Saturday, February 27, 2016

Funny Moments on the Trek to Machu Picchu

My trekking group consisted of nine, generally very cool people who took the 4 day Inca Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu. In reality, your odds of coming up snake-eyes in this regard are low, as it's a self selecting group of adventurers, and of course, when you have me in the mix, it leads to some humorous moments along the road.

That's why you Itch, Dude-- Now, one thing Peru has in abundance, even more so in the lowlands, are mosquitoes. A number of us had bitten close to the rivers on our long hike, so I asked Peter, a 50 something Aussie who had just finished a 3 week stint in the jungles of Ecuador before joining our trek, about his experience with the malevolent pests in Ecuador.
"Stupid buggers are everywhere. I actually bought shirts and pants pre-covered in DEET (the active ingredient in mosquito repellent) and there was nothing I could do to keep them off me. They just kept coming in waves."
"Ouch, alright wow. Well, let's keep the door closed tonight."
"I'm one step ahead of you," replies Peter with a wink, "God I hate those mozzie buggers."
An hour later, I go to our room at the hostel, and there Peter is, all alone, both his hands ferociously raking each of his legs at the same time, an agitated look on his face, the price for his jungle excursion, except for, the DOOR IS WIDE OPEN.
Did you sleep outside the mosquito nets in the jungle Pete?
me and my trekking group- finally at Machu Picchu-
Aussie Pete is on the far left. 
Knifie Spoonie- So, I told you that story, in part to tell you this one.
I had an idea for a skit, referencing the original Crocodile Dundee when a mugger pulls out a small blade and Dundee looks whimsically at it, and responds, "You call that a knife?" then pulls out a much larger hunting knife and explains, "This is a knife."

So, having Pete, a real live Aussie, the skit was scripted as such:
I improv something about cutting through Peruvian food.
Peter: "You call that a knife? This is a knife!"
Only he's holding a spoon. I look at it stupefied for a moment.
Me: "That's not a knife, that's a spoon."
Peter: "All right all right you win, I see you've played knifie-spoonie before."
A beat.
Me: "I think I hear a dingo eating your baby."

So, you can see in the video below what it's like for a director to deal with an absolutely incompetent actor. I had a second camera filming Peter, but decided it wasn't worth editing in, as my reactions to his floundering are way more humorous.
Australia was once a British penal colony. Today's Aussies are descended from this gene pool. Is it random I'm mentioning this?
Video: the Knifie-Spoonie skit, leaps, and lands squarely on its head

USA! USA! USA!!!: Joined by another group on the same trek, we're playing drinking games on the second evening, lead by some fun loving Irish blokes, who, when it comes to alcohol, are in their element like dolphins are in water.
Each time it was my turn to drink, as the only American of both groups, they would all start chanting, "USA! USA! USA! USA!! ..." Playing along, I proudly raise my glass to the sky, acknowledging their chants, which I viewed as an act of submission to the country which reigns supreme. It was all meant in fun, and we had a great evening, though, the dolphins consumed a heck of a lot more water than I did.
The next morning before our zip-lining expedition, once again the Irish start their "USA!" chant. Again, I acknowledge! Watch below.

Blind Man Locates Toilet- The closest town to Machu Picchu is Aguas Calientes and we arrive there in the middle of multi-day power outage. Four men have gone to bed by candle light, slightly before midnight, in a windowless room with all alarms set for 4 AM hoping to be the first trekkers through Machu's gates at its 6 AM opening, in an effort to appease the more anxious members of our group, who believed there would be "no good photo opportunities" as more tourists flow in.
Plaza de Armas in Aguas Calientes
So, we're all asleep, and I awaken needing to use the bathroom. There is zero light in our room, it's pitch dark, I couldn't make out a shape if you placed it an inch in front of my face.
So, I rise from my bed, unsure as to which way to go. Immediately I trip over an unseen backpack (my own,) landing smack on the legs of one my dormant friends, who gurgles in his deep sleep as I push my way back upright, then take another step, rolling my ankle on a water bottle, bouncing on one leg in pain, trying not cry out and wake everyone.
A snail would leave me in the dust at the rate I'm going, ouch, just ran into a bed that was jutting out further than the others.
Now I'm doing the baby-step shuffle. My velocity is further hampered by forward momentum being converted into dance form in an attempt to prevent my bladder from exploding; bladder racing against blindness, and it's not looking good for me.
My toes offer me my best line of sight, communicating back to me the obstacles on the floor, a kinesthetic version of submarine sonar. Unfortunately sonar does not equate to GPS, I smack straight into a wall, the wrong wall; I've been going the wrong way.
Turn around, running out of time I advance ... slowly ... hopefully, in direction of the bathroom this time. I'm not going to disclose whether the submarine sprung a leak or not before making it to base.

The Blarney Stone - Finally having made it to Machu Picchu, we're walking to our next exhibit when someone notes how much of the ancient city is roped off.
"A couple was caught carving their initials into the stone, and the government felt like they had no choice but to make it harder for people to graffiti," explains our guide.
For whatever reason, I think of Sweden and the amazing civic responsibility ingrained in the culture. "Definitely not Swedish," I state out-loud.
One of my Irish USA chanting friends overhears me. "Probably American," he jabs.
My immediate gut feeling- 'he's probably right.' Still, I just could't let his comment go without a retort.
"Probably Irish."
"Definitely not Irish," he states honestly.
"Isn't it it Irish tradition to get drunk on your birthday and go throw up on the Blarney Stone with all your friends cheering you on?"
"No," he calmly replies.
"Too hard to get to all the way at the top of the castle?"
Just some fun banter along the trail.

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