|Aguas Calientes, Peru, 01MAY03, 3:25pm
Today was day 1 of the Inca Trail. After having arrived at our hotel last night, the receptionist at the desk had told us to be in the lobby at 8am to meet our tour guide who would take us to the group.
We woke up at 6am, re-packed to remove a few things from our heavy packs, had a quick breakfast, filtered more water and arrived in the lobby a little late (8:15am). No guide. Ok...they´re running a little late...the guy who told us about our tour had said 8:15-8:30, so we waited. Tick, tock... 8:30 came and went...we had the receptionist behind the desk call our contact from the tour company (it took a few minutes to get her to understand our problem and communicate what we needed). She called and said not to worry, they were coming.
We waited. And waited. Finally about 9-ish Pedro showed up and appologized for being late. We were to be six on the trail as a group and one had fallen ill and could not go. This would seem like no big deal, but apparently, the permit for the Inca Trail had to be re-done for five. We hopped into a taxi (an interesting experience in Cusco with such narrow streets) and rushed to where the bus was waiting. After picking up a few last things, we were off...
At Ollantaytambo we picked up a few more people who would be on another tour and then took a SMALL winding dirt road along the Urubamba river for another hour to the trail. We finally arrived at the trail head about noon-ish (we were supposed to have been here about 11am). Our group consisted of Catherine from the UK, Isaac from Chile, Alexandre from Brazil and us. All were between 22 and 35. Quite the international group of travelers...and a small group which helped!
The first day we were told would be relatively flat. A few ups and downs but not gaining much altitude. While this was mostly true, it was a hard day. The trail was a warm up for what was to come. My pack was heavy, and while Jim and I gave our sleeping bags to the porters to carry, it didn´t seem to help much! By the time we reached our campsite I was completely exhausted! Jim was doing much better...he seemed to have an easier go of it than I did.
Our tents were up and waiting for us and hot drinks were at 5pm. Dinner followed about 6pm and we were off to an early nights rest. Day 2 of the Inca Trail was supposed to be the hardest and we needed all the rest we could get!