This one is about trekking the Inca Trail and coca (of all things).
First things first. Before heading out to even higher elevations we had to get to Cusco -
Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, once capital of the Inca empire, and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. It's the gateway to further Inca sites including the Inca Trail, a multiday trek that ends at the mountain citadel of Machu Picchu.
As soon as you step onto the streets of Cusco, you will find coca everything, from the leaves, to the tea, to candy...you name it!
*The coca-leaf is a local folk remedy for altitude sickness or “soroche” as it’s called in Peru.
Diarrhea or constipation
NOTE: That it is legal to bring home the coca tea bags or coca candies, but NOT the coca leaves.
*At the time of my travels. I would definitely research to confirm that this info is current whenever I might go again!
I had been feeling fine regardless. But I still drank it - just in case!
After a couple of days enjoying and touring Cusco, it was time to head out on a 37-mile van ride to Ollantaytambo and the Inca Trailhead.
All in all on this day we would be climbing approximately 3,600' or about 360 floors.
So of course I found myself a the gym each and everyday on the stair master in preparation.
But on day 2 all that I had in my mind were all of these "steps" that I read about, and how it was like climbing stairs for 6 hours straight!!!
No, I did not and will not ever go to the gym and spend 6 hours on the stair master! And never while carrying a big heavy backpack strapped to my body.
So I had told myself that on day 2 that if I was having any trouble that I would chew on these coca leaves - which I hadn't done before. I figured it would hopefully be a BOOST.
Around each corner, I would peer and find no steps. Hmm - I didn't understand.
Finally at lunch time, after already hiking for hours I noticed that I could see the pass!
I could even make out the little specks of other trekkers. I asked our guide about the climb and the steps, and it had been explained to me that I was "climbing all day" and that we were almost there! SAY WHAT?!?!
I had stressed over nothing.
Now I figured was as good a time as any to try chewing on some coca leaves - since I really wouldn't have any other excuses at any other time on our trip. They were just a bunch of dried leaves that go in the back of your mouth, between teeth and your gums. You suck on them and them spit them out.
And I still didn't feel like they did anything for me. I'm sure that each of us react differently and that it probably does even help at times. I just hadn't noticed any difference.
It was really all that it is claimed to be, and so much more when you arrive via the Inca Trail!
Kudos to us and to all the other trekkers out there!
Always searching for my next adventure,