Wow, what a week.
Can it really only have been one week?! I am so jealous of all my fellow travellers heading off on various adventures to the jungle and beyond. And as the sadness starts to cling to my heart, I remind myself that at least I got that one magical week.
It is so hard to summarise your feelings in one post; thank goodness for journals and warm hands and dry tents to jot these moments down. I will be honest with you.
On Thursday, our small group of 7 met with Machu Picchu and the Inca group. I think there were maybe 16 of them. It was a really exciting moment spotting them on the steps of Machu Picchu. ‘Hi guys!! How’s it going?! Are you knackered?! Did you do it?! So good to see you!’ But there was something else lingering too.
We met with them for lunch at Pachamama in Aguas Calientes around 1.30pm, they may not have even known we were coming actually. I made a real effort to go over and speak to them. I was curious. I had after all wanted to do the Inca Trail but through various issues had to abandon my Inca booking and take the ‘not so bad’ alternative Lares Trek.
The energy off of them was unmissable. It reverberated around the entire room, bouncing off walls and ceiling and furniture. Ping. Ping. Ping. Their trip was incredible. They shared that same bond that we had on Everest. It will last forever and I realised in that instant, I was jealous. Thoroughly jealous of not getting that same zing I had the last time.
What was I expecting? Two life altering experiences? One is not always that lucky. So that day, and the next, there was a maddening rage building inside of me. How could our guide have let us down so badly? He moaned and groaned at us, ‘We are behind schedule guys’, ‘The summit is too far’, ‘Today is the easy day’. I was bitterly disappointed, and I know others were feeling the same too. Compare it with their experience, high fives every couple of 100 metres, positivity maintained throughout their 7 hour hike up 1200m, 3 guides to support the group, a team name (Sexy Llamas!) and general all round banter. I’m not saying my group weren’t great, because trust me they were, and you’ll be hearing all about that soon enough. But we knew, although we had tried to lift our own spirits, the leadership and guidance had been poor and for me, this was the biggest disappointment of the trip. Sad really, because in many ways he was a great guide. Latino to the core, a Peruvian charmer full of interesting stories and anecdotes, a real lover of plant and animal life and actually without him we would have had no clue where to go, but there were subtleties that could not be missed.
And the worst thing? I kind of know I need to go back. One week just isn’t enough.
Someone said to me, ‘South America is full of subtleties’. He wasn’t lying. It is only when returning that you realise what you miss. No looming giants, near and far. No breath taking scenery. No winding roads and dazzling heights. No rolling Spanish tongues. No colour, no vibrancy. The landing, cold, black, unfeeling.
I am thoroughly unsatiated. Oh dear, that’s never a good sign! Onwards and upwards!
I’ll continue my Spanish classes and pick some more Spanish speaking destinations to practice.
It’s weird because only half a day ago, I was actually thinking to myself- I am full. Filled up again with adventure and travel. My life felt like it had something worth holding onto. And even writing those words brings a glimmer of a smile to my lips and a twinkle to my eye. I AM SO FULL! How many random cool people did I meet? From Anthony, the 17 year old who shook his head in disbelief when I told him I didn’t have Facebook (lies), to Kat our translator who chuckled to herself at my reply (‘Good answer’), to Alexander my 22 year old taxi driver who was super enthusiastic the first day I arrived, to Humberto the world’s cutest 71 year old man who couldn’t for life nor money figure out the on flight technology. I will tell you all about him and his attempts to get me to marry one of his two sons. Do you know the difference between a llama and an alpaca? Have you tried guinea pig or prickly pear? Do you know the true colour of a mountain top lagoon? Have you seen greenery at 4,700m? Have your nails turned from pink, to blue, to grey? Have you ever been soaked to your bones where only instant hot chocolate from a plastic mug can cure you? Did you know that coca tea first thing in the morning is one of the best tastes in the world? Can you smell the morning dewdrops or hear the river tumbling beside you? No?
Well I did. And in the words of Ariel, ‘I want more…’