Day 69: Jungle trail to Machu Picchu; day 1

P1050241We both woke to olly at 5.20am after having a really good sleep!! It was pretty hard to get up cos we were both dead to the world! But Ben got the ball rolling while I stayed out to it for about ten mins. Our usual early morning routine. We went down and cheekily asked where we could leave our luggage for the next 4 days, knowing full well we wouldn’t be staying at this place again! But meh they let us! Our van arrived just after 6am to pick us up on this absolutely freezing cold morning in cusco! I had so many clothes on and was still bitterly cold! Edinburgh all over again! Another Canadian couple also from our hostel were on our tour. We drove around and picked up 4 more so we had a group of 8 for the next 4 days – 2 Canadians, us, 2 scots from Edinburgh, one French dude and an English lady. Pretty good group – no Americans!! Amazing! We drove for about 15 mins to the Lorenzo lodge where they had breakfast waiting for us and a free t-shirt. Ben got a really cool one but unfortunately they were all massive P1050245on me so there was no point in putting something else in my tiny bag to carry round for the next 4 days. Breakie was average but was good to have a chat to the group and get to know everyone. We got told we were very lucky to have a group of 8 cos in 2 days time there is a group of 44 starting!!! Thank goodness! So after being briefed we all piled back into our van which now had bikes piled on the top of it and set off on a 3 hour drive to the summit of Abra Malaga which stands 4350m above sea level. Midway through we stopped to get a coffee and then to use the cash machine in Ollantaytambo which I recognised immediately as where El and I had breakie before we started our inca trail 2 years ago! Seems crazy I’m back here! We continued on at this point along a very windy road making our ascent. Within an hour and a half we had gained P10502462km and the landscape had gone from greenery to moonscape with snow at the top. Ben was snapping away out the window while I concentrated on not being sick! But it really was gorgeous!We got to the top and parked up then put our all clothes on on top of each as it was freaking freezing!!! Together with our biking jacket and green Lorenzo vest, helmet, shin pads and gloves I was totally enveloped in clothes! Ben said I looked like the Michelin man – whatever the heck that is! They fitted us for our bikes and then gave us a bit of a lesson on how it worked, we took a few snaps at the top and then we were off. I was quite scared initially cos it was all downhill with some particularly sharp turns on the edge of the cliff but after about 15mins I got used to it and felt much more confident. The road was really well paved and maintained which made it much easier. Ben was behind me Geared up and ready to go...and we both got stuck behind a girl in our group going very very slowly and although we were in single file I could feel Ben fuming without words and totally imploding behind me! Thankfully after an hour the group stopped and we all pulled over for a break to take some pics at a view point. We were pretty annoyed we didn’t have any stops before that though cos the scenery was absolutely stunning as we wound down and we couldn’t capture any of it!! &#x1F61EWe started off the next leg determined not to be behind Jessica cos Ben needed to be set free!! Unfortunately as soon as we started pedalling bens chain came off so we stopped and looked at it, then he had to glide downhill just braking on the corners. Lucky there wasn’t much need for pedalling and even luckier about 5 mins ahead everyone had stopped to bike slowly through a giant pool of water with our driver taking pics. So our guide fixed bens bike thankfully! I thought Our tour group bike convoyhe was gonna be stuck with a broken chain for the next 2 hours. We had decided if there weren’t gonna be many stops Ben would attempt to bike and take pics so we have a number of blind self shots and shots of me behind him! Better than nothing. This second leg was a bit harder as it was some flat and slightly uphill too. So about an hour and a bit in I really was struggling to breathe like 2 years ago in this stupid altitude! I needed to stop for water but there was no stops so battled through but we were all pleased when we stopped after 3 hours and could have a cold drink and take some layers off coz it was now so hot!! But we would have all loved to go right back up and do it all over again cos it was so so beautiful and so much fun gliding down the mountain. In total we dropped 2km in altitude and went from 4350m to 2100m where we stopped for lunch. <br style="color: font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, P1050252sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal;” />Lunch was pretty nice actually – chicken sweet potato entrees, soup, chicken and rice then jelly for dessert!! It was 3.15pm by the time we had lunch and had eaten breakie at 6.45am so we were all pretty hungry and appreciative of a yummy meal!! Unfortunately when getting changed I stood on a bee or got stung by a horse fly on the bottom of my foot and it’s pretty sore! Hopefully it’s all good tomo for our 7hr hike!After filling up and getting clothes off and jandals on we hopped back in the bus for a 25 min drive to Santa Maria where we are staying tonight. We had all been told we had a shared bathroom and a dorm so weren’t that excited but were super pleased to find even though really basic, we had private rooms and bathrooms! We has P1050255the next few hours to chill out and spent it having a lie down, walking into the ‘town’ – you can see the happening town in the pic – to find a shop that sold a bar of soap cos our amazing hostel didn’t have any and I refuse to have an ice cold shower if I can’t even wash myself! Anyway, we found some and found ‘Benjamin’ written and spray painted numerous times on walls, buildings and lamp posts! Odd. After having a freezing limb by limb shower on my part, we joined the others and played cards for half an hour before heading to dinner. Wilbur (our guide) took us to the only bar in town who made us our included meal. It wasnt bad. Pumpkin soup, very tough steak and a weeny bit of ice cream for dessert! We are now back in our hostel with curtains that don’t cover the windows and no toilet paper in the loo! Luckily I have bought some of my own I would say until P10502565 mins ago when I accidentally dropped the whole roll on the floor which is also the floor of our shower! Think it’s time for sleep! ESP cos we have to meet at 6.30am tomo for our massive hike day!!

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