The town of Achupallas
We wanted to get onto an Inca Trail that started from the town of Achapullas an hour away from Alausí, but there were no buses, so we were forced to ride the back of a pick up truck. We jumped on the pick up expecting to leave promptly, and with the naive hope of having the back of the pick up to four people. However, the driver had other ideas and only after 45 minutes of driving around town and picking up a grand total of 17 people (plus us 2) and numerous sacks of fruits, vegetables, and grains, we left to Achapullas. Needless to say the ride was lacking in space, which was fine for the most part. Until a man stopped to pick up the most God-awful tasting and smelling alcohol drink known to man, and a good 5 people got plastered on something that must have been over 100 proof (D tried a small shot, and burped it for the next 4 hours).
The hut that saved our asses
One guy got so dunk that we started talking about what would happen if he should fall off the bus. Luckily, he only provided comic relief by repeatedly smacking his head against a log that held a cover over us (as it drizzles/rains a lot). We arrived to Achapullas and went to the only hotel in town (barebones but nice). The town had that eerly but nice feeling of small towns where the foreigner is the equivalent of a freak show, especially with huge backpacks. We spent the rest of the day walking around, resting and taking care of a few things before leaving for the trail. We woke up early, and hit the road at 7:30 as we wanted to go pretty far. Too bad the weather had other plans for us. The begining of the hike was really nice, and the uphill wasn't too bad as it was pretty gradual.
A view from the top of the Andes
We enjoyed ourselves as we watched about a hundred sheep and numerous pigs walk past us with their respective care takers (one of whom was a four year old girl, which is exactly what we did when we were 4). As we kept walking ww saw ominous clouds moving into our valley, until suddenly it started drizzling, which gave way to rain, which turned into heavy rain with some hail, and finally into sleet/real hail. Sweet. Thus we were stuck in the middle of the day in a storm, in the middle of nowhere. It was obvious that setting up camp would have resulted in us and all our belongings being completely soaked, so instead we went towards a hut that we saw in the distance. Luckily there was nobody so we spent the night there, quite warm (though wet) as the hail piled into snow at the top of mountains. The next morning we gathered our stuff from the hay of the hut and got going. A long, cumbersome cllimb followed to the top of the mountains, and when we got to the top we realized that we couldn't match our map with what we saw (yes, we had a compass). Eventually we thought we figured it out and headed towards what we thought would be Ingapirca
. Pretty wrong. We came out at a completely different town, which was actually called Community Launa (we think). From there people told us how to get back to Ingapirca, but we were in no mood of climbing 1000 meters for 3 hours again as we had already been hiking for 8 hours that day, so instead we took a car towards the town of Chunchi (at the highway) slightly in shame, but also happy. The way down to this community was amazing, as we got to see the Andean peaks, the sun through the fog, rainbows, yellow and pink clouds, the sunset shining through the mountains and clouds in almost every shape. It was great and it was dumb... much like our trip.