18.06.2011 - 26.06.2011 24 °C
So everyone I just want to say a really big thank you for actually reading my blog, do not worry, I do not plan to waste much more of your time as this will be my last entry. To tell the truth I am a little relieved that this is the last and I am sure that all of you who have felt obliged to read each one have let out quite a sigh right now, or maybe not if it has proved a great distraction/ procrastination tool at work or for revision. I actually get figures about who reads the blog and there are some real regulars so again I express my gratitude. To finish I will just give you a quick run through of what I have been up to for the last week in Peru and then I promise you are free, or you could just stop reading now.
So of course I had to visit the standard Cuzco and walking into the Plaza de Armas I didn´t realise that there would be so many festivities- as I turned the corner there were masses of people and a carnival taking place with loads of floats and music. My favourite had to be the giant guinea pigs that looked quite evil, does this justify me eating one in Lima in the next couple of days? Sorry to all guinea pig lovers, but if they are too small/cute/furry for you then Alpaca meat is a really tasty alternative! I also strolled along Loroto, which is lined with Inca walls, and had a look in the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus. There were so many people my movements were pretty restricted so I just soaked up the atmosphere.
I then decided to do something a little bit more useful with my time and do some volunteering with an orphanage/school in Tambomachay and with the flood victims of The Sacred Valley. It wasn´t terribly taxing, a lot of sorting through donated items and carrying heavy bags to different buildings, but it was made a lot more difficult due to the altitude. It was really nice to meet the locals and be welcomed into their homes to catch a glimpse of their daily lives. Talk about simple living conditions and yet they were still so insistent to use the little money that they had to buy us food and drink to show their gratitude. It was such a nice gesture but the drink that we were given, Chicha, I really didn´t like. It is a corn bear that was given a strawberry flavour and they gave it to us in glasses that were about 1 litre, I am not exaggerating, so you couldn`t just gulp it down and get it over and done with one "Salut." The orphanage seems to provide such a vital service for the girls that live in the surrounding mountainside, they get a good education and do not have to spend 5 hours of their day walking to and from school as they can live there. It`s such a shame that the NGOs for the flood victims of The Sacred Valley are not being a little more supportive. They have withheld money from them for 2 years now as they expect the community to produce architectural plans for restructuring, yes I am sure they have the resources and experience to provide these. Luckily someone has managed to get a volunteer from Architects without Borders to lend a hand so hopefully some real rebuilding will be able to start soon!
It was then Trek time and great to finish my trip on a high, emotionally and geographically. From my experience, unless you are really unfit, I would suggest that you do the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu rather than the Inca Trail. It is more challenging as it is longer in days and distance, higher in altitude and not paved like the Inca Trail so the terrain can be a lot rougher, but it is really not that challenging. The route is also far less touristy, you meet few other groups, and yet the views are spectacular and the environment you walk through so diverse. On the first day you reach your highest point at Abra Huamatay (4600m) and there is rugged mountainside to conquer. By the third day you are walking through the high rainforest eating wild passion fruit or picking up bananas and avocados that have fallen in your path. There are early starts, a couple of 3.30 am wake up calls, but there were a few mornings that I couldn`t wait to get up as it was so cold, another minus 14 degrees, and you couldn`t sleep because of the dogs and roosters making so much noise. On the final day, when we were to arrive at Machu Picchu you also had to have an early start if you even wanted the vaguest chance of being able to climb Wayna Picchu. They only let 200 of those that enter Machu Picchu climb Wayna at 7am and 10am therefore there is quite a race to get to the ticket booth first. Everyone wants the 10am slot as the views are clearer so 3 of us from the group root marched it up to Machu Picchu at 4am. Its disgusting as I was literally drenched in sweat, it was so humid even at that time, but we made it up the approx. 1000 steps in 40 mins and were in the first 30 to join the queue. It was well worth the effort as the overview of Machu Picchu from Wayna is incredible. It was a very surreal experience actually being somewhere which you have seen 100´s of photos off but it was even better than I had imagined and a lot less touristy than I feared, you could still have your own space looking around.
So I have just arrived in Lima to get my flight home, a very strange feeling! The bus company took a lot of precautions for the night bus journey, videoing each person that entered the bus, where they sat, and taking your fingerprint. I felt like a criminal but I guess it works to make the journey safer. I probably would have felt better if the driver had just taken the corners a little slower!
So a final thank you for reading! See you soon,
Love Becks xxx