Walking the Inca-Bahn

Pack of Hounds
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We set out on the trail in one large pack. Every time someone would suddenly stop to blow their nose or take a picture, we'd all ram into each other; a giant fender bender on the Inca Trail. After about three collisions, I dropped to the back and, using the left side of my brain, tried to imagine that I wasn't walking behind 40 people, many of whom were simultaneously smoking cigarettes and hacking up their lungs. The small entourage from England found its way to the end of the pack too, since, in addition to cigarettes, they needed to stop and accost their livers with shots of rum every 15 minutes.

The inverse reciprocals of the English were the Swiss. Andres and Marcello could have reached Machu Picchu in about two hours left to their own devices. They were always followed closely by Michael, a German, who had by far the best personal hygiene in the group. He submerged himself naked twice per day in the freezing mountain streams we encountered.

At the end of the first day, the Swiss and German team reached the campsite first. The rest of us stumbled in over the next hour. The porters, each carrying the equivalent of a Winnebago on their backs, came jogging in about the same time (having started an hour behind us) and started setting up tents and cooking.

At dinner, we all met Raoul, a Spanish surgeon, who had memorized, in round numbers, 18 million dirty jokes. He spends most of the evening recounting every one of them. Or more specifically, since he couldn't speak English, Mayte, a Peruvian who had lived in Sweden for the last 15 years, translated the jokes into English. Or tried to.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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