The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow

Five Days to Machu Picchu: Day Four — “Hangover Hill”
November 16, 2008, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Peru
Don't let the Thumbs Up fool you -- I felt about as bad as I looked in this picture.

Don't let the Thumbs Up fool you -- I felt about as good as I looked in this picture.


Waking up in La Playa aka “Shithole Bugville” was literally a rude awakening. Not because the magical toilet we found the night before was in a worse state than the Shithole, nor because of the idea of being consumed anew by the Death Bugs, but because the rooster decided to wake up at 3AM and start relentlessly screaming. And he didn’t stop until 6AM. To add to this noise, the Horsemen had done their final day of work and we tipped them before they headed back to their homes. I’m fairly sure they spent all their tip money on beer that night, and also hooked the rooster up with a couple of drinks, and together they all had a yelling party.

Thus, we woke up after a poor night of sleep with horrifically itchy bug bites all over our legs, arms, necks, feet, and souls. Even our hangovers had bug bites. And there were ample hangovers.

As Paul had warned us before, Day Four was going to the hardest of the hiking. But he also said our campsite at La Playa was nice, and it turned out to be the Fourteenth Level of Hell, so we were hesitant to trust him.

This time, however, he wasn’t lying.

Up...and up...and up...

Up...and up...and up...

At about 6:30 we were all packed up and trekking again. This was our day to hike a real Inca trail. It was an amazing collection of stone stairs that wrapped their way up, up, up the mountain. And, if it weren’t for the 79 beers we each consumed the night before, we probably really would have enjoyed it. But climbing uneven stone stairs up a mountain for hours with Cusquena beer-flavored sweat pouring from your ears generally isn’t my idea of an enjoyable time.

Alas, this was no time to complain (that time would come soon). So up we climbed.

Staking out my place at the end of the line, I silently walked up the mountain, searching for a suitable cliff to hurl myself off. After about four hours of looking at the ground, listening to the banter of the rest of the climbers through my panting gasps, I had sweated out most of the beer. I finally started to feel more optimistic, and thought “Hey, at least we’re not going downhill. Right, knees?”

It was right about this moment that we reached the peak, and started heading downhill.


Incan temple at the top of the mountain

Incan temple at the top of the mountain

Again, I staked out my place at the end of the line, and silently walked down the hill. Between the creaking of my knees I noticed that I was not the only person who was just about completely cashed out from four days of hiking. Everyone’s delirium was expressed through different mediums: be it complaining, random freestyle jumping down the trail, singing of horrendous show tunes, or trying to find the steepest cliff to efficiently fling oneself off, the group as a whole was burned out.

Hiking is difficult. Especially for four long, high-altitude days. Don’t get me wrong, the trek was incredible; probably the highlight of my four months of South American travel. But, it was time to triumphantly return to civilization and its marvelous inventions: running water, electricity, and non-Shithole toilets that take your feces to magical, far-off, unseen lands at the flick of a handle.

We reached the top, now all we have to do is walk down to the river.

We reached the top, now all we had to do was walk down to the river.

And, after four long hours of uphill hiking followed by four long hours of downhill hiking (shouldn’t we have just gone around the mountain?), we arrived at our final lunch site and were awarded with a three hour wait while for our train to depart.

Eventually, we arrived in Aguas Calientes, got to clean the four days of hiking funk from our bodies, drink cold beer, warm boxed wine, and sleep indoors.

The long hike was over, and the next day, we would finally go to Machu Picchu to try to discover what the fuck the Incans were thinking building a tourist site at such a difficult-to-reach location.


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