A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random global adventures,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

inca trail adventures: day 1

well dear blog readers, i am back from my adventure trekking through the andes.  so much has happened and i have several hundred pictures to sort through, but hopefully i can give you some interesting tidbits.

we were picked up at 5 am on the first day, and then i promptly fell asleep as soon as we were in the van.  about an hour later we went to what was referred to by our fearless guide as "porter village."  you see, there are porters.  now, don't get the wrong idea about the bolshevik and i.  we didn't hire any porters.  oh no.  that would have been sensible.  instead, we decided to be a couple of badasses and carry all our personal items ourselves.  but the porters carried the tents, kitchen supplies, food, etc.

anyhoo, at around 6 am we arrive in a small town where many of the porters live, and we are told that we will be having breakfast in one of their homes.  porter village is pretty much a dirt road town, with houses constructed from bricks made out of mud.  we walk through the town and there are chickens and donkeys and dogs roaming the streets. the bolshevik and i were particularly taken with this donkey that looked like he was trying to disguise himself as a bush, like they used to do in old looney tunes cartoons.

the house we had breakfast in was pretty much one large room with a dirt floor.  in one end of the house was a "kitchen" consisting of a hot plate and a brick oven.  in the center of the room was a long table for eating, with benches covered in llama fur.  then behind the table was a cushioned area for sleeping.  our tour group sat around the table eating a lovely breakfast of breads and cheeses and potatoes and corn, and of course, coca tea.  while dining, we notice a lot of free range guinea pigs scurrying around on the floor.  we were informed that these were called cuy and that on special occasions they would be eaten for dinner.  poor little cuy.

and then we were off!

the first day of our hike was the easiest.  much of it was walking on a flat dirt path, which afforded us such spectacular views as this one.  if you look closely, you can actually see a glacier in the background behind the clouds.

we also would pass by very small farming communities on the way, many of which set up little stands selling water and other bottled drinks, as well as snacks.  i was surprised to see civilization while on the hike, but it really only lasted the first and second day.  after that, we were in no-man's land.

now let me explain a little something about the porters.  they range in age from about 20 to 60, and every single one of them is a super jedi master.  these guys were incredible. each of them carried huge sacks on their backs, containing several people's backbacks, sleeping bags, etc.  other porters carried huge office-sized water cooler bottles on their backs, tents, food, cooking implements, etc.  not only were they carrying about 30 pounds of stuff each, but they flew up the mountain.  FLEW!  we'd be trudging along and then all of a sudden a porter would be right on top of us trying to get around our sorry asses.

anyway, at lunch time we would stop at these little camping grounds along the way and by the time we got there the porters would have already set up dining room tents (we ate in a dining room!), created a temporary kitchen, and had lunch underway.  our meals were amazing.  i wish i had a picture of them but i was too mesmerized by the movable feast before me to stop and get my camera.  we typically had a soup (different soups each day), bread, cheeses, salads, a vegetarian option or two, meats, pastas, rice, etc.  then we would have some coca tea before heading back onto the trail.  their culinary accomplishments were truly incredible.  better than some restaurants. 

on day one, we also passed some inca sites.  many of these sites are inaccessible unless you do a multi-day hike like we did.  so we felt pretty cool about that.

then, after 12 km of hiking, we made it to our camp.  now we didn't realize how quickly it gets dark in the mountains.  but the sun sets at about 5:30 and by 6:30 it's pitch black outside.  we had imagined that we'd be up at night reading books by flashlight, or playing cards by a fireside.  but after dinner, we promptly passed out.

end of day one.


  1. Welcome back! I'd heard about these amazing porters & their billy goat-on-speed-like abilities on even the most treacherous stretches. Day one sounds awesome & now I'm on the edge of my seat for Day 2!