A slow ride up through some smaller Inca sites until dusk in Ollantaytambo (via the Inca ampitheatre). The train being craziliy expensive (and in any case somehow too easy). The last meal for a while. Another incredibly bumpy, precipitous taxi ride to Santa Teresa in rain where we spend the night.
Waking at six. San Pedro and a cigarette for breakfast. Hot water from a remote first aid tent. Jordi mixing. Viscous green. A cartwheel on a trainline. Walking. Repetition, sweat and nausea. The wood slats being ou---t—ofs-y—n------c with my stride. Throwing up before a bridge, a little weightless, clean. Feeling better. The sun suddenly hot, present. Jordi, Thai and I bathing in pools around rapids – lots of butterflies, lucid and slowing down a little. Guarda and Lara waiting ahead on the platform giggling like little girls, covered in mosquito bites.
The incredible sound of white water, blocks of sound. Blocks of rock rising thousands of meters out of jungle. Valley gorge. Something about a proper relation to nature. Continuous awe.
Agua Caliente…utter disorientation. Jungle china town. The seeming plastic tin pot temporality of virtually all human constructions (endeavour?). Rain in mild air. Head back on rucksack, to find the middle of something. Turning to the river over and over, second wave, thinking to consolidate, rain on skin, ice cream – a worthy human endeavour.
Strange restaurant table, suddenly enclosed. Food, eyeing bags, others. Guide police lunching with tourists, ‘Inca laughter’. The wildly vacillating turns of my appetite. Fish proving good. Beer too. Ugliest town square I’ve ever seen (fascinating for it). Guada and Lara reprimanded by officials for mounting and embracing its cheap Inca statue. The eponymous hot baths full of fat tourists in brown water. Sickened some. Turning around, tickets in hand. A red hotel room with synthetic sheets. Skin. Sleep. Later, a lasagne, strung out Shithead – losing a lot.
Morning, bright. Out on the street. Late start. Sat facing tracks. Guarda and Jordi already on the cactus. Not holding it down. Climbing steps – an inordinate number. Everything smelling of San Pedro. Ritz crisps. Fruit in a bag. Utter fatigue. Vomiting (again). Relief (again). Jordi’s multicoloured fatigue, green/red under yellow hat. Lara’s bitten up legs. Folk descending. ‘Quince minutos’ they said, every one.
At the top. Parking lot. Plastic ticket office, Americans, cars, buses…a glass of water that costs two meals. The potential that it’s a horrible mistake. Then through the gate and just staring…every direction an unmitigated visual pleasure, a fact in a natural wonder, an intervention so eccentric and perfect it defies belief. The inability somehow to believe it, comprehend it visually. Reframed, built, crazily built.
Two equadorians chasing the girls, but not quite hassling. Official whistles and cigarettes. All kinds of tourist. Its hot. We have no water – just warm yogurt and a mango. Try not to think about it. Climbing again suddenly easier, weight lifted, in mind, passing energy, mood, desire, laughter…charged silent looking. I didn’t think about it. On the steps - the saint who hands me a full bottle of water.
Coming down. Descending finally, the first time all day, in both senses - as if to be synchronised as such. The evening light bathing the whole place in new angles and dimensions. Light hitting rock on a grand scale. More whistles. Four reluctantly ushered out.
Fatigue. An expensive bus I dislike. Restaurant with kindly owner. Pizza. Coca Cola - the best drink ever (for a moment). A better hostel. Hot shower. In the plaza with Guarda later. Warm evening. Gentle, straight, philosophical. Some sweets in my pocket.
A slow, bumpy ride back in Cuzco in a very hot van. Realising how dangerous it was in daylight. Quickly becoming bored of the two fractionally differing locations for my feet. Later. Half hearted clubbing. Torrential rain on the last day. The market and the kindly juice lady for the last time. Saying goodbye to Lara and Guarda. Missing them all – Manuel, Jordi, Joakim, Lara, Guarda.
 I’m sorry vomiting features so profusely in this and other accounts but it is only out of a desire for a kind of veracity and, it is fair to say that vomiting has been, if not (mercifully) a defining feature, then certainly something of a recurring theme.