Tuesday 11 August

(magnify) Andreas and Nelson

Both Rachel and I sleep soundly. Breakfast is at half past seven. We did not notice rain during the night but everything is a bit damp. Rachel is excited that we have cereal for breakfast, plus we have eggs, bread rolls, jam, and coffee.

It is cloudy today. We walk along a path that dates back to pre-Inka times, climbing for a while as we come into cloud forest. There is drizzle in the air. Bamboo lines the path and the trees are moss-draped, some hosting bromeliads, plants with pineapple-like leaves that survive by taking all of their nutrients from the air.

(magnify) Near La Pirquilla ruins

Presently we come to La Pirquilla ruins, though from the path I would not have noticed if Alicia had not pointed out that the tall moss-covered banks either side of us are in fact city walls constructed out of stone blocks.

With machete in hand, Nelson opens up a way for us off the path so that we can take a closer look. We hack our way through undergrowth up and down steep slopes, seeing may curved walls, which are the retaining walls of terraces that would have supported houses. None of the site has been cleared and we feel like real explorers.

(magnify) La Pirquilla ruins

It starts to rain as we approach our lunch stop and we do not stay for long. We seem to have been adopted by a small back dog, but we ignore his pleading to be fed as we eat the chicken and rice that Judy has prepared for us.

It is Alicia who first cracks and empties her leftovers onto the wet grass. Our new friend wolfs it down in moments and looks back at us expectantly. But it is time to move on.

The next couple of hours is a steep and very slippery descent through the cloud forest, with rain on and off. Presently we come into a village where Alicia goes off to buy a few provisions and we wait, watching children playing chicken with a bulldozer that is pushing around large mounds of earth to create a new road.

Our campsite for the night is in the back garden of Nelson’s house, a short distance up the other side of the valley. He has a spacious and flat garden where we pitch the tents.

(magnify) Chicken with a bulldozer
(magnify) Nelson with his children

Nelson is very proud to show off his two children, a 2–3 year old son and a little baby girl. The sky is clearing and it is less cold than last night.