Ready, set, trek! Some members of our adventure team picked us up at Albergue Churup at the bright and early hour of 6:15. Inga and I had packed everything the night before and had a shower (the last one for 10 days) so we were all set to go in the morning.
The van was filled with everything the six of us would need for the next 10 days. Our packs, not having been this light for quite some time, were added to the food, the "bathroom" tent; the cooking tent; the eating tent; our guide Eli's tent, and the combination tent for Humberto, the cook, two arrieros and supplies. After the paperwork was complete, we dropped off Ted, the Skyline rep, and headed to the mountains.
Our adventure team of Eli, our kind and very knowledgeable guide and leader; Humberto, cook extraordinaire (vegetarian cooking was not a challenge for him); the super sweet arrieros and a full complement of four legged friends: five mules, three donkeys and two horses.
The three-hour van ride to the trailhead was an adventure in itself. Vehicles casually drift from right to left and left to right to avoid the many potholes. We stopped along the way to have breakfast on the side of the road, and what a satisfying breakfast it was! A flacky pastry filled with apple and cinamon (and not too sweet at all), a lactose-free yogurt drink and a banana grown right here in Peru. A very fine start to Humberto's delights.
And then there was the drive up the mountain; the dirt road was very (very) narrow and had rocks and bumps to add to the thrill. Up and up we went past fertile fields of corn, potatoes, alfalfa (the food of choice for guinea pigs) and other vegetables that I did not recognize. What hard working people they are. Fields are tilled by bulls and harvest is done by hand.
We started the hike while the arrieros, with some help from Huberto, packed up the gear and the donkeys and one of the horses. We walked slowly in the splendid sunshine and my mind was blown. I can't believe where I am and all of the splendour I have seen. And this is only the beginning of the trek!
I am enveloped by the mountains.