SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, 2007. INCA TRAIL DAY ONE. Forty five minutes late, a guide met me at my hostel and we walked around the corner where I met six Argentineans who would be my trek mates over the next four days. Their names were John Paul, Pablo, Agustin, Martin, Rafael, and Gaston. We boarded a bus and were followed by a dozen Argentinean chicas (girls). Elisa, one of the Argentinean chicas, sat next to me and we chatted for the two hour bus ride from Cuzco to Ollantaytambo. At the trailhead, kilometer 82 on the rail line, I met the rest of our group--four other Argentineans (Evangelina, Hernan, Maria, and Pilar), one Chilean (Ximena), and one German (Uwe)--for a total of 13. Our guide's name was Edwin. Everyone spoke Spanish except Uwe and me. I later learned from Edwin that most trekkers during the rainy season are from Latin America, particularly Argentina. We ate lunch prepared by our cook and ten porters before beginning what would be a short, two hour, six kilometer hike to our first night's camp site at kilometer 88 on the rail line. We stopped at a couple of small Inca ruins, with Edwin provided explanations first in Spanish and then in English (for Uwe and me). At our campsite, Edwin assigned me to the tent with Maria and Pilar. This came as a bit of a surprise to me as I was told by my agency that it would be two people per tent. Alas, I had to share it with two Argentinean chicas. Sometimes one has to make sacrifices in life.
In the evening, we had coffee and tea in our dining tent, where more formal introductions were made. Unfortunately for me and Uwe, the conversations were difficult to follow since they were largely in Spanish. After tea, we were served dinner--soup as an appetizer, and trout for the main course. The food was delicious and surpassed my expectations. I called it an early evening and went to bed shortly after dinner.