We were lucky to get breakfast at 8.30 so got a great lie in. The bed was really comfy and I had an excellent sleep. Breakfast harked back to my Argentina/Chile days with stale white bread and jam. We did get an omelette which improved things slightly.
The mountains this morning were amazing. What a view to wake up to.
After breakfast our guide put inca face paint on us which was fun. I think I look pretty cool….
Afterwards he taught us about the traditional inca farming in the area, in particular coca leaves. I don’t think I’ve written about coca leaves here before. They’re the raw material for cocaine and they grow all over the place in Bolivia and Peru. You can buy them by the bag and most hostels offer free coca tea as it’s believed to help with altutude sickness. Our guide told us that local people chew the leaves for all kinds of things including the very high level of calcium in the leaves (apparently 3 times that of milk) and that it’s legal to grow then as long as you sell only to the government. He also told us about a narcotrafficing operation a couple of hours drive from our location that was eventually found by helicopters and shut down by the army! To get the cocaine from the leave apparently needs a lot of dangerous chemicals and processing so just chewing the leaves doesn’t get you high, but they are a natural anaesthetic so your mouth goes numb if you have too many!
After that we started walking. I was worried about our 7-8 hour trek today but for he first part I needn’t have been. After about 20 minutes of touch up hill the rest was down hill or flat and I reckon we only walked for about 2 hours to lunch as our guide stopped all the time to let us take pictures or tell us stories about the incas. Its probably some of the easiest hiking I’ve ever done and the views were nice too.
Lunch was very random. First we got a plate of very good guacamole followed by a very small plate of french fries, vegetables and what I’m fairly sure was mayonnaise dressing. So many french fries!!! Anyway, I could have sworn our guide said “this is the main course” so being hungry I held my breath and forced it down only to be presented 5 minutes later with quinoa soup, and then spaghetti bolognaise! I definitely got enough food today.
We met another very friendly cat…..
Post lunch we got an hour long nap in some hammocks by restaurant. I felt very sleepy when I woke up which probably wasn’t the intention! Next we had a couple of hours easy hike to a cable car across the river. Cable cars in this part of the world are a little different from at home!
Basically you sit in a tiny basic and someone pulls a rope to get you across! I was sent across with another guy in my group and had to hang my legs over the front which was pretty terrifying. The side bars are only about 6 inches high and the river below is so violent that its name means the God’s are speaking (its very loud!).
Afterwards it was on to some hot springs to swim. They were hot and spring like. Afterwards we opted to hike the 40 mins to our hostel. The last 15 minutes are very uphill so I’m not sure I’d recommend this! Anyway the hotel was nice and dinner want good. I asked for vegetarian so I got fried cheese that was something like halloumi with plantains and rice. We watched some of the Oscars in the restaurant which was interestingly decorated in very christmassy tinsel them crashed out at about 10pm.
A good second day!