I do not feel I slept at all last night. My stomach was in knots and I felt very queasy. I had taken Imodium but that didn’t seem to help (I realized later than I took the wrong dosage so that may have contributed to the problem). On the positive, I never actually got sick. So today was supposed to be a long, but relatively easy day. We were awoken at 5 a.m. with breakfast at 5:30 and we set out shortly after 6:00. This is when I really started to not feel well. I couldn’t eat anything at breakfast – I managed to get down 2 pieces of bread and that was it. To make it even worse, it was slightly rainy when we started off so it was chilly and rocks were slippery. I decided I would just hang toward the back with Persis and Allan again and even felt a little bad that I may be holding them back, but they were very gracious. Seriously, I don’t think I would’ve survived without them.
So, from our campsite at Paqaymaya (11,480 feet or 3,500 meters), we did a gradual ascent toward our second pass on the trek, Qochapata at 12,916 feet, or 3,950 meters. It was an up and down hike so not as strenuous as the day before – definitely not as steep. But because I’d barely eaten anything since lunch the day before, I was starting to feel low on energy. And we were still at a pretty high altitude. So breathing was still tough on the uphill portions. Plus the rain somehow set off my allergies again, so my eyes were stinging and nose running like crazy. Not very pleasant! The one positive was at least hiking gave me something to think about to keep my mind off my stomach.
Our first stop, about an hour and 40 minutes into the day’s trek, was at the ruins of Runkurakay. David gave us a bit of a talk and the clouds cleared enough so we could get some pictures looking back at Dead Woman’s Pass. From there, we continued on to the pass and then started descending to our next stop at the ruins of Sayaqmarka. By that time, David was with me, Allan and Persis at the back so we didn’t miss any part of the talk since it couldn’t start until he got there. To get up to the ruins was a very steep stone staircase, but I was determined not to let not feeling well stop me from seeing anything.
On the way back down, the handle came off my walking stick again (it came off the first time after Dave stepped on it on Day 1, so I blamed him again this time!). He was good natured about it and loaned me his walking stick (about a foot too tall for me!) to get back down from the ruins and then he and Allan did some duct tape repair on it. Next was lunch at Chaquiqocha, at 12,033 feet or 3,680 meters. This is when I really kind of lost it. My stomach still felt so bad and I couldn’t even handle looking at food. And everyone kept trying to suggest different stuff for me to try to eat and I just couldn’t. I was so frustrated at this point, I started crying – I couldn’t help it! I was so mad that my body wasn’t cooperating! I’m in good shape and did everything I was supposed to do to prevent altitude sickness and I was still sick! Everyone was very sympathetic at this point and by after lunch I did manage to get down a little trail mix and later on I had part of an energy bar, so that helped. And again, once we started walking, that helped to take my mind off my stomach.
From lunch it was downhill, then one more uphill to the third pass at 12,000 feet or 3,670 meters and then a descent of nearly 1000 meters. It was a long hike! Lunch was very early – around 11 or so. I think we left the lunch site around 12:10, made it to the third pass around 1:30, and then finally to the campsite at Winay Wayna around 4:20. Again, David hung back with me, Persis and Allan. At some point, I started feeling a good deal better and probably could’ve gone on ahead, but there was no way I could catch up with the first group, and I didn’t want to be walking alone.
The day was overcast and rainy for several hours, but eventually it cleared enough that we could get some photos. Not nearly as many as the day before, though. It was too bad because that part of the hike is supposed to be the most scenic and beautiful, but much of it was lost in the clouds. It was still enjoyable and much easier going downhill despite some difficult slippery rocks. I could at least breathe! We also bided some time by singing songs (Sweet Caroline, Piano Man) and Allan played the harmonica. Just before getting to Winay Wayna, we caught up with Murray, Christine and Lee Ann. Lee Ann had fallen and twisted her ankle pretty good so she was struggling. By the time we got to the site, some of the others had already showered (they had hot showers and a bar there!). I just did another sponge bath rather than showering. I hadn’t brought stuff to shower and I figured, what was one more day?
We had tea at 4:40 and then Omar took several of us to see the ruins of Winay Wayna. I was feeling a lot better at this point and I also wanted to try to make up for some of the social interaction I missed out on from always being at the back and from beign sick and grumpy earlier. So I went, and so did Persis, Allan, Kelsey, Dave and the Norwegian girls. The ruins were really beautiful – partly like an enormously steep amphitheatre. I joked that they should invite U2 to play there! And hardly anyone was there, which was really nice. I chatted with the Norwegian girls a bit and we came to the conclusion that I got sick from eating too many coca candies on Tuesday. Didn’t think of that before, but it definitely would make sense. I was drinkign coca tea like crazy and sucked on several (6 or 7??) coca candies on the way up to Dead Woman’s Pass because they helped keep my mouth mosit and I felt like they helped me breathe better. But that may have been overkill. Apparently David told Murray that too much of the coca leaves can make you sick so maybe the coca candies and tea did the same for me.
Dinner was good – I was able to get some food down finally! And the cook presented us with a very yummy cake frosted with “Welcome to Machu Picchu.” After dinner there was a little ceremony where one member of the group gave a speech in Spanish thanking the porters and the cook. Christine got nominated for this. Then we were supposed to sing a song and somehow we ended up deciding on “head, shoulders, knees and toes” complete with the actions. The porters seemed very amused. Finally, Allan played Waltzing Matilda on his harmonica and Chris and Lee Ann danced around to it. A couple of the porters jokingly started dancing too, which got a good laugh. Last, we went through a line and thanked the porters personally – handshakes with most, kisses on the cheek with a few. I had heard that this whole part could get cheesy, but I think we all got a good laugh of it. (on a side note there was a bit of drama earlier regarding the tipping of the porters, since Peru Treks asks that we pool our money into a group tip for the porters and cook rather than tip them individually – with different people having different philosphies on tipping, this got a little uncomfortable…).
After dinner, Kelsey, Dave, Lee Ann, Persis and Allan went to the bar for one drink (I had a Sprite). We went to bed around 9:30 or so but there were a lot of people moving arund the campsite and around 11:00 some guy yelled out “bear!” really loud. We also had someone in a nearby tent snoring up a storm, which seemed to keep everyone awake too. Not sure how much I actually managed to sleep…