So many people have asked me about my travel photos, I thought I better start putting some up on the blog. Even though its kind of starting in the middle of the trip, I am going to start with a bit about Machu Pichu. One of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Pichu was built by the Incas and its purpose depends on who you ask. Some say a temple, some say a school of medicine. Whatever the real answer, its a spectacular place set high up in the mountains of Peru.
To get to Machu Pichu you have two options of transport. You can catch the train from town and enjoy a leisurely hike to the top of the ruins. Or you can do what we did and hike over a couple of mountains for four days to get there. So you strap your backpack and camera to your back ( or, as in my case, hand it over to craig and get him to carry it. ) and head off. At about the middle of the first day, I sat on the ground and said " Nope. No way. I can not do this. " The altidude is the hardest thing. Five steps and you are out of breath. It took some serious encouragement from Craig and the crew to get me to keep going.
By day two I had found inner strength I didnt know I had. I was not going to let a huge mountain beat me. I walked, I stopped, I walked and stopped some more. Day two of that trek was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The achievement I felt when I reached the top of that mountain... It was so close, you could see the top, but getting there... Take ten steps, stop for a rest. While you were resting other trekkers from all over the world were going past, offering words of encouragement. In five minutes you would return the favour as they stopped and you struggled past. The last five hundred metres were the hardest. You could see the top of the pass. You could hear people yelling encouragement. But you were so tired, your feet felt like lead and your lungs refused to work. Sucking in a breath, you would take ten more steps, and be that much closer. But still so far away.Working my way to the pass you can see at the top.
The view from the top was spectacular. The feeling of achievement was amazing. I made my own personal little rock pile. An offering to the gods for safe passage. My personal little monument to inner strength. Every obstacle in my life from now on would be measured my that climb. The tears flowed as I hugged Craig. I could not believe I had done it. He stayed by my side the whole way. Silent in strength, always there, but letting me do it at my own pace. Holding my hand when I nearly fell over, holding my camera when I just couldnt carry it, handing me water when I needed a drink. Without him by my side, I could not have done what I did. ( And strangely enough the tears are here as i type this! )
And that was only day two. Day three was tough, but after the day before you knew that you could do it. I fell a few times, I was the slowest in the group, and I was completely in awe of the porters on the trail. These men would run past you with 25 kilos on their back. Wearing sandals. And they would have you tent and a damn good meal ready for you by the time you dragged your sore and aching body into camp.
Day Four was an early start, up at four, starting the trek in the dark with your head lamp on to make it to the Sun Gate and see the sun rise over the mountain. Then still more trekking to reach the actual ruins themselves. We did a tour with our guide and the three other fantastic people who did the trek with us. I couldnt have asked for better people to travel with, not just on the trek but on the whole trip.
So we finally reached Machu Pichu. Totally exhausted and dirty. No showers for four days, unwashed hair, wearing sneakers and a t-shirt that said "Little Miss Sunshine". With a blister the size of Spain on my foot. Craig suggested we go up the stairs to have another look at the Temple of the Sun. I couldnt believe he had even suggested it. I could barely stand. I wanted some shade and some chocolate and to take my shoes off. I wanted to lie down somewhere warm and sleep for three days. But he started off up the steps, and so I followed, using a lot of swear words that were directed at the huge amount of steps I had encountered over the last couple of days. Every step was agony.
At the top, at the Temple of the Sun, Craig proposed. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He was shaking like a leaf. I hugged him tight, and he asked if I had said yes. Did he think I was going to say no? It was the perfect end to an amazing journey, one that made me stronger in so many ways. Made me realise that so many things in life in are possible, and even more so with someone like Craig by my side to hold my hand and say "You can do it."
So while these photos are far from award winning, and taken on my little crappy snappy as I havent even processed the files from my camera yet, they have the most meaning to me. This shot of me and Craig was taken by a random stranger for us just after he proposed. My camera bag on the wall, those amazing mountaings in the background, my unwashed hair and the expression on my face that I cant quite read... But a photo and a memory definately worth having.