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james and chris’s Travel Diary

Monday, 01 May 2006

Location: Cusco, Peru

MapHola,

The spanish is coming on a treat, we get menus in English still as its obvious James is English still but we order everything in Spanish, its very impressive.

Anyway, the city of Cusco, about 3000m high and therefore tourists are prone to altitude sickness, you just feel hungover all the time - oh no thats prob just because we are!! The altitude affected us for the first 3 days and we were advised to drink thier local tea, which is basically made with cocaine - well they advised it so we had to try, would be rude not to.

We had arrived in Cusco for the cities bussiest week of the year, Easter half term, their Saints day - and this country is very religious, the city was packed with tourists and locals alike which made for a good atmosphere, topped off by the carnival and parades in the main square daily.

With 5 days in the town before embarking on the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu we decided to do a couple of activities horse riding and mountain biking. They were both a little dissapointing, the horse riding ended a few miles away from where we started and we were told to walk back to town. The mountian biking which we did with some kiwi friends we met in Rio made for an interesting day. We had asked to do something easy, just down hill as we were all doing the 4 day inca trail the next day - they assured us it was. After 10hours (should have been 6) we arrive back to cusco in a taxi, between 6 of us we d had 12 flat tyres and a basic punchure rapair kit that ran out of patches, the guide lost the bloody pump and ended up running and pushing his bike for a few miles to the next town - idiot!! Here we dumped the bikes altoghther and he ushered 9 of us into one taxi, myself, james, kierianna (kiwi) and the guide were all in the boot!! We completed the bike ride tour in the car and then had to walk to the local bus station where we kicked off a bit and demanded a taxi take 5 of us back to Cusco as we were would be late for our pre inca meeting otherwise. Needless to say we werent too chuffed by the whole experience especially as the riding we had done was all up hill.

Inca trail day began at 5am, a short bus journey to the 88km point from Machu Picchu which is where wed begin the walk. About 10 minutes into it i was bored and asked J , why didnt we take the train again!! It improved all the time though with stunning views throughout. Mountains, rivers, jungels, boiling sun then snow capped mountains in the background.

Day 2 was definetely the hardest and wed walked 6 hours on day one. We had to climb about 1000m to 4250m (ish) and it was definetly a battle, then down 500m before back up and down again. We all even agreed at the end the inca trail was prob the toughest physical challenge of our life!! Which got us on to thinking about the toughest mental challenge, the top 2 being the bungy jumps and using a squat pan - which i unfortunetly did for the first time in my life on the Inca Trail, i couldnt stop laughing, a strange experience!!

Anyway youve all heard enough of our toilet habbits for life so lets move on.

Just a word on the porters, these guys are amazing, they not only carry 20kg for everyone but also all the tents, food marquet, and anything else you want or need. They run ahead of us each day, with our bags on thier backs, were all struggling to carry our own water bottle!! They then set up the tents and food ready for our arrival. We get there 3 hours later and have a snack, usually pop corn, wan tan, and pan cakes - you know the usual stuff you whip up in the middle of nowhere in a tent!! The best food wed eaten for ages and we were camping!! They even woke you up in the morning with a cuppa!!

So we arrive at the last camp place before Machu Pichu on day 3. This is a tourist town on reached by foot or railway, and it houses some excellent hot springs, which we stayed in until we looked like prunes. We were due to wake up at 4am for sunrise in Machu Pichu so we got an early night right, wrong. We had an Irish couple in our group so were inspired to visit the pub for one!! At 2am we had our last shot of tequila and returned to the pizza place where we slept on the floor for 2 hours sleep - random accomodation i know.

Machu Pichu was covered in cloud for the entire sunrise and 3 hours after, eventually saw it at 10am and is was well worth the 3 day trek. Its just a town in the mountains, god knows how they built it and why but it was impressive. There is a mountain there you can climb to get a birds eye view and not content with the hardest walk ever i climbed it with a few from our group, James chose to explore the toilets!!

A 4 hour train journey back to Cusco that evening, we had a flight at 7am the next day so decided to have an early night.... 5am, brilliant night with our group who were very mixed but we got on so well. Ages from 22 (me) - 55 Brian, Americans, Canadians, English Irish Welsh and 2 Danish lads who must of been in the Danish army as they bloody ran half the way.

We made the flight and got to Lima, tierd and not over impressed with the city we watched Arsenal Villa Real and changed our flight to Argy earlier, via an Interview for Peru Tv, a programme about dating - again random i know!!

Im writing this on Thursday 4th May, i leave tomorrow 181 days after we set off and were coming home. Mixed feelings, cant wait to see everyone but reality and debt is going to suck after an amazing 6 months.

One more up date to do about Argentina which will be done at home.

If youve enjoyed reading the updates and looking at the pictures please send us 20 quid each as were poor!!

Thanks God Bless and all the best

Chris and James