We drove to Santa Maria and began our hike on a trail that the Incas had used to travel between the Amazon and Cusco. The trail followed one of the steepest hillsides I have ever seen. I couldn't believe that people could manage to build a trail on a mountain like this today, let alone several hundred years ago. The trail ascended sharply for the first few miles and we certainly earned our lunch! After the climb, we broke for lunch at a woman's house. She gave us a shady place to sit and we bought all of her cold beverages. I have never been so happy to see Gatorade in my life. She had a handful of month-old puppies that ended up with half of my portion of rice. They looked sad and underfed and reminded me of the dogs I saw when I lived in Guatemala. I can't believe I didn't end up hiking out with one of them.... We continued hiking along this amazing trail. At one point, there was a viewpoint that showed all of what we had been hiking. Still, couldn't believe that there was a trail in a place like this. The Forest Service does NOT build trails like this in the states. Much too dangerous. We started descending and ended up at the van where our driver/savior, Carlos, was waiting. We piled into the van, exhausted, and headed to Santa Teresa. The group camped at a small ecolodge outside of Santa Teresa, where we were able to relax and enjoy some more of the national beverage, the Pisco Sour.
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