09 July 2008

Finishing the hike, and addressing the call for photos.

I left you having crossed a perilous bridge in our search for a path that hadn't been washed out. Once safely across, our group began following a trail up the mountain toward a fortress that had been excavated a few years ago. This was one of the relatively few non-Inka fortress found in the area, called Pucaracito. We made our way up to the fortress, saw the thrice-reinforced defencive walls on the outside of it, and then the group split. Two of the students were tired and one of them had a crush on one of the tired girls [they're so going to hook up], so they and Sam walked down to the road and took a bus the rest of the way to the Hacienda. I knew we were fairly close, so I offered to guide the rest of my students the rest of the way, and they agreed.

We walked along the old road that ran along the side of the fortress until it ended at another unexpected cliff, and I changed our course to follow the descending ridge of the mountain. We walked through what used to be an agricultural field, an area of wildflowers, and a grove of nicely spread eucalyptus trees until we found another path leading down to the valley below.

This path grew narrower and narrower as we entered a more and more tropical atmosphere, walking under more types of trees than the evergreen and eucalyptus that had dominated the hike before, ferns growing along the side of the path, and insects buzzing around us. As we approached the river we had so carefully crossed before, we entered a tiny village where the only road was less than three feet wide and bounded on both sides by six-foot mud walls. Dogs sensed our presence and lept on top of the walls to defend their fields from our grubby hands, and we followed the road down to a small bridge put together haphazardly with a pair of logs and some irregularly cut pieces of plywood.

On the other side, we went through another 25 yards of Amazonian wilderness and into a town with a road going through it wide enough for a car to drive on. We later found this town to be Guachala, the same one that lies next to the Hacienda which we'd been trying to reach for hours. Walking down the road we were greeted by a handful of chicks running through yards, pigs lounging under agave plants, a horse, several sheep, and a couple of playful children trying to find their way onto the roof of their house. Once we made it through the town, the road we were on connected to the main road up to Cangahua, and we followed it the 50 remaining yards to the driveway of the Hacienda.

As we walked into the courtyard, voice after voice rang out, "Micah's here!" "He made it!" I hadn't realized, but the hike had taken us just over 5 hours, meaning we averaged about 1 mph on our hike. One of the groups made it in 2.5 hours, but ours was by far the most interesting, having identified 2 new archaeological sites, visited one of the defensive fortresses in the area, crossed some really fun bridges and survived it all beyond all odds! Needless to say, everyone was totally jealous.

Unfortunately, though, I've been sick since that night when we watched 10,000 BC in the casa comunal. I'm convinced it's the ridiculous amounts of historical inaccuracies in that movie that has made me ill. Watching something like that with a group of archaeologists is absolutely the best way to watch it... unless you want to believe what you're seeing.

I'm trying to upload some photos, but you have no idea how frustratingly slow the internet connection is here. I've gotten 5 photos up on facebook in the last hour, it's horrible. And the internet cable keeps coming unplugged, which ruins everything. So here's the link to what I have gotten to work, don't be surprised if there are only 5 there. Yeesh. A facebook album!

But I suppose I should be getting back to work now, since I was only on the computer to download some anti-virus updates so I could do "actual work"... but again, I hope all is well with you, and I will write again when I can.

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