Day Four! Its finally here! I remember sometime in the distant past, months and months ago, looking up things about the Inkan Trail online, and thinking how cool it all sounded on the world wide web machine, and how excited I would be to hike to one of the wonders of the world. Facing a 3:40am wakeup call, a few more hours of predawn hiking with knees the size of cantaloupes, and a persistent cough that vaguely reminds me of the tuberculosis case I saw when volunteering at the medical clinic in Honduras, all to reach the SunGate by sunrise hadn’t exactly been part of the intinerary detailed on the websites….but we were excited to finally be reaching our true destination. Four days later.

Natasha had a truly nasty infected blister that required some assistance from a reeeeeally hot army guy we called Doctor Wade. After three days and a crew of thirteen girls, all of us were falling all over ourselves asking him questions and cooing as he placed antibac and bandaids on Tasha’s ankle, breathlessly calling him our hero, giggling and thanking him over and over. Three days hiking on an ancient, sacred trail, no electricity or proper toilets, 4 in the morning, and we hadn’t forgotten how to flirt!

We finally hit the mountainside paths…It was less of a hike and more like a painful, rock scrambling uphill climb, anxiously trying to following our guide. We were literally climbing up a rock staircase ladder on all fours at one point, wondering what the heck the Inkans were thinking…these guys were less than five feet tall and yet their stairs are two feet each? Gluttons for punishment. We kept saying “slow and steady wins the race….screw winning, I just want to survive!”

We finally got to the gate, and then it was magical, and it was truly breathtaking, looking down at this incredible sacred stone city that had taken a century to build, had been abandoned to preserve it from the conquering Spaniards, had survived hundreds of years of earthquakes crazy natural disasters by the genius of the Inkas, and rediscovered by accident, watching the sun crawl across it, revealing more and more every minute, standing with the dozens of people I had come to recognize from four days of passing me on the trail, and with my new best friends the Crazians, and the two girls I had spent every minute of the last four months with, our adventure of a lifetime culminating with this truly awesome moment.

At the same time, I can’t deny a small, nonoverwhelmed part of me was like “the train here is three hours and six dollars….and I just spent four days, five hundred dollars, I can’t catch my breath and my legs are so shaky I feel like I’m going to collapse, my knee is swollen to the size of a cantaloupe, and I would have seen the same thing….was it worth it? we didnt take the train because….????” But then the overwhelmed part spoke back up and reminded me that yeah, it was totally totally worth it. Because standing on that mountain, looking back at some of the toughest days of my life, and looking down at Macchu Piccu, was freaking cool, man.

We scrambled down the mountain to take more and more pictures, all the postcard shots, and hang out with wild llamas, and Natasha and I even managed to nap on holy Inkan ground in the equatorial sun. (Its summer in Peru, hence my lovely tan to all these pasty wintry people back here at home! Hoorah!) and after touring through the grounds, we went to have a celebratory lunch in Aguas Calientes and get some lovely certificates indicating we had survived the horrific trail. Survival is definitely important to note, as some guy had had a heart attack and died on the Gringo Killer the week before (suddenly the name is not so funny…) and someone had fallen from the Wayna Picchu mountain and died a few weeks earlier as well….so we’re pretty proud of these certificates, all bruises, sore muscles, and aching lungs considered. One of the wonders of the world, and I got to go! I was there! I walked all over this history.
Life is good. Life is really, really good.
Love you miss you wish you were here
Raquel

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