After four days of trekking from Urubamba to Lares, we have finally been reintroduced to showers and general hygeine. As much as we missed the luxuries that we had during orientation, this trek allowed us to gain perspective and connect fully to our surroundings. The dramatic Peruvian landscape revealed itself to us as we trekked up steep mountains and through lush river valleys. At times it felt as though we were in a different world watching fog cascade across the blackened rock walls and over the verdant foothills, yet it reminded us of the way fog collects over the San Francisco Bay. Seeing the awe-inspiring results of Pachamama´s (Mother Earth´s) undisturbed work over thousands of years brought to light just how large of an impact western society has made upon the world. We take so much from the earth just to live our daily lives, while the indigenous people who call the Lares valley home live and work in harmony with Pachamama. Rather than abuse the resources that the Sacred Valley provides, they work on the basis of reciprocity and never take more than they are able to give back.
As much beauty as we experienced in these three days, we had our fair share of challenges to overcome. We began our journey already at over 9,000 feet and gained around 4,000 feet just on the first day. Many of us suffered the impact of this elevation gain: shallow breaths, sore muscles, and dehydration. Despite the literal uphill battle, we all made it to camp that first day with huge smiles on our faces. Little did we know the rain would start that night and continue through the next two days. Nonetheless, on day two we reached the crest at 14,800 feet and reflected on the perserverence that had carried us there. Knowing that it wouldn´t be wise to stay at the peak for too long, we fueled up on peanuts and began our descent towards our guide, Américo´s village. Because of the pouring rain and muddy conditions, his family was kind enough to invite us to sleep in a clay and rock shelter on their property. In the morning, Américo´s family shared with us a sacred food his ancestors have been cultivating for thousands of years. As we stood in a circle peeling the boiled potatoes that varied in color and flavor, we were given a taste of what is truly important to their culture. We set off that morning in higher spirits knowing we had a short, downhill trek until we reached our final destination. As we neared the hot springs in Lares, the clouds parted and the sun emerged for the first time in two days. We soaked our sore muscles in the natural hot springs and reflected over how far we had come. From our eager first hours to the winding drive back to Cusco, the energy of the group had shifted. We felt closer to each other and had developed a better understanding of our own limits and abilities. Collectively we want to thank the Lares trek for a memorable three days and introduction to our trekking experiences in Peru and Bolivia.
Libby and Annabelle