The next morning, I stuffed myself with whatever food, coca tea, coffee that I can get my hands on. Seemed like no one had a great night of sleep, reportedly hearing horses going crazy at night and such. However, I had a great night of sleep, possibly due to the pounding headache that came with the altitude sickness or that my body was completely exhausted. Anyhow, I woke up invigorated, and the best part is that the cold had reduced the swelling in my knee. With the brace that I brought with me, I was able to move around pain free.
Once we started the 4 hour long climb to the 4600m Abra Salkantay, my heart was beating at a ridiculous pace again. I chewed coca leaf after coca leaf hoping it will alleviate the problems. I think in the end determination won, I didn’t sat down once and kept pace with everyone else. I also wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of others who motivated me to keep going. After the first rest stop, the next two hours were even more difficult, but I somehow made it with the help of Fabian and Rahel who stayed back helping me. They lied and told me there is only 5 mins to go every time I asked how long till we are on top, and it kept me pushing somehow. I’m not a big fan of uncertainty. Now knowing the end of a difficult path often leads the walker to give up. I’m very glad I didn’t and no one ended up taking the horse ride.
5 minutes into picture taking at Abra Salkantay, the altitude sickness was starting to destroy me. All I wanted was to sleep. I felt tired and exhausted, not a muscle in my body wants to start moving. On top of it all, it was very cold with a chilly wind that pierces through my jacket. However, Abra Salkantay is very beautiful, one can see the distant cloud and glacier behind many beautifully placed prayer stones to Apu, the mountain god of Salkantay.
Next two hours is spent going down to the camp site. Alas, downhill is supposed to be easy, but it wasn’t for me. I used all my concentration and energy for the ascend that I had no energy for the long descend in my sickened state. Gordito once again, I finished last behind pace to reach the campsite.
I knew exactly what I needed then, a nap, so I skipped lunch and took a huge nap. It helped me in ways unimaginable, because I sprinted through the last hike of the day and ended up the first at the camp. That was the end of my gordito and altitude sick days.
Since I for once arrived early, Fabian, Carlos, Rahel and I went down to the river to shower. Despite getting my legs ravaged by sandflies, the river shower was much needed and invigorating. You can pay for a hot shower at the campsite, but camping and hot shower don’t really go together, I rather save the money for beer instead.
Everyone bought beer, but I got something better, I brought some Colombian aguardiente to keep everyone warm.
That night after dinner, everyone sipped Colombian rum and played table games. Somehow Carlos got drunk and was making mistakes in the game in the most comical way. Then we went to sleep feeling quite grateful.
Also, luckily, there was TV coverage, some of us watched Brasil lose to Paraguay in penalty kick because of a Thiago Silva handball earlier in the game. Surprised me a bit the new goalkeeper can possibly be worse than Julio Caesar.