Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Gabriel Garcia Márquez used to say, “Your Life is how you remember it.”
I was a city boy for over 28 years in Lima, Peru. Life wasn’t handing me good cards. I left Lima in a big old bus headed to Cusco the capital of the Inca Empire. It took almost 2 days due the bad conditions of the roads. In those days we were ruled by a demagogue, Alan Garcia that created the highest inflation ever in my country in only 2 years. In later years Garcia would have another opportunity to rule as again and did a better job, but not enough for the country to forgive him. I arrived in Cusco on Peru’s Independence Day, July 28, 1987. I had been invited by a good friend and went with intentions to reinvent myself. I would become a Peru travel guide although I didn’t know it when I arrived.
I will always treasure my first experiences, the opportunity to learn new things. I had no idea I was missing something really fun, exciting and rewarding I completed some intense training to become a river guide, but my experience as a hiker was inexistent.
In early December, I did my first Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu. The Trail wasn’t as famous as it is nowadays. Peru was suffering from the presence of the Shining Path, a Maoist guerilla organization that only wanted to create chaos, anarchy and eventually take power. Therefore, there was a scarcity of visitor and the only nationality that came in regular bases where Israelis.
I was hired to cook on my first Inca Trail trek when I insisted that I was the right person for the job. I described my nonexistent previous experience having no idea of what I was getting myself into. I had heard a lot about this trek and really wanted to do it sooner than later. I prepared a menu list, went shopping and packed which took most of the day and next day we were off on the trails. The guide, David, was an easygoing fellow with some previous experience and I eager to please and do the rights things. The clients were a young California couple,
We started the hike and we were the only ones in the whole trail. I’m carrying more weight than ever with a borrowed backpack and hope that I have the stamina to finish this adventure, after the first 2 hours doubts start filling my head and I just need to reframe my thoughts and reassure myself that I was capable. Hour after hour we continue the journey. I start using the coca leaf that somebody gave me in case I felt the need of extra energy. I put ball after ball on my last molar and feel the numbness. The juice that comes out was an alkaloid that kept me going like the Incas of ancient time, on the same path for the same purpose.
We ate sandwiches for our first lunch. Then a good soup and pasta for dinner did the job before I fell to sleep completely exhausted.
Early the next morning the rain started and didn’t stop for the whole day. I forgot to put the eggs away and I had a big surprise when I saw a snake leaving us the last empty eggshells. I did have to apologize because there wouldn’t be any omelet that day.
It started to rain harder and I had to deal with this horrible weather in jeans and tennis shoes. An electric storm was passed close by and I was scared shitless when lighting and thunder hit close to us. Step by step was my goal in the rain and I had to overcome a great deal of despair. Late in the afternoon the storm passed and I had some hungry clients to feed. They were happy to savor some delicious hot vegetables soup with some Carbs before we continued to our second camp site.
That night, the rain continued on an off and our tent was about to collapse. It leaked from every angle and we had a little pool inside in the tent I shared with David. Barely any dry spots could be found. I was so tired I fell right to sleep in spite all the difficulties.
As the night passed I had a nightmare that gave me a life lesson that I will never forget. I dreamt that I was in the worst Peruvian prison dealing with injustice and it was so vivid than when I awoke I had a moment of joy. Knowing I was free made me feel that life is good, and I started singing and playing around, caring less about the weather, and the prospect of a hard day ahead of us. “It can always be worst” was my big lesson on this trip.
The weather improved later on and I manage to feed my clients without complaints. We finished the hike at the estimated time. This is what I remember most from my first Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It was the beginning of a series of adventures.
After my first Machu Picchu trek I was afforded many other opportunities to explore and lead on the trails. 30 years have passed, and I still gravitate toward the well preserved ancient Inca Trail with stunning landscapes. Today I lead my own groups with my company Kusirumi.
On the first hike I learned basic and fundamental lessons:
Overall, determination is everything. Even an overweight person with poor training can overcome fear if he or she has determination.
Blue jeans are the least of your choice and even worst in the rainy season.
It is better to have good waterproof boots to protect your ankle, and stay dry.
Sleeping bags are better than blankets
4 season tents are a must,
Good practice leads you to a great performance, so how well you prepare yourself and using good equipment is essential.
The trail is spectacular, and each trip is special because hikers that come and join us make every journey a different experience. It is never too late to start something new and challenges in life keep your soul uplifted. Book your tour with anticipation of the time of your life.
0nly 500 people include crew members are allowed on the trails per day.
I highly recommend the 5/4 program that allow you to skip the crowds and pace yourself.
KUSIRUMI TREK PERU