Erin's Great South American Extravaganza travel blog

Because of my bad luck and long series of ''it could only happen to me'' moments, I''ve been told many times that that I could write my own book on the embarassing and unfortunate experiences in the life of Erin....Let me tell you guys- if the book ever gets written there will be a whole chapter about my four days on the Inca Trail.....

Although I was aware that it is rainy season in Peru- I had no idea what rainy season actually entailed and had never, ever heard of the GAP 24 hour challenge!

Wait a minute...I better back it up and start at the beginning....

We were picked up saturday a.m. at our hotel in Cusco by Freddy (our guide for the next 5 days) and spent the day touring ruins in the Cusco and Sacred Valley areas. He dropped us off in the small town of Ollantytambo where we were to spend the night before heading out on the Inca Tail in the morning...since there were no t.v.''s in the room we decided to go out for a bite to eat and one glass of wine....not sure at which point the intinerary changed to ''pub crawl in Ollantytambo''! Our only saving grace was that the pubs closed at 1000 p.m......we ended the night in a small corner shop purchasing bamboo walking sticks and learning an ancient, elderly Quechua dance under the careful direction of our GAP leader Guido and the singing of the shopkeeper! In the meantime we convinced Guido to purchase rum for the trail using GAP money (apparently there is money in the budget for special occasions) claiming that it was the anniversary of the cool elderly couple travelling with us...they just didn''t know it yet- so smart...we even had the reciept drawn up to show champagne....THANK GOD FOR THE RUM ON THE INCA TRAIL-LITTLE DID WE KNOW THAT IT WAS THE ONLY THING GOING TO KEEP US WARM (no lie) FOR THE NEXT THREE NIGHTS!!!!

So, Sunday (day 1)we began the 42km Inca Tail ...the weather was great and we were all smiles and laughter-unaware of what was to come....The porters were incredible, carrying up to 42kg of supplies on their backs and running the trail in little sandals...charging ahead to have food and tea ready for you when you arrived at camp! Then night fell...3 girls (2 whom have never camped before) and the rain began...

Now this is no ordinary camping...there are no showers, no power sites, no camp-fires and outhouses? ..I wish! There are small holes in the ground and places to put your feet- how your supposed to squat down to pee in thos holes after you have hiked all day and your thighs are quivering? I may never know...

Day 2 started with a light shower and progressed into a steady shower that never ended...At the top of Dead Womans Passs (4200 meters) {which let me tell you would be a struggle to get to on the best of days}, my rain poncho ripped (peice of shit wallmart purchase that I have literally carried with me from Bonnyville for this single purpose) So I ended up tieing the peice of shit around my waist to give my legs some protection from the rain and put on my sun cap (yeah...a big, ugly wide brimmed hat that cost me about two dollars, that I had bought in anticipation of sunshine and warm weather....always the optimist....RIGHT) to shield my head ......BELIEVE IT OR NOT,THIS WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF MY FASHION STATEMENT ON THE INCA TRAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By day 3 at 0930 my trekking pants were soaking wet (we had been hiking since 0500)and Guido our tour leader joked that I could wear his football (meaning soccer) pants- adidias capris (for men of course, but lets all keep in mind that he is probably 6 ft tall) and, so, there you have it- the famous trail of the Incas and Erin in mens capri, to compound this look- Rourke (the older gentlemen) lent me his bright red rain pants! Together, the two crotches of these pants hung down to my knees and chaffed (not sure how to spell that, but I''m sure you''ll all get the picture) my inner thighs for the next 6 hours on the trail! My hands were freezing cold to the point of being numb...luckily Sabrina lent me one of her mitts (mine never survived the first night in the tent-a whole other story that I am quite bitter about) but within an hour or so it was soaked, mustering up all of my CLASS- I got my dry pair of socks out of my bag, covered them with plastic bags and perservered! I HATE TO SAY IT- BUT I MAY HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN THE LAUGHING STOCK OF THE GRINGO TRAIL!

Now if it could get any worse- and it did....Night 3 I began throwing up (I could blame it on pure misery, but I am 100% sure that it was bad karma since I had mentioned earlier in the day that Sabrina and I had so far survived Brail, Bolivia and Peru without being sick from the food, which by the way is unheard of down here...)

When wake-up call came at 0400 on day 4- I was beyond CRANKY! But like the champ I am- I put on my soaking wet clothes, rolled up my soaking wet sleeping bag and threw my soaking wet backpack over my shoulder... two hours until I would arrive at Machu Piccu- then a quick tour..a train ride and back to civilization (showers....shelter and running water- PARADISE)!

After hiking the past 2 days in fog and mist, we really had no idea how high we were or what the terrain surrounding us looked like- literally all we saw was the trail and the one or two people hiking ahead of us....but when we arrived at Macchu Piccu- the rain miraculously stopped, the mist lifted and like proper tourists- we were finally able to take some pictures! AND I HATE TO SAY IT- BUT IT WAS ALL WORTHWHILE! We were able to bum around the site for awhile (it was beyond impressive) before the rain started again!

So with the Inca trail behind us- we still had one more challenge ahead of us: The GAP 24 hour challenge....staying up 24 hours from the time of the wake-up call on day 4 (till 0400 the next morning)....after returning to Cusco and having a hot shower, clean clothes and some greasy food (obviously my guts were much improved by this time) we felt confident (I should actually say STUPID enough) to accept the challenge! Trust me, this challenge was far easier to achieve than climbing the Inca Trail...between an Irish Pub (pre- St. Patty''s day celebration) and 2 discos- four o''clock came and went with surprising ease....until we had to check out of our hotel room at 1000 the next morning with only 5 hours of sleep that is!

Anyways, we have now arrived in Ariquepa -I avoided a dodgy (european term for ''risky'')massage (long story for another day) and will tour the Colca Canyon for the next few days and rest up for St. Patty''s day!

Thinking of you all and wish you all well- have a green beer for me!

See you super soon...

xoxoxoxo E

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