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Jun. 19th, 2013 @ 11:02 pm Day 19 - Salkantay Trek (58km in)
Current Location: Santa Teresa
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Morning
My left big toe is purple.  Not sure what to do about it.  I don't know whether I should puncture it or leave it.  Other than that I have a heavily blistered fourth toe on my right foot, but otherwise there is no external sign of foot damage.  My legs are covered with recovering bites, mostly from the first day, but with reinforcements since.

Afternoon
The walk today was pleasant.  Only about 14km of undulation, we crossed the river and followed a different valley upstream.  The weather in the morning was nice, there were a load of wild strawberry plants to forage through and other interesting plants, including coffee, avocado and orchids.  There were also rivers to cross with waterfalls and cascades.  It was all jolly nice and sociable.

I felt good, but didn't feel comfortable walking with lots of people and we kept overlapping with other groups, so while I stayed at the front to start with to maximise wildlife encounters, I dropped further back each time I felt crowded.

There were a few stops too, particularly a nice rest stop with a pig, chickens and ducks wandering around.

After a few hours, it became clear that there was a decision point ahead: if we reached this point and the buses were there we'd take the bus, otherwise we'd have to walk to lunch along the road.  Fortunately the buses were there, but they had an unusual proposal.  And so I found myself climbing onto the roof rack, with my bag safely stowed in the minibus, with four other people and assorted luggage and I rode to the town on top.

In another stroke of fortune, we arrived at the lunch stop and sat at the table just as the rain started.

Lunch was basic, but the place had almost frozen beers.  We had a mixture of dishes: a mushroom ceviche, various salads, rice and so on.

We then boarded the bus again, properly this time, and rode to the campsite in Santa Teresa.

There's something perverse about camping in the middle of a town.  It just seems masochistic and inflexible, somehow, and largely pointless.  I have no problem with camping when there is no alternative accommodation available, but to do so in a place with a surfeit of buildings?.  Ridiculous!.

Still, we stood around wating to be told what was happening next.  Of course, when we finally found out, it was suddenly a rush again.  Anyway, this afternoon was probably what we'd all been dreaming about: we were going to a hot springs.

And so we prepared, got back in the bus, which took us to the hot springs.  We then paid a pre-determined price for the ticket, which seemed variable depending on who you were or which group you were with, changed into swimwear and then headed for the water.

Absolute bliss.  There were three pools, two cooler, one hot, with views of the sunlight moving across the mountains.  There was also a more concealed fall with unheated water from the mountain, which I popped under a few times.

The whole experience was just plain nice: washing away the accumulated grime and psychic distress of the past three days.  Ok, it couldn't wash away the scratches, bruises and chafing, but it certainly didn't exacerbate them.

And so we spent time paddling around, chatting gently and watching the light of the setting sun.

And so, we reached the end of our time, washed our hair with detergent in the outflow of the hot pools.  And then I dressed in soiled clothes, with the weight of the hiking boots on my feet, but refreshed and rested.

Evening
The campsite was full of people: it was the traditional campfire of the third night, people let their hair down, drank too much, danced badly to bad music and generally had a great time.  I watched from the sidelines, exhausted, and chatted to the other wall.

I am not looking forward to tomorrow.  I've agreed to go on the zip-lines, mainly as a way of reducing the walk, but I was still going to have to walk for a few hours and, due to a poor set of communications, it had now become clear that I would have to carry both packs, or pay the cooks to take one to Aguas Calientes.  The latter option seemed complex and prone to failure, so I decided to carry them, but I wasn't looking forward to the prospect.

Shorts and top still not dry.
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Mind-beam B