|After a very hearty breakfast I set off on my hike. First the path was a clay path and I passed men going to work with picks walking and riding up the hills on their horses. I quickly realised that the path was not that easy to follow and I was often stopping people to check I was going in the right direction. It didn't take long until I was feeling a little queasy and then was violently ill. After semi recovering I rounded the corner to greet a very old hunched over lady carrying twigs who had a long conversation with me. I only wish I could have understood it...it was something to do with her family...by the look of her they were working her too hard. The woman I photographed with her cows was herding them along the path in front of me. I got quite lost finding the path down to the valley and ended up walking to a dead end with sheer cliffs and peoples houses. I ended up having to go back to a families house and they got their adolescent daughter to walk with me to show me where the path started. She wouldn't talk to me in true teenage form. But I was so grateful for her showing me the way down the hill I paid her some dineros. About three generations were living in a one room house so they needed the money. I was really grateful to make it down to the bottom of the hill but had to walk,crawl and duck walk (yes duck walked) over the swing bridge because it didn't have many uprights. I then staggered up,up,up over the hill getting lost a couple of times and was breathless and very relieved to make it to the top. The top meant all I had to do was follow the road into Chugchilan. At the top of the hill I met a woman with her donkey and son who had a conversation with me about where I was from and did I have children. She lived in the village and the bottom of the valley. It seems nothing for these people (the Quechua) to walk miles to get anywhere. I was very glad they weren't there to see me crossing the swing bridge. Once I hit the road to Chugchilan I thought I was literally doing a marathon. I staggered on passing an old Quechua couple,the woman walking 3 paces behind the man strapped to the gunnel's with chickens. When I arrived in Chugchilan the hotel owners saw me crawling along and came running out and threw open the room I was staying in and were suitably sympathetic that my walk had been so long. That night it was another 3 course meal with local Italians who live in the area,an Australia couple and their Ecuadorian guide and a Quebec family travelling together. It was that night I knew the true meaning of altitude sickness....