Waking up on day two, wow, did I feel great…but then when it was time to sit up, everything hurt. My whole body was unbelievably sore. I really had no clue what I’d gotten myself into. What the heck was I thinking? I hadn’t been to a single gym since February. I’d never trekked before in my life. Everyone who comes to Arequipa treks the Colca Canyon though (or so I thought), so I really felt that I needed to cease the opportunity.
After a light breakfast of a flavorless crepe-thin pancakes and instant coffee, it was time to start our journey down into the oasis. I found a friend in the German girl, Sophie, who I was able to more or less keep pace with. The trek was much lighter. My shoes didn’t quite fill up with dust as much since the trails today were made up more of stones. In the beginning, our pace was a bit slow. Our guide showed us medicinal plants and delivered historical/cultural information as the Colca Canyon was home to many indigenous communities. The mother-son pair began to weaken, as the son had been refusing to eat throughout the trek. Lucky for me, this took the pressure off of having to keep up with the group.
There was some uphill trekking, but overall, we were still descending into the bottom of the canyon. After about four hours, we had arrived. My feet killed me. Wearing running shoes that were one size too big was an epic mistake. My big toes were completely covered in blisters that wrapped around my whole toe. I really could barely walk any longer with my sneakers on and my spirits were down.
I was so happy to see the oasis.
The soft grass carpeted the property and warranted barefeet. I could charge my phone again. Hooray! (My phone was dead all day, thus the lack of trekking photos…sorry 😦 .) All of us girls took a swim in the pool- which naturally exempted us from cold showers. *Judgement Free Zone*
This place was surreal and felt like a resort.
I still wondered: At what point would this all be worth it? When am I going to have that defining moment where it all clicks? Why go through all of this pain? I wasn’t getting the point…and there always is one. The canyon is beautiful, but I’d been to more beautiful places.
I enjoyed my evening with the girls from Spain. We had a bonfire, a beer, and great conversation. I confided in them that I didn’t trust our guide and felt very uncomfortable completing our ascendence tomorrow. The lingering question of whether or not I should take a mule out of the canyon tomorrow would not stop haunting me. Day 2 began to show our guide’s true colors. He lacked patience with the 8-year-old boy who struggled with the trek. He served food made with meat to a vegan in the group twice and lied to her face. He really was a jerk and lacked sensitivity and communication skills. I was slightly terrified- and I knew that if I ended up cliffside, I’d fall apart.
Feeling at ease after a nice fire under the stars with new friends, we had a meeting after dinner. Our guide quickly changed the atmosphere. We were to leave at 4:55AM and if anyone was late, he threatened to leave without them. I asked the guide if he thought I would be okay- which was a huge mistake. I had already decided that I would walk, as did the rest of the group. The guide told me to take a mule and that if I walk, we are not resting and must go at his pace.
I immediately panicked and protested, explaining that going at his pace would be impossible for me and I do not do this trek everyday like him. I left for my bungalow frustrated and that night I was so angry, I cried.
My friends did what they could to comfort me and promised to stay by my side. Now it was up to me to really get my head in the game and be confident that I was doing this. I had to believe in myself, because if I didn’t, I would be miserable.
This whole trip for me has been about doing what seems impossible. If I’m afraid, I push through the fear and I believe in myself. Once I believe, I can do anything. Believing and doing go hand in hand. This time I hit a major roadblock. I didn’t honestly believe, so I didn’t know if I could do.
That night, I did my best to sleep, but tossed and turned like crazy. My body was exhausted but my mind was invigorated. I couldn’t quiet my thoughts. Tomorrow was going to be a battle against my mind and body. Angry. Afraid. Nervous. Proud. Go to sleep.