Days two and three of hiking the Sacred Valley are, quite frankly, a blur. I was trying to enjoy the experience and take it all in, but that proved to be difficult when you feel like you are neither seeing, nor experiencing, nor photographing when you are worried about safely navigating the climb/descent immediately before you. Many times, I felt like I was snapping photos from an automobile speeding down the Autobahn. I returned from the trip with very few usable photos, but hey, I got a torn hamstring as a souvenir. So, given the speed of our travels, I will consolidate these two days into one post. You are just going to have to trust me on this one. Day 2, we traveled about an hour drive from Cusco and hiked the back side of Tipón, where we saw examples of the Inca water channels and impressive stonework.
After that, we met the van and traveled toward Pisaq. Along the way, we stopped at a beautiful church – Seńor de Huanca. So named after the person who owned the land. The spot is famous because a meteor landed there. The meteor remains to this day inside a special room inside the church. It is a magical place and well worth a visit.
And then we were on our way to Pisaq. The Pisaq ruins were difficult for me. As full disclosure about this part of our adventure, there was more than one time I wanted to channel my inner two-year-old child so someone would remove me from the trail. I managed to be an adult and push through…barely. There was one point where we were on a very steep, narrow trail, and, I admit, parts of the trail was navigated on all fours. But I DID navigate it. After what I THOUGHT was a difficult passage, Jay and I reached a somewhat level area where we hugged the mountain stopped to catch our breath (we were high five-ing and celebrating our safety) when we turned the corner and discovered that we had another steep hill to climb. Okay, so this is where I lost it and started chanting, “I can NOT do that!” repeatedly. Maybe even at a decibel level higher than I realized at the time. Did I say, repeatedly? Jay finally broke the verbal panic-induced trance with the reality of our situation by stating the obvious, “We have to do this because there is no other way out.” For the record, I hate when he unleashes logic on me. And so, this is where the real “fun” began. Needless to say, I do not have pictures memorializing that part of the hike.
Day 3, we started the day visiting the ruins in Ollantaytambo. Sometime the day before, my Fitbit went dead, and I had no way to recharge it. With all these stinkin’ steps I was taking, I was not even getting fitness “credit”.
In the afternoon, I finally got some quality time in Ollantaytambo to walk around and take pictures. Ahh! This is more like it.
Before I hit any of these trails, one of the books I read was Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams, in which he references “martini explorers”. When I read that, I scoffed, thinking, right-on brother. Then, it occurred to me that I might be classified as a "martini explorer". Horror! I had justified not hiking the entire Inca Trail, theorizing, to assuage my guilt, that this was my reconnaissance of the trek. By the end of day two, when I enviously; neigh, covetously, sat in a restaurant all stinky, sweaty, hurting, exhausted, sporting hat-hair… watching a group of ladies load up on a Mercedes bus looking all fresh and put together with shopping bags in tow; I know I was looking at them like a puppy eyeing a piece of bacon. It was then I announced aloud, "I want a Mercedes bus. I NEED a Mercedes bus." From here on out (and I feel a bit Scarlett O’Hara-ish about this), I shall be a “martini explorer”. And, furthermore, I shall make no excuses, nor be shamed by my new status as a “martini explorer”, for I have earned it.
LIFE LESSON: Before you unleash your hard earned money on a tour, make sure there is a Mercedes bus somewhere in the package. If there is no bus...RUN!! Run hard. Run fast. This is no time to power walk.
Next week, the reward is the end of the trail: Machu Picchu, so until then…