio Urubamba (the very rapid brown water was not the most appealing) I decided to forgo this option and instead spent the next 3 hours pouting in my nasty room. I didnt take any books or even my journal so I just layed on the bed and waited.

That night we took a short walk to a restuarant in town where we had another meal of rice and llama.

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