Yesterday may have been one of the most exciting and adventurous days of my life, but the universe quickly balanced out that high with today being one of the most awkward days of my life. It all started with the morning wake-up call and continued all the way until I finally laid down to sleep.
Survivor: The Machu Pichu Edition
As I mentioned previously, I heard Alex yelling some nonsense late last night/early this morning that suggested he would not be in the most pleasant of moods upon eventually waking up for the day. Right I was, as I was a bit confused when he woke everyone up about a half hour earlier than expected and with the announcement that there would be no ziplining today (ziplining was an optional activity to do in lieu of walking for three hours in the morning).
As we sat eating breakfast in mostly silence, Alex began with an impressively detailed account of all that happened last night and how he, as a professional, has decided that ziplining would be canceled because he wanted to follow the exact route the tour delineated. This was a very convoluted point he was making so I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, he was basically cranky and probably hungover and wanted to punish the entire group for the actions of another. I’m still not entirely sure if it’s just that he was ill practiced in conflict resolution or if he was trying to stage some strange psychological experiment where he turned half of the group against the other half. I half expected Jeff Probst or some other reality show host to rock on up and tell us this was the start of our challenge – to see who makes it up Machu Pichu fully intact.
Regardless of what really happened in his room, I thought Alex was acting like a petulant child. I’ve been woken up at some impressive hours in the past and I’ve gotten over it, partly because I’m sure I’ve been the culprit more than a few times in my life and partly because I think that there are worse options for being woken up in the middle of the night, such as being pissed upon. As he continued the painfully long and awkward recount of last night’s events in English, I continued to sit back with my forehead in my left palm wiping down against my face as if to try and suppress the great urge I had to start laughing out loud (I tend to have a laughing response when I’m caught in the middle of an argument between other people and I find that laughing tends to piss both parties off, hence why I try to suppress the urge to giggle).
After the group stuck together and threatened mutiny against Alex, he eventually came to his senses and called off his bluff. It was a tense half hour in a sweaty hot restaurant, but we all moved on. I spent the morning loafing around in a hammock and socializing with the Intrepid Trio while the others went ziplining. Normally I would be tickled to dangle from a suspension line and whip around the forest, but I had already had a pretty amazing ziplining experience in Costa Rica and I was getting close to maxing out my budget for the month, so I decided to save this for another time. Besides, I think ziplining is more fun when you’re actually in the canopy as opposed to just flying way above it.
Back on Track
The afternoon hike was rather languid and uneventful for the most part. We walked along the train tracks all the way up to Aguas Calientes. The scenery around us was beautiful, but the monotony of the train tracks coupled with the rain and the fact that my legs were turning into useless butter sticks were putting a damper on my mood. Plus the fact that effects of my hangover were starting to kick in was none too helpful either.
After three more long uncomfortable hours of hiking and one last uphill struggle, we finally made it to Aguas Calientes, our final stop before Machu Pichu and for me another mirage of civilization. My eyes bugged out when I saw the 4-star hotels and abundance of restaurants, shops and other signs of developed settlements. I never thought of myself as being such a prissy city girl, but the drool from my mouth at the sight of Visa/MasterCard stickers on storefronts was a sure sign I missed the pleasantries of my usual habitat. Even though I was running low on my monthly budget, I still contemplated ditching crazy Alex and the group for some more luxurious digs in a gringa friendly hotel. This later became quite an ironic thought. I settled into the tour group hostel, took my much needed shower and set off exploring my gringa heaven.
As I said before, today was a day of awkwardness and I was already emotionally and physically spent at this point in the trek. I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep after dinner and mentally prepare for the early morning hike up to Machu Pichu.
As I was sitting in the lobby, checking a few e-mails before heading up to my room, Alex comes walking up with a contrary look on his face, half like he’s going to scold me and half like he’s going to apologize. It was the latter. He came to inform me that I would not be staying in this hostel because the tour group that I booked with actually booked me a different hotel, a much nicer hotel with a private bathroom. Earlier during dinner there was some price discovery about what people paid for the tour and we found out that everyone went with different operators. I was none too pleased to find out that I had paid much more than everyone else. However, upon hearing that I would be in a nicer hotel I felt some sense of relief. Yet I was kind of pissed off that I only found out with six hours left before I had to wake up for the next morning’s hike.
Alex helped me move my stuff to the hotel which wasn’t too far. I contemplated taking another shower just to enjoy the hot water, but reasoned that sleep was a bigger priority at this point. Just as I was about to lay down to sleep, I heard a knock at the door. I figured it was the receptionist with my towel. It wasn’t. It was Alex with my towel. Now he had a clearly defined look of apology and want. He gave me the eyes as he explained how sorry he was about the mess with my hotel room and how he hopes I’m having a wonderful trek. He paused and nervously stood in my doorway for about 30 seconds before commenting on how he understood how sore I must be from the hike and then proceeded to offer me a massage. At this point in my life, I’ve become a master at disguising my “Are you fucking kidding me?” thoughts behind an innocent and dumb school girl expression for the sake of saving one’s ego and avoiding further awkwardness. I let it go and urgently locked the door behind me. I crash landed into bed and began processing the events of the last 24 hours before falling asleep with my last thought being, “…and I thought I wouldn’t have anything to write about.”