Of all the faces from back home, Mitchell's was about the last I expected to see. I've known Mitchell for literally my entire life: he was born one day before me, in the hospital bed next to mine. And tonight, 21 years later, I bumped into him in the bar at Loki, here in Cusco. Actually, it was he that recognised me. Anyway, he's almost at the end of his trip: he's already been here for a while, and he was in Europe and North America for a while too; and soon he's going back home.
Jack and I met each other briefly at Loki last week, and then we both went on a hike (on different ones) to Machu Picchu. Now, we're both back. By amazing coincidence, we're also both away for roughly the same 12-month period, we both have similar trip plans (or lack thereof), and we both get along really well. I've been hanging out with Jack this weekend, post-Salkantay; and I'm sure it's not the last time we'll see each other on this trip. Because Jack's a champion.
Ido is in the group adjacent to mine on the Salkantay hike, and he's both an intolerable and a friendly / entertaining guy, all at once. This is because of the (only) two things that he talks about. He's intolerable because he never stops talking about his love of Israel, about how proud he is to be an officer in the IDF, and about how defending Israel's right to exist is so important (bevakasha, habibi — genukh!). But he's also entertaining, because he also never stops talking about women: about adventures past with them, about crazy things he's done with them, and about which one's he's got the hots for right now.
There couldn't have been a more able representative of fair Ireland, to grace our Salkantay hike group, than Dave. Dave showed up on day 1, having had zero sleep and gallons of alcohol the night before; and the first thing he did was down a large Cusqueña, "to keep me going fer the day". And, amazingly, keep him going it did.
The two Belgian couples that were in my group on the Salkantay hike — Maes and Stef, Ellen and Stijn — will be fondly remembered for many things. They can drink beer until the cows come home. They can sing Waltzing Matilda. And they can honestly claim that they were part of the world-first Australian-Belgian salute, at the top of the world in Peru. What's more, they truly are one of the friendliest bunch of people I've met on my trip so far.
Therese is one of the many seldom-sober Irish girls that are staying at Loki. Therese has been here for about a month, she's starting work at the hostel, and she has no immediate plans to leave. Tonight, when we took Therese to Uptown for a big night, she kept going until 6am. The staff had to kick us out of the club, because we were the last ones there. We ended up virtually carrying Therese back to Loki.
This nice couple from Manchester — "Home of the Manchester City team, not Manchester United, I'll have ye know" (as Gaz says) — caught the bus with me from Lima to Ayacucho, and we hung out together in Ayacucho for a few days. Gaz is a mechanic for BMW, and Cath is a PE teacher. Like me, they're on a year-long round-the-world trip (except they're nearing the end of theirs); and, like me and every other gringo in Peru, they're on their way to Cusco to do the Machu Picchu hike.
Chris became a good mate of mine, during my week at the Flying Dog in Lima. Chris is a Canadian, a very well-travelled guy (although he's new to the Latin world), and a producer of home-made wine. He's also a vegetarian. He's a great guy to have philosophical chats with as well.
This Swedish brother-and-sister pair were staying with me at the Flying Dog. They're both fairly quiet, although not by Swedish standards, I guess. They're also both big drinkers and big smokers (however, Maja was sick for most of the week — so she had to drink and smoke even more, in order to get better :P). These two, myself, and Chris ended up hanging out together a fair bit.
Had a random reunion here at the Green Tortoise: bumped into Karl from London, who I last saw back in Mérida, in south-eastern Mexico. After Mérida, Karl continued on to Cancun (while I went to Valladolid, then Playa, then Tulum), where he was hoping to revel in the heat of Spring Break.