In order to explain the last two weeks, I have to give (whoever doesn’t know me very well) a little history on why I do the things I do; I am a “Tough Ass Puta”, failure is never an option, and when faced with a challenge, I never ever give up. The Marine Corps beat the word “can’t” out of my vocabulary. When I signed up for the 5 day Salkantay Trek and saw that it was “challenging” I scoffed thinking it meant challenging to the average Joe, however, as per usual, I ended up eating my words. The 5 day Salkantay trek tested my body, mind, and spirit. Not only do you face erratic weather conditions (the first day was raining and cold, 2nd day Snow, 3rd day Jungle, 4th day blistering Sun), the altitude progressively limits your body’s endurance. Needless to say:
I was in the back.
I wasn’t alone, though, I had a motivator: Raul! What a cool ass dude! He always asked how I was doing, making sure I wasn’t about to die (the first 2 days I had a stomach virus and was crippled in pain and diarrhea). Jose, the head guide was also a complete bad ass, always pushing (in a positive way) and making sure we weren’t getting too crazy or running up mountains (not that we could).The Salkantay trek is said to be about 44 miles total (I think) it doesn’t seem like much but when you account for the weather, altitude, and uphill battles, I am amazed I completed it. The second day is the hardest, that’s when you actually climb Salkantay and get to the highest point of the trek. I was so sick that they put me on a horse to ride because I just couldn’t move at some points. When we reached some of the scariest points of the trail (cliffsides, etc) that’s when I had to fake the funk because horses can tell when you’re nervous and that definitely does not calm the situation down. At one point there was a snowy path and it looked a little slippery. The horse stumbled a bit and eventually fell off the path into a snowy cliff while I was on it. My catlike reflexes and fear of paralysis launched me to jump off the horse mid-fall and roll into the snow. After that, I decided it was better just to do my best to get to the top without shitting myself (stomach virus). I eventually made it, surprisingly. At the top of Salkantay Jose performed an Incan ceremony and spoke in Quechua, we had to blow on coca leaves and pray for something or someone in particular to be blessed. The only thing I could think of were the people at Santa Faustina and my girls.
I also lucked out in group members; because of this trek I have met some of the most interesting and positive people! We left our blood, sweat, and (some of us) tears on the trek- a hard bond to break.
The entire trek took a toll on my body, mainly my face. By the 4th day, my skin was purple and blistering. Before you get crazy about sunscreen I must also preface the fact that people offered, but in my head I am a brown Mexican, not a pale Chicana so I thought I would be getting my “tan on”, not my “cancer on”. On day 5 I couldn’t smile and I could barely open my mouth enough to eat. On our way to the train back to Cusco my new travel buddy, Nia, severely screwed up her foot. She was in tears, about to give up. I ended up giving her a piggy back ride to the bus. When we got to our hotel, we were so exhausted we couldn’t possibly care less about our war wounds. The morning, however, was a different story. We called a doctor in to see Nia for her foot and the focus quickly moved to my face. Apparently I got some sort of bacterial infection and had I not come sooner I would probably have scars all over my face right now! EEEP! 2 hours later I was admitted to a hospital bed with an IV, antibiotics, pain killers, and various creams to reduce my resemblance to Freddy Kreuger. I was there for 2 days waiting for my skin to grow back. All of my plans to come home had to be rescheduled. Nia’s plans had to be rescheduled too.
Which brings me to today, Thursday, July 14, 2011: I am in the lobby of my hotel in Cusco waiting for the appropriate time to head to the airport. I get to see my bebe’s today, which makes everything worth it. If not having them in my mind and heart the whole time, I probably wouldn’t have made it. I’m not trying to prove anything but the images and memories I have of all the crazy/funny/stupid shit they do kept me increasingly motivated.