Salkantay Trek – Day 3

Me being amused and annoyed
Mmmm pancakes with potatoes on top

I woke up over and over the second night to yelling and laughing. I laid and listened. Sometimes it sounded so angry and forceful I waited for sounds of a fist fight then laughing would begin again. It continued until we were woke up the next morning. Apparently no one had gotten much sleep. After dinner the cooks had started drinking and carried on all night long. They were still drunk when making breakfast. Poor Reuben and Matteo had to make them put something together for us to eat. When breakfast showed up half an hour late it was porridge so watery that was served in a pitcher and we drank it out of cups and a pancake with a dry potato on top.

This time Reuben did not kiss his fingers and say, “is delicious!”

After our substandard breakfast we headed out for another day of hiking. Once out of sight of the camp Reuben stopped us.

“So sorry my Champions. The cooks, they drink much last night and didn’t make for you a good breakfast this morning. So sorry. Reuben is a little furious with them this morning but you will have a good lunch my Champions. Ok my family?”

Rueben makes me melt.

He looked genuinely sorry. I felt bad because he got up earlier than anyone to make sure we had our coca tea and breakfast and then to had to deal with our drunk cooks. He led the group out again. It was going to be an easy day of about six hours with a drop in elevation of about 2,300 feet in nine miles.

We passed so many waterfalls trickling through the Andes that I lost count. The hills seemed to get steeper as we went. Eventually, we reached the bottom of the valley and walked through a small town before stopping at the building where we would eat lunch. There were three kitchens, each a dingy room with a sink and countertop. I also noticed there seemed to be three classes of cooks. The first was wearing a proper chef’s jacket and hat with his tour company embroidered on it (apparently these people paid more than $45/day). The next was wearing jeans and a button up shirt and seemed very focused on making guacamole. Our cooks were in the third kitchen, wearing sweats and stumbling around still drunk and shouting at each other. I sighed. I couldn’t even be one of the posh people on a trek in a Peru! Reuben was right though, lunch was better than breakfast. We also had guacamole and what I think were alpaca steaks.

From there we were to take a van 45 minutes to the campsite for the day. There were two vans parked outside the restaurant. I was relieved. I thought that meant there would be room to stretch out and maybe take a nap during the ride.

As it turned out, only one of the vans was ours. It was a 14 person van. We filled each seat then everyone else had to occupy standing room. When the van was absolutely full there was still Reuben, a cook and one other who wouldn’t fit. The cook, who was still drunk, got on the roof and the other two followed. Someone outside tried to shut the door. It was too full of people and wouldn’t latch. You could see a hiking boot sticking out into the air as we started off. In total we had managed to fit 22 people into the van. One of the drunk cooks was crouching near the door. He kept dozing off and laying his head on one of the Brit’s knees.

When we arrived at our campsite we all headed off for the local hot springs. It had been three days since anyone had showered and we were all in need of one. We stayed there till dark and then went to the campsite for dinner. It was the usual pasta and rice. The Brits and I talked about food from home. They were also scandalized by the thought of biscuits and gravy and thought the whole idea was absolutely absurd. They were so easily flabbergasted that it was too hard to resist telling them one of the dirtiest jokes I knew. I thought they would faint. They were in an uproar the rest of the evening.