So the big day finally arrived, and we set off for our 3 day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu.  Now, I had done a LOT of reading online, and I thought I was ready.  Most of the bloggers out there stated that if you were in reasonably good health and shape, this hike would be no problem at all.  Those people, are liars.  You can read all about my preparations here and here.

So here is our crew on day 1, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to rock!  If only we knew what was coming (and that, my friends, is called foreshadowing!)

And the first day was stunning.  Amazing weather, beautiful scenery, and not too challenging overall.  We also had the chance to see quite a few archaeological sites, some tiny, and some large.

If my memory serves me correctly, this site is called Wayllabamba, which was discovered by Hiram Bingham on his way back from “discovering” Machu Picchu.

After a short 5 hours of hiking we reached our first campsite, nestled on a set of small terraces with a stunning view of the valley.  I was pretty much ready to die, knowing full well this was supposed to have been the “easy” day.   What made my life a lot tougher was the washroom situation.  I was not expecting the Four Seasons, but I was also not expecting a squat toilet, and myself and the 1 other woman with me to have to share it with 22 men.  Just imagine!  It was completely disgusting.  And the bottoms of your pants get sooooo filthy, and you can’t shower.  So yeah.  Recipe for yukkyness.  And on my way to use the washroom before bed, I saw a tarantuala.  So that was freaky.

But waking up to a view like this?  Priceless.

Our very first day in Peru began bright and early with a flight from Lima to Cusco to our final destination: Puerto Maldonado – the gateway to the Amazon.  Upon landing you immediately notice the humidity, and just how green everything is.  Once at the river port we boarded a boat for a 3 hour chug up the Tambopata River, an important tributary of the Amazon.   We stayed at Posada Amazonas, an ecofriendly lodge owned by the native community of Infierno peoples.    I thought it was going to be super romantic because they had no electricity (candles only!), no walls, and lots of gauzy mosquito nets.  That, to me, sounds like a recipe for romance.  And it might have been, except after dinner we returned to the room and even in the darkness we saw them: cockroaches.  Hundreds of them.  All over our clothing, sink, walls, backpack, and toothpaste.  Every time we moved something they would come scurrying out.  It was horrifying.  We jumped into bed under our mosquito net and huddled in fear as we listened to all the strange sounds the jungle seemed to produce.

In any case, the lodge provided us with an amazing guide, Ivan, who showed us many things the jungle has to offer:

Tarantulas:

Leaf Cutter Ants:

Piranhas:

And many, many birds, including these Macaws:

On the trek we also had the priveledge to see the endangered Giant River Otter, – a family of 7 of them, in fact.  It was so exciting to be one of the few tours to spot these incredible otters.  Due to overhunting, very few of these exist in the wild.

Visiting the jungle really made me appreciate the need for conservation so that all of these amazing creatures have a safe place to live.  They really, really, don’t belong in cages or pet stores.  The variety of plants, flowers, bugs and birds is truly astounding, some of which have not even been classified by science yet.  This short jungle excursion just whet my appetite…and I hope to be able to take longer jungle trip sometime in the future.

Only 24 more hours until we head to the airport to depart for Lima!  I’m spending our final day in Canada laying out all the clothing and supplies for our departure tomorrow.  In the end we decided not to purchase our own sleeping bags or liners, and instead just rent them once we begin the trek.  Not only is this cost effective – its also lots less to carry.  Yes, sleeping in a rented sleeping bag sounds gross, but as fellow travelers tell me, the Inca Trail hike is so cold and you wear so many layers, that none of your skin even touches the sleeping bags.  I’m just going to tell myself that anyway.  And really, as long as it keeps the creepy crawlies away – I think I’ll be fine!

I’ve laid out the essentials on the bed:  Thermals, meds, money, quick dry gear, undies, water bottles, and soap.  Oh yeah – and did I mention we both got headlamps?!  Apparently its useful to wear them when you’re hiking in the jungle and on the Inca Trail in the pre-dawn hours.  A saleswoman at MEC even told me, “You need a headlamp because you want to see all the tarantulas in the Amazon, don’t you?”  Clearly, this woman know nothing about me.  In that case, ignorance really is bliss!

I’m feeling almost ready.  Still have to clean the apartment (I hate coming home to a messy place), drop the dog off at a friend’s house, and figure out what other supplies I can cram into my backpack!

Hopefully I’ll have time to update the blog once in awhile on the road – and let you know I’m still alive 🙂

Its hard to believe its been 2 years since our last big adventure, and like anyone with a case of serious wanderlust, we are both itching to head out on another big vacation. Since I’m not working at the moment, it seems like the perfect time!  The first question to ask, of course, is: Where should we go?!

Mike has always dreamed of seeing Macchu Piccu in Peru.  I’ve always liked archaeological sites and ancient civilzations, but I have to be honest here, and I’ve never had much of a desire to visit South America.  I’m not sure why exactly, but maybe its because I don’t know an awful lot about the history.  Oh, and it is also the continent with the most deadliest and scariest bugs and things.  Such as the world’s deadliest snakes:  The Bushmaster, and the Anaconda.  Basically I’m nervous to go anywhere where there is even a remote possibility of running into something like this:

Don’t even get me started on my real fear: spiders.  I’m so afraid of these things, that even looking for pictures of South American spiders in Google Images upset me and made me squirm in my seat, uttering little squeaks of terror while trying to close my screen as quickly as possible.  So yeah.  Spiders.  And lots of em!  Is it wrong that I’d rather run into a Jaguar than a tarantula or a banana spider?  Oh, and lets not forget the Human Bot Fly, which is a disgusting creation which basically proves that god does not exist, because even he could not be so mean as to create a bug like this.  Seriously, a fly that buries its larvae in humans, and you can feel it moving under your skin! You can die!!!!   It can eat into your BRAIN!

Personally, I’ve always wanted to go to Russia.  I’d love to see Saint Petersburg and Moscow, the homeland of the Tatars, and Ivan the Terrible.  I mean, how cool would seeing this in real life be?

Or we could travel to Germany and see Munich, Berlin, and the Eagle’s Nest.  Or Scotland.  I’d love to stay in a haunted castle in the highlands.  We were even thinking of doing a housing exchange with another couple – and we could basically stay for free somewhere in someone’s house!  What better way to feel like you’re really staying somewhere and getting a feel for the culture and the way everyday people live?  So yeah, we’ve got options!!!  Exciting!