Peru: Day 11

Picking back up from yesterday, I’ve decided to just keep the life changing emotional feelings stuff to myself. 🙂 Let’s just say I will never forget it. 

Anyway, I will finish out the rest of the day. Picking back up with the story, my only option was the mule. Since I’m alone, they wouldn’t take one from the Oasis up so they brought one down to pick me up which would not get there until around 4. Didn’t feel good about it, but it came down to my only option. 

Also, the springs are not available to the public, you have to stay at one of the hostels in order to visit them from what I could gather in Spanish. So, I sat at the hostel who arranged the mule for me writing my blog and enjoying the sound of the springs and just being in nature. 

I asked about paying more money for a mule from there so it would only go one way, but I believe she was saying they’re accustomed to it and it’s okay. Truthfully that didn’t make me feel any better because that’s what people say about birds as pets, and its just not true. 

Anyway, I’m thankful for this mule and that I worked this out because my body couldn’t have gone back up the mountain yesterday. I was exhausted. So for those visiting Colca Canyon and wanting to see the oasis, stay there overnight and head to the next destination in the morning. I think the trek back up would probably be doable for me in maybe 3-4 hours but certainly not the same day as trekking down. This is like 100 times more difficult than Observation Point in Zion was. 

Unfortunately the reward yesterday in terms of the destination was not quite what I thought it would be, unless I majorly missed something (which I could have). I didn’t have any access to the Interwebs, only could rely on what the locals said so who knows. But the old lore holds true… that it’s all about the journey. It was a treacherous downhill climb and I’m glad I did it, and there were beautiful views of the canyon all the way down. 

Sidebar… The three ladies I met at the top… Delice (UK), Amanda Marie (Canada), and Yvonne (Ireland)… had all quit their corporate jobs to travel the world. They had actually met each other along the way and now all three had been together a month with lots of future plans. They reinspired me and we exchanged info in case I were to ever end up in that situation… 

The mules finally came and there were about five or six that all came trotting down from the mountain looking happy, which made me feel better. I would ride one back up with the guide (or as I’ll call him handler) on another. 

I hopped on and we were off. This was my selfie at the beginning before I realized it would take every ounce of strength I had, mentally and physically to get this accomplished. 

The reality was that it was the most terrifying and treacherous experience of my life so far. I have never been so scared. Started out on Roka and he was okay but very hard on my knees in the stirrups and super scary. Roka seemed to get tired (or as I learned later I think the handler maybe wanted to test the younger horse with me) so I got on that one. He didn’t want to move much and got lots of yelling and whipping from the handler. 😦 He did move and at one point turned to go over the side of the mountain. I freaked and ended up falling halfway off, holding on for dear life, the handler yelling and the horse stopped. I managed to get back on, at this point in so much pain, and the handler started yelling at me. Now, he didn’t know any English, but from what I could gather, the fact that I freaked and got nervous was the problem and I couldn’t do that. He was NOT happy with me. I told him I understood, I shut up, apologized, and told myself that from that point on, I would have to trust the horse. 

Anyway, we swapped horses again and I was back with Roka who I rode for the rest of the trip. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Straight uphill now, Roka even slipping at one point, and taking the very outside track around each drop-off to avoid the rocks in the middle. Several stops to wait for the handler and horse behind us and at those points Roka would be standing literally on the edge. I took deep breaths and tried to remain calm so that Roka didn’t have any idea how scared shitless I was. 

The other thing was the amount of whipping the other mule was getting. Made me sad, ugh. But the handler was walking almost all of it, holding onto the tail of the other horse to pull him up, which was nuts. We stopped some along the way so he could rest. It started raining pretty hard and we kept at it. I felt for the handler at this point and considered what a different world this was that they lived every day. 

Anyway, long story long, we finally made it and I couldn’t believe it. Getting off of Roka was so hard because at this point I was in so much pain, not just my knees but my back and neck and butt. I gave the handler a very large tip, hugged Roka and walked back to my hotel. 

It was an experience I’ll never forget. Then I met David and Nancy from Vancouver, who saw me leaving in the morning. They asked if I made it and I briefly told them the story. They had walked the rim and I told them that was a great call. Such a nice couple… We talked for a bit and then they left. I had alpaca for dinner and then headed to bed for 6am wake up call for the bus (buses) to Puno. 

Craziest experience ever. Glad it’s over. 

#missionaccomplished #thankfulforlife

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