Climb of Death, a Diary
Day One: Theme – It does not matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop. Right?

Totally excited! Woke up, packed all things, did a bit of readjustment for the approxiamately 3 kilos of stuff Tash, Dana and I have to split between a porter, after our laundry was somehow lost in the hostel and we are now hiking with clothes that have been dirty for weeks, making us officially the smelliest people on the trail that havent even started the trail, and we were picked up by a nice bus and an even nicer looking group of poeple, guides and porters at 5am!

Our group consists of three austrailian girls, who turn out to be mostly nice, but more snotty and anti-american (you wouldn´t believe the kind of things we have to defend against…its always ¨¨you americans with your cheetos¨¨ at which I find myself compelled to stand up and give a speech proclaiming the benefits of junk food or whatever, or ¨¨you americans like to marry so young, you believe in love too quickly, etc.¨¨ at which we all secretly think ¨¨ well all you euros are so bitter and cynical, while the rest of the world is sold into brothels or something horrible. so what if im an optimist?¨¨ anyway.) Two lovely British ladies learning Spanish that work in TV documentary work and are very sweet, one random 51 year old male judge, former family lawyer from Norway with a prominent gap in his front teeth named Perr, an avid photographer, capturing all sorts of lovely moments for all us girls, which would be great and not so creepy if he was more forthcoming about actually sharing the photos with us….and then four amazing Ozzies of Asian persuasion, the kind of girls who have been best friends forever but make you feel like you´ve been best friends with them, too, immediately hugging you, smearing you with their bug spray, and sharing their endless supply of lollies with you, tackling you on top of the sleeping bags for no good reason, telling you that yes, you can and you WILL make it up the next hill. lovely girls! Am so glad that group does not consist of any hot guys whatsoever, therefore will not be self conscious of not showering for four days, eschewing makeup and hairbrushing, or have to feel like the ugly fat slow girl in the group, struggling to survive. at least, not in front of boys.

Feel very confident that I have to be in better shape than at least a few of these people, statistically speaking, normal bell curves, etc., as I have been trekking all through Central America in Tevas for the last four months already, and am ready to face the mountains and sacred valleys! Lovely breakfast at Ollyamsomething and even a passport stamp! Hooray!

Start hiking, slightly breathless, must be the altitude, a mere altitude ajdjustment, burros loading things and pooping all over the trail, porters carrying 50 lbs of gear on back running past me in huarache sandals like flying ninjas…surely I can compete with my high tech Gore Tex hiking boots with ankle support and fancy REI pants that zip off ever so sexily below the knee when I get hot??

Wrong. am constantly passed by men shorter than five feet, sprinting by with tables, chairs, cans of kerosene on their backs in rucksacks. Feel very slow. Wish for ipod, i would walk much faster listening to Britney Spears, I am sure.

Two hours in am I am struuuuuggling…my walking stick is my savior. We stop at a shack- can´t believe people live here? What is your address, 104b Incan Trail? – decide backpack is way too heavy and donate pants, shirts, and some toiletries to a family living there. Hope for free candy in return from their stash….nope…charged exhorbitant amount for Twix. Oh well. Good motivation for the hills.

Backpack lighter! better, but upon first major hill am certain to die, lungs cannot contain themselves inside chest and cannot catch breath, constantly coughing and wheezing (still not over nasty cold flu like virus from last week….ahhhh), knees quake, sweat drips and am physical and emotional mess.

Somehow make it to campsite, beautifully set on mountain side, beautiful clouds, cold as anything, knuckles beginning to crack open from cold. Offically last one in group (someone has to be!) and am greeted by applause by porters and campers. Nightmare has become reality. Camp is next to donkeys that begin to bray at four in the morning. We sleep all four girls in one tent made for two to conserve warmth, and pee beside the camp site to prevent walking all the way to the hole in the ground pee site that is called a toilet, that smells like centuries of stacked manure. Lovely

In good news, meals are fantastic! Can´t believe the cooks and porters manage to carry our gear and all this lovely food. Something like five courses, including dessert! May not lose weight as planned. Have learned new card game from Ozzies and love life! Early wakeup tomorrow but am confident! Asleep by nine pm. This is amazing.