Danke Sehr

Entry #59   •   12th of October, 2015 Automatically translated entry.
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Whether we have a good or a bad pair of shoes, hiking the Choquequirao is not supposed to be an easy trek (at least for a non-expert like me). However, with a bad pair of shoes, the experience can become quite tedious. I speak from experience, but fortunately at half of the trip are two German guys helped me.

The Choquequirao is an archaeological site that is frequently compared to Machu Picchu. To reduce the congestion there, it is planed to build a cable car (es) and thereby to deviate a part of the tourists to the other site, currently only accessible after two days of walking.

I did the trek with two other cyclists, Camille (France) and André (Germany). I was more or less following André since Puerto Colombia (as you can cleverly guess, it is situated in Colombia - but sometimes the names are misleading, for instance, Kansas City is in Missouri) without being able to catch him up because he was also travelling by bus. I met Camille at the exit of Abancay, at two days of bicycle from Cusco. Both like to do hiking (especially Camille who came in South America expressly for that). André wanted to do the Ausangate trek and Camille, that of Choquequirao. We finally decide to do the later.

Since the hike seemed to be quite difficult, we (André and I) went to a shop to rent better equipement: bagpack, hiking poles and what will be crucial in this story, a pair of boots. I had used my bike shoes to climb to the Lagoon 69 (es) in Peru. However, even removing metal shims, my bike shoes remained cycling shoes not hiking shoes... Then, I was thinking it was worthing to rent hiking boots.

Here was the problem, it was not hiking boots, but construction boots with steel cap. After having walked a few blocks in the city, I realize that was a bit uncomfortobale, but I was (wrongly but really wrongly) thinking that it would not be too inconvenient for hiking. In fact, as long I was on flat or uphill slope, it was more or less ok. However, when I went down, my toes where where crushed in very painful way into the metal tip of the shoes.

Camille, myself and André in the town of Cachora at the entrance of the Choquequirao trail . On the left picture, I wear the (in)famous boots that caused me so much trouble...

After a while, I tried to walk backwardly, which relieved me a little, but for obvious reasons was not very convenient and sometimes even dangerous. I tried to walk barefoot, but since I'm not used to it, it was not really working. I cut out a part of my sleeping pad to build sandals, but again, with a relative success ... I asked every person I met if they had some things to lend , to rent or to sell but the local people had nothing in my size and foreigners did not bring second pair of shoes for the trip. Camille waited for me all this time. It's true that I had the tent, but it was nice of part to wait (hence this entry should be called also merci!). When we reach our first camp site fmy feet were full of blisters. I tried to stuff the tip of the shoes with the part that I cut from my sleeping pad. This has alleviated some of the pain the next day but nothing miraculous. I felt a little silly, I paid to have shoes of lower quality than those I had previously... There's an old Chinese proverb that saying there is sometimes some idiots who raise a stone from the ground only to drop it after on the foot...

As can be seen, the slope that leads to the Apurimac River is pretty steep (we crossed it two times, to go to the Choquequirao and to come back).

On the second day, a little before the sunset, I met Ralph and his girlfriend Sarah. This surprised me a little bit, but Ralph started talking to me in French about my shoes problems (Camille had informed him before). It was a strange coincidence, but Ralph and Sarah were also travelling by bicycle. They had left them at the village at the entrance of the trail. As they did not have backpacks (just panniers), they had to hire the services of a muleteer and a donkey to carry their equipment. This allowed them to carry more, including a second pair of shoes! Ralph was willing to lend me, only he knew its size by European standards and me, mine by North American standards (their equipment was in the village 45 minutes walk, so I could not not try it). After comparing our feet, we came to the conclusion that the should fit like a glove!

Many hikers use donkeys to transport their equipment. I guess release me from my burden would have relieved me a little feet...

The base camp of Choquequirao was 25 minutes from our location. So I decided to go to camp, leaved my equipment and hike back witout all my gears (but in the dark - which was normally prohibited). André lent me his shoes for the round trip. In the village, I did not find by myself where my saviours. Sarah came out by chance at the moment where I was resigned to come back to the camp without my precious booty. Without these shoes, I think I would have been unable to return (the return also took two days). I do not know what I would have done. Even better shod, I was slower than my two hiking mates, but I guess if I had wanted, I could have smacked three times the shoes to find myself at the end of the trail!

Finally, here are some pictures of Choquequirao (I will publish some others in the following entry). Yes I know, my clothes are now too large.

Thank you André and Ralph for your help!

Useless comment to send: Danke sehr that is not hoch deutsch – Anabel Chui-Chui.