Just a few short days after my Ironman I headed to Peru. You are probably thinking- good for her for having a relaxing vacation to celebrate. Nope! Quite the opposite actually. I planned a vacation around backpacking in the Andes. Now I will say, the day after my Ironman I felt I had made a bad bad choice. I couldn’t move so how in the fuck was I supposed to trek a fucking mountain? Luckily the day I left I was able to use my legs again so all hope wasn’t lost.
I booked my flights so that I could have some time to see Lima since the main part of my trip would be spent elsewhere. The morning after my arrival, I actually made the decision so just sit and relax in my hotel since I would be backpacking and needed to let my body rest since I was still recovering. It was so nice to just sit!
I will spare you the boring shit so I made it Cusco, slept and poof more exciting shit.
The next day we went through the Sacred Valley with our guide.
First stop was Pukamuqu where we visited the Cristo Blanco statue (https://www.theonlyperuguide.com/peru-guide/cusco/highlights/cristo-blanco-2/).
We then headed to a women’s weaving co-op where we learned how the women of this community create their yarn for textiles. These wonderful ladies showed us how they clean the wool with a plant root, stretch the wool to make the yarn, and then use plants to dye the yarn. Crazy how vibrant the colors are and how this has been passed down over many generations. Their products are great as well.
Along the way we stopped by a small village called Cuyo Chico where they make pottery.
We learned how they create clay for their pottery and how they use mud and grass to make bricks for their buildings.
For lunch we headed to Huchuy Qosqo another village where we ate the Parwa Community Restaurant which is a sustainable restaurant that also promotes the local economy. The food was amazing, the view was stunning and I tried my first Pisco Sour.
After lunch we headed to Ollantaytambo which is the last active Inca town where we would spend our last night before we started backpacking. We hiked up to the Pinkuylluna Incan storehouses which gave us a great view of the town and the Sacred Valley.
There is a lot of history around this town and its placement (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ollantaytambo) that I will let you read about it on your own time.
On to the hike!
I hiked the Lares trail instead of the Inca trail for a couple of reason. The first is that I didn’t have a permit (they only allow so many people on the Inca trail). The second reason which is also the default to aspect 1 is that the Lares trail is a trail the the villagers use vs the general public so it was the path less traveled which also excited me.
This was the group I set out with- from left to right (and I don’t know any last names).
Oliver, Matthew, Ester, Jack, Me, Fraiser, Laura, Ivan and Johana.
This picture was taken of us as we set out on our first day of our hike. It was a little on the chilly side since we started at a higher elevation and it was a dreary. Our first day’s hike would be 6 miles in length with a total elevation of 12,703 feet. When we got to our campsite, it was really cold but luckily our tents were already set up. We had time before dinner so we set up our sleeping quarters and decided to pay a card game called Shit Head.
This was one of the most miserable nights. I was so cold and didn’t sleep at all and we had to be up at 5:30am to get on our hike the next day. I will say though being woke up with coca tea. This is tea steeped with coca leaves (we also sucked on these to help with elevation sickness) and was glorious. I actually got woke up every morning on our hike with this.
Day two of our hike was a very long day with a 11 mile hike. We hiked through a lot of different terrain and got to see a lot of pretty scenery.
We hiked up to an elevation of 15,413 feet in the air. The air was thin, there was snow and the views were pretty awesome.
The hike down was great though it was really rough on my knees. When we made it to camp, we made sure that we got booze this time around. The first night we didn’t have anything to drink so that was a priority. And we were super successful!
We ended up with 2 bottles of run and 3 very small bottles of coke and a beer thanks to these little boy since they were the ones who sold it to us. We used the river to cool the beverages and drank all evening. You would think that with the hike we had and the drinks we drank I would have slept well but no dice. I slept better than the night before but still like complete shit.
Our last day on our hike we had a short 3 hour hike back to civilization.
When we got back to Ollantaytambo, our guide took us to a very local spot….
I know these pictures aren’t great but what do you do. The lady in blue, this was her house and her “bar” since her batch of chicha (fermented corn). It smelled like harvest and tasted like a sour beer. It wrecked my stomach so in hindsight I shouldn’t have experienced this. More on this in a bit.
The next day and my last day as a tourist in Peru we went to Machu Picchu. Ester (who hiked with me) wanted to actually hike up the mountain to Machu Picchu and I am always down for an experience. We got up at 4am so that we could hike and make it the same time as our group so we didn’t get seperated.
It rained on us the entire hike and we ended up getting lost but in the end, we made it. We climbed 4 miles of stairs. I was sore from my Ironman and this hike put me right back there.
We finally met up with our group and finally got to see this ancient city. BTW if you want to see it by foot, you better do it in the next 10 years because the city if falling and they aren’t going to allow people to walk on it soon.
Our guide gave us a 2 hour tour explaining the history and significance of the various areas of the ancient city. The views were actually the most breath taking of everything I had seen on the trip. It was like being in Jurassic Park.
During our guided tour, I started getting bad stomach cramps. My head started to hurt. My body started to feel super weak and I was ill. It was all I could to do not throw up or shit myself. After our tour, we had 2ish hours to explore. I took 15-20 minutes to get the fuck out of there because diarrhea something bad and the last thing I needed to happen was to poop myself and still have a whole day of travel since I didn’t have access to my clothes.
After leaving the site, I spent the next hour curled up next to the wall unable to move. I finally made it back down the mountain to the restaurant that we were all meeting before we headed on. I slept on a sofa waiting for my soup to come. Once I had a couple of bites of food (literally couldn’t manage much more than that) I sat in the chair in the corner and slept while a room of 30 people sang and danced. For anyone who really knows me, this is super unusual behavior for me. I’m never in the corner when shit is happening and I don’t nap let alone in a loud place. I felt fucking awful!
We finally left for the train which I had to ride for an hour and a half before we got to our bus that would take us another 2 hours to our final destination to our hotel. When I got to the hotel I felt still awful so I called JD to see if he could change my flight so I could actually sleep in and get some rest versus getting up early to catch a flight. He had to book a whole new flight for me. I ended up going to bed around 8:30 and got about 12 hours of sleep. My roommate also wasn’t feeling well so she slept the same amount of time. We were two sad looking people our last night.
I will not bore you with my flight home but I made it back without crapping myself on the plane and I managed to sleep on the plane. It was a great vacation and a much needed one.
I will end this post with this. I put my body through a lot over the past 2 weeks, my feet especially. Doing this there is always consequence. Other than being super sore and exhausted and ill, my feet hated me. I will lose some toenails!