Friday, February 19, 2010

The Final Day of the Lares Trek

The final day of the Lares Trek was upon us.

And as the world is an angry angry beast, sleep before this final night was not all that stellar. You may think that, once again, it was too cold. But in this thought you would be incorrect. You see it was not too cold, but rather too hot. Yes, while we were at a higher altitude, it was a much warmer night, and thus the thermals did nothing but create an uncomfortable balance between being too hot, or removing some of the sleeping bag, only to then be too cold. But once again all of this was forgotten when tea was brought to my tent.

And the white noise created by the running stream nearby did wonders to help create a calm, and relaxed attitude for this final day.

After a breakfast of delightful pancakes (I'm told this was “pancake day” some sort of Jesus thing, I believe? I'm not to up on my theology/mythology/what have you.) I was told that lemon and sugar made for the best toppings. Clearly these people have never had real maple syrup. They said that they had, but when I asked how much the bottle cost and discovered it was only a few dollars, I knew they'd never tasted the real Canadian treat – as the hours required collecting sap, and then reducing it by 80% over a constant flame, can only be purchased for twenty dollars a bottle. Any less, and you're taking chances with the flavour. On the other hand, it doubles as a tasty treat when poured over clean snow.

So pancakes we had, and hot chocolate too. Then our camp was broken down for the final time, and we were off. I may have downed a few more pain killers.

As we walked longer than needed be the day before, our walk today was a short three hour hop down the road. Leaving the hills behind, and entering the cities, the children's faces became much cleaner, and their clothes far more modern. I still wonder if those in the hills were merely in costume. It seems strange that a few kilometers could create such different cultural norms.

Down the road we hopped, talking merrily all the way, tra la la – and then we were stopped. A mud slide had closed off some of the road. Workers were chipping away at the rock with picks to cover the slide. Watching for a moment or so, we then decided to waltz right through, hoping for the best, trying to become as little covered in the sticky barrier as possible.

Towns, rocks, mountains – and then we had reached our destination. An anti-climactic end to the three day journey. Looking back it could have been compiled into one day for many, I do believer. The first three hours were relatively tame, as were the last three. It would have made for a 16 hour hike. While that might have been pushing it somewhat two days at the most this trail should take. Still – I was grateful for the three.

Our ending place was a restaurant where lunch would be served. But before that some people went off to see the temple of the sun. I'm sure this Inca ruin was lovely, and marvelous, but when I heard that it required climbing a terrible number of steps, I was sure that I needn't visit it.

Returning to my reading of the Lord of the Rings, I once more felt that I could relate to Frodo's never-ending march across middle earth. (I hate Frodo, mind you – and feel he is the most terrible of all characters in said text, not unlike Harry Potter, in his own series – but never mind that. Sam. I could relate to Sam.)

When people returned with tales of big rocks, overshadowed by bigger steps, I felt that – despite how amazing it would have been – I made the right call. And then we ate. And it was good.

With lunch over, we headed out to our hotels, and the trek had come to an end.

I'm sure I meant to stay awake for a while to go out for dinner. But this was not to be. Checking into the hotel around 3:00pm, the next time I recall seeing was 7pm. When I did awake though I explored, explored as far as the balcony outside my room. But from this balcony, what sights could be seen. The temple of the Sun was carved and built upon a mountain of which I had a perfect view, amazed by the scope, and scale of the creation. What work would have been involved to create such a thing?

And then opposite there was another ancient building carved into an opposing mountain. As I turned my head once more, I was boxed in by yet another part of the Andes towering overhead. And all before me, the stylized roofs of rural Peru.

While I did not climb the ruins myself, I feel that I enjoyed and appreciated them all the same. As I stood looking out into the night, I was again overcome by a growing tired. But before I crashed yet again, I made way to the shower. There I stood for an hour, until the warm water ran cold, and I could stand it no more. Closer to clean, I was now, after so long without any showers. And my body rejoiced.

At some point between exiting the shower, and trying to decide what to do next, I aparently passed out on my bed.

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