We thanked the wonderful straw hatted lady for bringing our supplies up the mountain and saving us from scavenging through trashcans to find half empty water bottles. Funny, how a lack of water makes your mind believe that the yellow color in a faded piece of plastic is really just Mountain Dew instead of urine.
After setting up camp, our guide convinced us to use the last few hours of daylight exploring the plateau, so we set off south toward Laguna Negra. He pointed out rock formations along the way in the shapes of frogs, monkeys, seals, condors, sphinx, naked ladies…sorry, at 13,000 feet and deliriously dehydrated,
everything looked like naked ladies to me. By now, my wife was comparing me to Seann William Scott’s character in the movie, Role Model; boobs were everywhere!
Just before dusk, we found ourselves in front of the infamous Inferno. I looked down into the sinister gap between the two gigantic rocks and saw only danger. Eduardo told us a tale about a girl who jumped down in between the rocks to take a photo only to have her cell phone catapulted out of her hand by “the wind” and tossed down into the abyss below. When he asked if we wanted our photo taken in the crevice, I replied, “Photoshop.”
That night as Eduardo built a fire, we all sat down and enjoyed a bottle of cheap wine I’d
bought earlier in the day. As the stars filled the sky and the temperature dropped, we soon realized that our guide had no intentions of cooking a warm delicious dinner as noted in the travel brochure. When I asked, he innocently replied, “No one told me.”
A funny thing happens to you at 13,000 feet in the air. You don’t feel hungry. The human body seems to shut down all sensory nerve functions related to hunger and bowel movements. We shared a few crackers and enjoyed the pitch-black starlit sky before us. While the Milky Way swirled through the constellations above and the Southern Cross glowed like a beacon guiding us into another galaxy, I realized that I was viewing something few people had ever seen: Mother Nature, untouched and unleashed.
I recalled a story about a group of adventurers who’d camped at Markawsi a few years earlier. A falling star had jetted across the sky only to stop midway in the air. It hovered for a moment and then reversed course back in the direction that it originated from. Some say it was a space ship. Others say it was too much wine. I say it was the Gods talking to us from above, reminding us that we are just human and so miniscule in the whole scheme of life.
As the campfire died out, Eduardo told us another story about a Big Foot creature that apparently lived on top of the mountain. He said he’d seen its shadow one night as he took a leak on the far side of the campgrounds. I knew that bones of giants had been found in this area of Peru dating back thousands of years but was pretty sure that nothing had been seen in centuries.
The stray dog we’d adopted earlier that day returned as we set off to bed. I’d given it some water and left over food earlier solidifying our bond of friendship. As we bundled down for the night, dusty, cold and sleeping on an unforgiving hard rock surface, I turned to my wife and said, “Isn’t this better than the Sandals Resort?” She unexpectedly replied, “Yes.”
About 2:00 in the morning, the dog took off barking chasing something lingering around our campsite in the dark. A half hour later, it ran off barking again. This became the pattern for the next few hours as images of Big Foot danced in between the different stages of parasomnia. With with one eye open, I whispered to my wife, “I’m sorry for bringing you here. We could be sipping on Margaritas right now next to the beach somewhere.” She yawned and said, “Margaritas are for pussies.”