Written by Neon
Fidgit and I were able to rest in Cusco. A big part of going into Cusco from Pisac for us was to get a backlog of work done so we could have fewer stressors in the last section. Pisac had been our original end goal, but arriving there a month ahead of schedule, we decided to push on after our ‘work break’ in Cusco.
The Sacred Valley spread before us as we walked out of Pisac and across corn fields of varying heights. The Peruvian farmers help each other plant crops and share their equipment, so each field was planted at a slightly different time. We passed field after field and through the small towns that dotted the valley floor. I was on a mission: to get to Aguas Calientes and see what Incan ruins I could along the way. I wasn’t terribly excited that our track swooped south after that, so I tried to stay positive, keeping my sights on the most northerly point we would reach.
Along the valley floor, we were able to see some amazing ruins, including salt mines that have been in use since Incan times, the Ollantaytambo ruins, and ruins spread along the valley along Rio Vilcamayo/Urubamba. These were some amazing highlights during an otherwise tension-filled section. Fidgit and I, even with a week’s “rest” in Cusco, were struggling. I no longer had the energy to work with another person in most capacities, and from how she reacted to many things I could only assume she didn’t either.
Fidgit and I are both stubborn women, and sometimes (read: nearly all times) we go well beyond the limits of what a normal human being would attempt in many capacities. We had been in new territory for me for a while, and I was dangerously close to toeing the line between my growth zone and my panic zone. As I edged along that line, I had to work with being physically and mentally exhausted, as well as working with another person and their struggles. Some days felt like pure drudgery, usually with an outburst thrown in for extra wear and tear.
On the other hand, I was SO grateful during our last section to have so many beautiful and wondrous things to see. We walked along the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes, got to pretend to be statues for the passing tourist trains, remember what it was like to be in a forest again, and re-learn that bugs exist after being in high/dry places for so long. As we descended into the forests after Aguas Calientes, I was so relieved to have an easy to follow track for a while. It was nice to be walking along and letting my mind go blank for a while. We visited some hot springs that had a pet parrot, then walked along the Salkantay Trail for a while, seeing the areas and prices set up purely for tourists.
As we neared the town of Yanama, Fidgit and I had some amazing vistas of nearby mountains. We stopped for lunch in Yanama, which has a small store with a little bit of everything a local would need. The town is situated at the end of a road, so we made our way back onto trail. The trail took us up along cliffs and passed some mine entrances (we never did find out what they were mining) to a pass and then we began an immediate descent into a jungly valley, dropping 1,000 meters before setting up camp for the night and another 1,000 meters to the river at the base of the valley the next morning.
We were nearing the ruins of Choquequirao, and I was inadvertently nearing my breaking point. As I awaited Fidgit at the bottom of the 2,000-meter descent, I was looking forward to telling her what I had seen and about the guides I had spoken to. When she did arrive, she breezed right past my seat. When I caught up to her along the valley floor, all she said was “GO!” so I went. I was frustrated and confused and hurt and beyond my capacity to continue these negative interactions, so when we met up once again for lunch, I told her as much. Fidgit took what I said to mean I was done with our journey entirely, so we ended up not walking together for a couple of days. I stopped by the Choquequirao ruins and was able to make my way into the next town.
In the town of Cachora, Fidgit and I met back up and discussed how we could move forward. We ended up walking to Abancay, where I stopped and she kept walking for a few more days. I was so mentally and physically exhausted by this point that I laid in bed for two days straight. It felt like all the effort I could muster to get up for food and to make sure I drank water over those days- I’ve never felt that depleted before.
I was relieved for my season to be over and to be able to get the rest I had so badly needed for too many months at this point. I was also quite useless and didn’t care, which surprised me- I can usually muster up some sort of motivation. After a few days, I ventured out again and was feeling better though still definitely ready to have some time off. I went out and got some ice cream and sunshine the next day as well, and then we headed back to Cusco to rest some more and wait for our friends and family to arrive for a planned Machu Picchu tour.