June 15, 2008
Cabs, Cows and Caves
Well, today was a tough day. It started with a lovely breakfast before we had to say goodbye to our beloved Ninos Hotel. I am really going to miss this place! We taxied all of our gear to our new hotel and met the rest of our group.
There are 12 of us in all and everyone looks very fit! We range in age from 25 to 60 and everyone seems very cool. Our guide is a handsome, young local man with a winning smile and a wicked sense of humor. Have you ever noticed that tour guides are almost always like that?
We started the day with a walk through the market. I assumed that we would be going to a tourist market, but when we got there, it was quickly evident that no tourist in their right mind would ever come here! We entered to stacks of boiled guinea pigs and piles of cow parts. ALL the parts! There was every type of animal part there in big heaps. I even saw a water buffalo nose!!
All that meat and not an ice cube or piece of saran wrap in sight! I am definitely not in Kansas anymore!
The market also had fruits, vegetables, fish eyes, breads, etc. But it is all that gross stuff that really stuck with me. Strange place to go before lunch, huh? But that is exactly where we went next! Lunch was uneventful, and afterwards we did a big, uphill hike. Did I mention that it was big? And of course, Arturo wanted us to hike together, so everytime I would get to the top of the rise, the group would be waiting for me. That part I really hate.
We went to a place called Sauchy Wyman, (I am pretty sure that I spelled that wrong but it is pronounced “Sexy Woman”). This is an amazing Incan temple that overlooks the city and once I got there, I really loved it!
I should have known that it couldn’t all be frolicing through the ruins…..Arturo led us over to a dark hole in the ground and said, “Now we go through the Incan tunnels”. I am not afraid of mountains or bears or sleeping alone in the woods. I am not afraid to travel to remote corners of the earth by myself. I am, however, VERY afraid of dark, enclosed spaces…like caves. I questioned Arturro carefully…Do I have to go through? Yes. Can I go around? No. is it nice and big? No, it is very small and tight. He actually said that!!! This was NOT on the itinerary.
Finally, Natalie said she would lead me through while Julia and Sharon followed. Natalie kept up a running stream of, “It is a sharp turn left here, step down just about here, duck down..it gets really low here…”, and I just followed in the pitch dark. About half way through, I really thought I was going to lose it and it was only the thought of my friends behind me, and the fact that I didn’t want them to have to wade through my lunch, that kept me calm. It felt like we were in there for hours, but Arturo said that it was about 2 minutes. When I came out into the sun, everone clapped for me and I just tried not to cry. I hate caves!
Luckily, that was the last major event of the day and the hike home was nice, even though I was still shaking from the adrenaline.
You may notice that I only mentioned Julia and Sharon on the hike. That is because Deb is pretty sick. She has altitude sickness. She has been doing well all week, but this morning she woke up feeling really badly. She decided to forgo the days activities in the hopes that she will be well enough to hike the Incan Trail in two days so cross your fingers and say a prayer for her!