Today was one hell of a day. Sam, the director, had this idea to have groups of students with their staff members walk from our town, Cangahua, down to the Hacienda Guachalá... a several-mile walk that, supposedly, was to be entirely downhill. The stipulation: we couldn´t use the road. We were one map short of the number of groups, and of course, I ended up with the short straw. Sam and myself served as our group´s map, and we decided to take the high road out of Cangahua to the top of the near mountain to ensure our continued downhill trek from then on. We also wanted to bring the students by the Inka watchtower we stumbled onto last year. We started out by finding a new archaeological site, a likely pre-Inka settlement with surface scatter of pottery sherds and obsidian and some possible terracing leading down to the river. About a hundred meters away, we found another small site with colonial pottery pieces and ceramic roof tiles.
We continued hiking along the ridge, around some farmland and an abandoned bullfight ring, through a small eucalyptus forest and found our first hiccup in the form of a huge gorge. Our gut decision was right, and we found the beginning of it and avoided falling down into it only to climb back up.
On the other side, we found more footpaths that led us to a small farm, where we introduced ourselves and verified that we were walking the right direction. They said yes, to follow the road up the hill. The road promptly ended at a sharp drop off. Unable to find a way out that didn´t involve backtracking a mile or so, we went down the side of the mountain in search of trails. After two false trails and having to slide down a patch of dirt on my butt that was too crumbly to walk on, we finally came across an old abandoned road. The road led us to another path, which took us down below the forest to face another mountain across a small river.
We noticed another of our groups across the gorge and called out to them to make sure that our path actually went somewhere, but they shouted back that it was washed out, but that there was a bridge at the bottom of the mountain to our left. We made our way down and found the bridge they described, held up by two logs, with a decent-sized hole at one end, and with a 20-30 foot drop before hitting the river. Left with no other choice, we crossed safely, documented the damn thing with photos to prove what we´d done, and moved on.
I´m sorry to leave you hanging like this, but dinner starts soon and I refuse to miss it. I´ll continue the story as soon as I can.
Hope all is well back at home.