Thursday, 5 February 2015

Machu Picchu: Day Two

Being away in Europe for a couple of weeks, I have had little time to update my Machu Picchu blog. However, I decided that today is the day to document Day 2 of my climb.

The second day was actually our least active one. We arrived the night before in a little jungle lodge run by a family and were pleased to be able to sit down, relax, and be served our meal of rice and chicken. Little merriment was had that night as we were all keen to crawl into our beds and refresh ourselves for our impending hike the next day. I attempted to shower, but could only wash one limb at a time in the freezing cold water, so I was kind of clean... :/ I think. I made a point not to look up at the corrugated iron roof as the little concrete space was full of cobwebs and dead insects, and I feared I had a few eight-legged friends waiting to say hello.

The next morning we saw true Peruvian 'punctuality' in action; after being told we were setting off on our hike at 9am, it was nearing 10 before they let us know that actually we were not going to be leaving until at least 11. In the meantime we were given a lesson on various fruits and vegetables that grow in the Peruvian mountains and jungle, including thousands of varieties of potato. My potato knowledge has never been that great, but it was kind of interesting to learn that the vegetable, which originates from the country, was brought to Europe and made popular by the Spaniards, and sadly, due to its subsequent popularity and cultivation, the thousands of varieties that used to exist have now been practically halved, with the less popular ones having disappeared over time.

As well as potato facts, we were also able to eat a raw cocoa bean (bitter, but I was a bit of a fan), and wear makeup made from the juice of various fruits - a practice still in existence by many tribal peoples of today.

Eventually we left, and the day consisted of walking through the breathtaking countryside for around 8 hours before arriving at the natural thermal springs built into the mountains. I had known we were going to be swimming in natural hot baths but I was unprepared for how beautiful the surroundings would truly be. The baths were around 32-35 degrees celsius, and were situated in a natural valley, walled by mountains, rocks, and vegetation. After a day hiking, I was in absolute heaven!

But the day didn't end there. After a couple of hours swimming and relaxing, it was pretty dark, so a bus took us to the mountain town where we would spend the night in a hostel. After dinner we decided that tonight would not be another early night, and so tried the local 'Inca tequila' shots; an alcoholic beverage that has been brewed with a dead snake for a bit of extra flavour. They were...strong. After hitting the bar, we also tried out the local club scene, or rather, the one rather empty club. Having popped a few moves, Tobias and I were then ready to head back to the hostel. An early morning and zip-lining fun awaited us.

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