Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 16 - Salkantay Begins

The Salkantay Trail is called thus, beecause on Day 2, we get to the foot of Salkantay Mountain, a snow-covered delight, at least by the pictures I´ve seen. Day 2 is also supposed to be the hardest day. But today wasn´t Day 2, it was Day 1, and it started at 3:30 am, when I just happened to wake up. I wouldn´t shower for the coming five days, so I figured what´s another day? Nikhil and Sucharit didn´t agree and they both showered in the morning after waking up the receptionist to turn on the hot water. The bus was supposed to pick us up between 4:20 and 4:40. At 5 am, when the Salkantay representative showed up at our hotel, Sucharit was still showering.

The representative took us to a charter bus, and we slept through the two hour drive to Mollepata, where we´d start our trek. Breakfast was not included in the fare we paid, yet the guide, Edgar, was taking everyone to an overcrowded restaurant. The three of us opted for another eatery next door. We had a hearty breakfast of jammy bread and an omelette, along with a cup of piping mate de coca. I went to join our group waiting outside with one person missing - Sucharit was in the toilet. Shees.

We hiked a total of twenty kilometers today. The uphill was gradual, following a dirt road, but every once in a while we would climb onto a trail in the jungle, huffing our way up the rocks and steep hills. We hiked from 9 in the morning to noon, at lunch till one, and hiked again till 5 pm, when we set up camp. All the walking and physical exhaustion made me lose my apetite. I didn´t finish my lunch nor my dinner. It was a chilly night, and we had popcorn and hot drinks in a dark shed, lit up by a candle and a hanging halogen light bulb. The altitude made me feel nauseous, a problem alleved by stuffing a wad of dry coca leaves in my cheek and letting the juices work their magic. Our tents had been set up for us, but we had to make our beds with sleeping bags and mattresses.
Day: A-
Me: B+

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