On Foggy Times and Turning 27 in Cloud City

Maybe "hiking through the fog and rain" is necessary off, as well as on, the Inca Trail in order to have a chance at the experiencing something great.  Maybe having a foggy view of what lies ahead intensifies our reaction to what's there when the clouds lift.  I certainly felt that intensity at Machu Picchu, when things finally cleared up.  

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Inca Trail - Lessons Learned

"The first part of today is nice and easy," our guide told us on Day 3.  "The trail will be mostly flat."

LIES! 

A flat section of the Inca Trail is like a filling Lean Cuisine.  It doesn't exist. 

As I walked on Day 3, discovering the true meaning of Peruvian "flat", I thought about other lessons learned along the trail.  From me to you, in no particular order:

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Inca Trail - Unforgettable Moments

A solitary, Thoreau-esque trek is not the experience you'll have on the Inca Trail.  Several years ago, the Peruvian government prohibited trekking without a qualified guide, so it's no longer an option to hike the Inca Trail independently.  Small groups can organize their own trek, provided they pay a pretty penny to have a licensed guide accompany them.  The requirement to hike with a sanctioned guide PLUS the cap on the # of trekkers allowed on the trail per day creates the perfect environment for tour operators.  They swoop in, batch you up into small groups, orchestrate the permit purchase, and serve as your licensed guide. 

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Pisac and Piscos and Pig...Guinea Pig

The day after adventuring in Maras, I returned to the Sacred Valley.  

I was determined to tackle two things on my own:  asking for directions and the colectivo.  Prior to coming to Peru, I had never heard of a colectivo.  The concept doesn't really exist in the US, but I can make a loose comparison to car pooling.  You may laugh at my admiration, but if punctuality is not a concern (ha, this is the reason why it doesn't exist in the US), the colectivo is a pretty neat way to get around.  For me, it worked a little like this:

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Zip Lining and Four Wheeling in the Sacred Valley

On my first full day in Cusco, Caleb and I set out for Maras in the Sacred Valley.  Caleb is an American who had been working at Bill & Nic's house for a few months prior to my arrival.  His goal was to learn some Spanish along the way.  When Nicole learned that I was a solo traveler, she sent Caleb along with me.  She said it was so that he could learn more about the B&B's offerings, but I suspect it was so that I didn't get my sorry ass kidnapped (ha!)

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The Logistics of It All [Peru, Argentina, Uruguay]

I wrote my bucket list when I was seventeen.  It has grown since then, but the whole point of this project is to hold myself to that original list, even if some of my teenaged aspirations don't seem quite as appealing as they used to.  For example:  Although I was a diver in high school, I've developed a slight fear of heights as I've gotten older.  As you might guess, "go sky diving" is still sitting ominously undone on my bucket list. 

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