I’ve put off writing this post for weeks. Months. Because, for the life of me, I can’t remember the stories I wanted to share from our time on the Salkantay trail; the ones I thought, if documented and sewn together properly, would make for an entertaining (and lighthearted) narrative about our time in the Andes. But because the last thing I wanted to do was journal on my iPhone for an hour each night of the trek, I convinced myself that if I spent just a few moments taking detailed notes at the end of each day, everything would rush back to me when we got home. But it didn’t. Because once we got back we were barely unpacked before taking off for India. And once we got home from India, I spent the next two months trying to digest everything that happened there while also tending to a husband who developed a pretty gnarly case of dengue fever.
Where’d we leave off?
That long, local bus ride from Puno. If you haven’t read the post about Lake Titicaca, let me fill you in: we were pressed for time. Like, really pressed for time. But we were also hell bent on seeing both sides of the lake despite the fact that it meant we’d only have a measly 14 hours to spend in Puno (over half of which were spent sleeping) and would likely miss the early-morning (and very convenient) tourist bus. Well, we did miss that bus. And everyone – from the owner of the hotel we stayed at to the agent at the bus terminal – tried talking us into waiting for the tourist bus the next morning (it makes fewer stops, is more comfortable, and is generally more safe for foreign travelers), but we were having none of it. We needed to be in Cusco by a certain time and, at that point, a local bus was our only option. So we bought our tickets and got on the damn bus, and spent the next 10 (or 11) hours packed like sardines in a vessel – without air conditioning – that smelled a little too much like week old bologna.
It feels like just yesterday we were on Lake Titicaca, the massive body of water sandwiched between Bolivia and Peru. We had originally planned on seeing only one of the two sides (and Thom was shooting for the Peruvian side), but after chatting with some friends who visited both, we were convinced we had to see the Bolivian side (and hike across Isla del Sol), too. Although we only had two nights to spare, we somehow managed to make the tight schedule work – which allowed for a mere 26 hours in Copacabana and even fewer in Puno (14!). Was it worth it? Absolutely. For you? It depends on how you like to travel.
It was 15 minutes into our second attempt at La Paz, when the cabin lost pressure, that I started thinking maaaybe the Universe didn’t want us anywhere near the world’s highest administrative capitol (the city has an elevation of 11,942 feet) (!). I remember grabbing for the oxygen mask – in a straight up panic – while looking at Thom like WTF. IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? It was. And somehow my husband of a mere two months managed to keep his cool and whip out his phone to get a picture of me losing mine (this is one of the reasons we work so well together, despite being total opposites: we balance each other out).
The pilot decided to make an emergency landing back in Santa Cruz, and I thought about saying fuck it and going to spend another night with our new friend, Chiquitín. But an hour later we were on a new plane and making our way to La Paz. And an hour and a half after that, we were walking off the plane and there were our bags and a nice guy holding a sign that read MR. CASSIDY.