First day of the Machu Picchu Jungle Trail trip.
There are many routes to Machu Picchu. Well, all roads lead to Rome. The most famous and expensive one is Salkantay Trek or Inca Trail. It’s so popular that you need to book it in advance. But I guess with the pandemic still around, you don’t need to wait for that long. Anyway, I was on a very tight budget (my ATM card and my credit card weren’t working) and a backpacker that I met in Ecuador recommended another tour to me that was this one – biking and hiking tour. I wasn’t good at biking but I was ok with hiking. I had asked about the biking trip at the tour company. They said if I really couldn’t do it, I could stay on the bus. Having been reassured, I joined the tour.
The meeting time was early. I woke up at 4:45am and then slept again and then got out of bed at 5am. The other people in my room got up at the same time too but they went to Machu Picchu by themselves – they didn’t join any tours.
I arrived at McDonald’s at the main square and saw a lady who was also waiting for the tour guide. We talked for a while and then a few other girls joined us.
The tour bus came. There were 10 of us.
We went through Sacred Valley and then stopped at a high point where we started biking. It was foggy.
We were given all the equipment like helmets, gloves, vests etc.
Ok, I biked.
It was scary. I couldn’t control the bike very well. According to Helen, it was easy, ‘Just go downhill. You don’t need to use the pedal at all.’ True except for one thing – the road was very winding and it was a road for cars and trucks. There was a cliff on my right. I was scared. At first I was thinking ‘right, I can do it.’ But as this thought came, the road started to become winding. I lost confidence, then lost balance and then fell over.
The tour guide was behind me. He stopped. He told me the roads would be winding for the next two hours. My eyes popped out. I immediately said ‘ok I will get on the bus’. He said the last part would be better. The road would be wider and it would not be that steep. So I told him I would do the last part.
Here came the last part. It was still scary. But I could control the bike a bit better. The road was still winding so I kept braking. I was as slow as the tortoise in the race. Our tour bus was behind me. I was afraid of speeding as I was still not familiar with the bike and the road. Speaking of the bike, it was different from the ones I was used to. It was actually more professional… and was fast, so fast that I was uncomfortable with it. After all, I considered myself as a beginner. For the other people in my tour group, as they were used to biking, it wasn’t a problem for them at all and they did it very well. They were much faster than I was, of course.
And I became the laughingstock for some Dutch travellers in my group. To them, I was weak and fragile. (I just want to remind myself here that I was a runner and had won medals at school in 400m races. As I age, I can’t do too much. I had knee problems and a few years after this trip, I was diagnosed with osteopenia. So, it was a big achievement that I could have travelled to so many places. Even if these people thought I was weak and fragile (they later insulted me. When another traveller heard that, he grimaced), I knew I wasn’t. I may be physically week, but I am not mentally. We don’t need anyone to confirm our abilities.)
I could do it in the end although I didn’t finish the whole thing. For the whole time, I was so concerned about the winding roads and the turns that I couldn’t enjoy it. I was concentrating on the road all the time. I did a left turn. I’m weak in doing left turns. But I overcame it. Then I did some more turns and I crossed a wet road which was still under construction. I did it!! Yeah! But because I used the brake all the time, my right hand was tired so I stopped and told the guide that I wanted to rest. And I was back on the bus again 😅 That was the time when I realised how slow I was. I could feel that the driver was driving his bus happily. Sorry.
I hadn’t biked for 10 years maybe? Even when I was biking, I did all that on flat paths. One of the travellers from my group said, ‘it isn’t a good place to start.’ 😅 Thanks for reminding me of that. 😅
It was good to know some people from the tour. They knew a cheap way to travel around South America. 😊 So that was very helpful for me. 😊
We were staying in a little town called Santa Maria. Some went white water rafting. I was staying in the hostel writing my journal. I had to be very careful about money now.
The hostel we stayed at was an unfinished building. They were going to build another level. An Australian guy and a Swedish girl from our group went to the roof to read together. It was so obvious that he was interested in her. 😄
My room was very hot. I was sweating as I wrote this journal. The room was on the upper most level and the ceiling was just a piece of metal sheet. It was so hot and humid. I heard from another traveller that we were very close to a rainforest.
We would explore the forest soon. Stay tuned.
2 December 2012
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