Posted by: Ali | April 24, 2010

Chachapoyas: Day 1

Holy crap.  I’m writing this on Monday about something that happened on Saturday, so bear with me.

We signed up for a three day trek through the Gran Vidal valley – it was a group of six of us.  Woke up at five to leave at six am, where we got in a car and were driven to the end of the road.  Literally.  We hiked down a ravine and up the other side and then back again, for about three and a half hours, to see some cool sarcophagi.  (More later)

We got back to the car, and were going to be driven to a hike through a valley.  Except that, while on a high mountain pass, the road became so unpassable that our car (which admittedly did not have 4WD) had to let us out and we were told we had to walk an extra two hours.  On a road that the car couldn’t pass through.  We walked for about half an hour before a pickup truck stopped and we paid the driver S/. 10 to get us to the valley.

We had no idea what we were in for.

The pickup truck was open in the back but mostly full of farm equipment, so while one lucky lady, the elderly Barbara, got to sit in the front, the rest of us were sitting uncomfortably on random tires and planks of wood.  Michael was initially hanging off the back of the truck because there was nowhere for him to sit.

Then we realized that the driver we hired was insane.  As we whipped around corners on a high mountain ledge; drove through rivers that cascaded down the mountain, across the road, and down the sheer cliff below; and sludged through mounds of mud so deep that the truck rocked so much I was sure it would fall over, I contemplated frequently my mortality.  There were several times that I’m pretty sure the truck didn’t tip only because Michael was leaning in the opposite direction.  Oh yeah, and then it started to rain on us.

We surprisingly made it down to the part where the hike was supposed to start, all of us alive.  We had a quick lunch and then were informed that it would be another seven hours of hiking before we got to the place where we would have dinner and spend the night.  At this point it was about 2 pm.

We hiked for a few hours through the beautiful Belen Valley (more later) and then came along a fork in the path.  At this point we were all getting pretty tired, since the first three and a half hours up and down the ravine were pretty gruelling.  Our guide, Augusto, told us that we could go on an old Inca road, which would be up and down through the mountains, or along the paved road, where we might be able to catch a lift if we got too tired.  Barbara did.

The rest of us were still walking when the sun set at 6:30.  Unfortunately, not knowing that we were supposed to bring flashlights, I didn’t have one.  I borrowed one from Augusto, which was a really good thing, because at around 7, he told us that we were going to take a shortcut.  Down a windy narrow muddy passageway, in the dark.  At least it was downhill, but at that point, the uphill leg muscles and the downhill leg muscles hurt equally.

We didn’t arrive until about 8:30, and had dinner and went to bed in record time.  The good news was that the moon was out and bright.  The bad news is that the moon really doesn’t give off enough light to prevent toe stubbing on lots and lots of rocks.


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