If you want to face death on the side of a forested cliff in the middle of the night (and possible live to tell the tale), then catch the night bus from Pilcopata to Cusco. It was the same incredibly bad road that we took to get to Pilcopata on Monday; but it was wet, it was uphill, and it was pitch-black. Massive unsealed pot-holes, in the dark. Hairpin cliff-side bends, in the dark. Passing oncoming vehicles on a road thinner than Kylie's waist, in the dark. Next time, I think I'll walk back.
Today began our three-day trip to Parque Nacional del Manú, and to the jungle town of Pilcopata therein. The trip has been organised by Ashley, who has someone in her family that works for the tour company that we're with, Selva Inka. The people on the trip are: myself; Ashley; Wil; Stephan; and Chris. Our first day consisted, more than anything else, of a very long, very trying bus ride from Cusco to Pilcopata.
This afternoon, train track trek is exactly what we did, in order to walk from Hidro Electrico, to tonight's haunt of Aguas Calientes. It literally was about 3 hours straight of walking either on or right beside the train line that goes (almost) to Machu Picchu. Long, tedious, and a bit risky when we had to jump off the track to make way for an oncoming train. But it got us there.
There's one thing I can say about today, that really sums up the day's hiking: it was a bitch. We walked for almost 9 hours today. We left Soraypampa at 7:30am this morning, and the quicker people among us (myself included) didn't get to tonight's campsite of Challway until 5:30pm. The morning may have been hard, but the afternoon was long. It was one really long downhill slog, that just dragged on and on forever. Today really was not for the faint-hearted.
As part of our board at the Flying Dog, we get free breakfast each morning at the D'onofrio café, which is just downstairs. However, D'onofrio's "free menu" is rather limited: either toast and jam; toast and egg; or fruit salad. Since I'm still (trying to) observe Pesach, I can only choose the latter option. And at this point, I'm starting to get sick of it.
One of the few recreational activities available in Lima itself is paragliding. You can do this just down the road from Miraflores, taking off on the tall cliffs that overlook Lima's pebbly, polluted beach coast. This afternoon, I decided to give the paragliding a try. Sadly, it turned out that paragliding today was not to be.
599 is one flight number that I'm not going to forget for a long time. My flight from San Francisco to Vancouver was meant to leave at 12:25pm today. After boarding one aircraft, getting kicked off it and being sent back into the terminal, waiting for a long time, and boarding a second aircraft, we finally took off just after 7pm. So instead of arriving in Vancouver by 3pm, as I originally intended, I was out of the airport by about 9:30pm. This must have been the longest "express" flight from SF to Vancouver known to mankind. It was a long and boring day.
I can understand that hiring a laptop is not the most common thing in the world these days. After all, why would you hire a laptop when it's so cheap to just buy one? And if you're going overseas and you need a laptop when you get there, why not just bring your own? But I would have thought that despite these things, there would still be enough demand to make it reasonably easy to find places that rent laptops. Especially in the San Francisco bay area, which is one of the most hi-tech and online places in the world. Considering what a hard time I had finding a laptop hire service, I guess not.
This flight was even longer than my flight a month earlier, from Los Angeles to Mexico City: today's flight took me a good 4.5 hours. Because I had to get up at 3:30am to make it this morning, I was absolutely dog tired; unfortunately, though, it was too sunny for me to get any shut-eye on the plane. This United flight was quite pleasant: I had some friendly fellow passengers, and there was even something good on the TV.
My first experience of mailing stuff home from overseas wasn't as difficult as I was dreading; but then again, it also wasn't without its hurdles. There was no way I was going to cart around all the shmontses and shmutters that I bought this morning, so I quickly made my way to the San Cristóbal oficina de correos (i.e. "post office"), and arranged for it all to be sent Down Under.