We continue our exposition into the hiking adventures of James, Jeremy and myself along Bolivia’s Inca Trail. If you’ve only just joined us, here’s parts 1 & 2. Why would the Incas built a trail leading down to a cinder block camp ground in the jungle? No one knows. But we were grateful anyway. Slogging our way through the jungle with machetes for 4 days would have sucked.
The mood in our little tee-totaling tent had improved by morning and I felt the effects of 18 pounds of Beef Jerky catching up with me. So I untangled the mess that was my spinal cord, left the boys to finish packing up and embarked on a solitary sanitary walk to drop a hefty deposit in the great natural poo bank that is the untamed jungle of Bolivia. It went rather well, (I was proud of my efforts) but a warning to future travellers: there’s no treasure there. No long lost inca gold. Fossicking is unnecessary. Overturning oddly placed rocks on the ground will only result in heartache from here on in. If it looks out of place, just assume it doesn’t want to be touched. Whatever you do, wear shoes if you’re venturing off the trail. That should do it.
Other than Jeremy nearly dying, Day 3 was fairly uneventful. Some parts of the trail weren’t as well kept as others; this meant taking the occasional shortcut, at times to the detriment of our health and general wellbeing. One section of the path had become overgrown with jungle or DEA agents or something. It was blocked anyway, and Jeremy could see where it continued 10 or so ft below, so he grabbed a large branch and dropped himself over the ledge, preparing to lower himself down. It may have even been a leap, since we were in good spirits and had mastered the art of hiking without wincing or whimpering by now. Of course my back was a bloodied, twisted mess by now, but the morphine drip helped. The branch wasn’t aware of the Jeremy’s plan of attack however, and promptly snapped in two under his weight, hurling him down the embankment, 40 pounds of beef jerkey backpack protecting his liver and kidneys. We rushed (casually down the slope) to his aid, hauling his limp carcass off the pile of rocks that his face had used to cushion his landing. I think aside from some cuts he was ok and we all knew far off in the future his story would be retold, probably with much embellishment.
I don’t really remember much else about day 3, until the end, when we arrived at our destination: Mr Miyagi ‘s House. OK, sure, his real name was probably something else. But he was japanese and had lived out in the middle of nowhere for about 150 years watching hikers, seafarers and adventurers wander past his property. Rumor has it he moved there after the war, but no one ever actually says what war it was exactly. Could have been the American Civil War for all I know. He was shrouded in mystery like some kind of navy seal or something. He was probably best friends with Chuck Norris. Hopefully after all these years he’s still there. He built terraces on his land, with various fruit trees around the place, and let people stay overnight. I don’t think there was a cover charge, which stands to reason, because neither were there any valet, restaurant, concierge or busboy facilities. He kept a guestbook of everyone passing through and James was able to check his name off from many years before and he’d done the trail previously. I even recognized some of the names from the missing persons spots in the papers. I don’t remember anything else about Mr Miyagi, although we had a pleasant sleep next to his orange tree and dismal, paltry supplies compared to the feasts some of the other tourists seemed to be consuming.
Day4 would be our last on the Inca Trail. By now, it wasn’t a cobblestone road so much as a goat’s path through the foothills of the mountains. By midday we’d arrived at a reasonably large river, and after further trekking some miles downstream, happened upon the campsite. This was a good thing. James had forgotten where it was but knew it was around there someplace and we’d eventually find it or just end up dying. Awesome. We only had about 5 million square miles of jungle in which to find it. That night we stayed in the tent again, since everyone else was arriving the following day, and for our final meal together ate tuna and rice casserole cooked over the campfire in an old powered-milk tin. I’m HOPING it was our empty tin and not some rusted-out piece of tetanus or hepatitis waiting to happen. I do remember the casserole tasted great. Stuff always does when it’s protected by a thick layer of burnt rice and you’re starving. But we had made it. Trekking from high in the Andes to low in the personal hygiene stakes, we had conquered the Inca Trail in 4 days and told it what-for. We were no longer boys, but dirty, smelly things approaching manhood like a bear might approach refuse in a bag: excited but having doubts. Desperately in need of some clean underwear and some chlorine to rid our mouths of the Beef Jerky taste. Triumphant, we lay back around the fire and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the mosquito hordes; drifting off to sleep from massive blood loss and typhoid fever.
Camp itself was fairly uneventful. As is my nature, I got nowhere with several potential lady friends, but by now I preferred the freedom of the road anyway, wind in my hair, body odour deterring predators. Speaking of the road, the trip BACK from camp was in a bus on Bolivia’s famous Death Road™, on whose treacherous corners I certainly thought I’d lose my life. Several times over. If you haven’t had the chance to travel on the death road, I suggest you don’t. Try a hobby like knitting or rabbit breeding instead. Something that will ensure you long years and grandchildren and full control of your bowel. In one of the Top Gear Specials the boys travel on the death road, and I’ve stuck a short clip in so you can get a better idea of what it’s like. In an effort to hopefully protect myself from the wrath of the BBC legal team, because they’re avid listeners of the site, you can buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon by following this Link: Top Gear – Great Adventures 3. Sorry, I couldn’t find an old-school DVD version for those of you still living in the dark ages. If you can put up with 3 obnoxious poms and you love cars and Bolivia, it might be a perfect match.
[quicktime width=”624″ height=”352″]http://www.mktales.com/video/topgear/topgear.m4v[/quicktime]