Six Upper West Siders…

The Inca Trail Dream Team, in our "before" shot right before embarking on our 4-day journey
Team Upper West Side, in our “before” shot right before embarking on our 4-day journey

During our orientation the previous day, we had the pleasure of meeting the rest of our “Inca Trail Dream Team.”  Because I received the paperwork for the group when we registered, I knew we were in a group with 4 other people around our same age from the US.  Doug and I were both worried we’d end up with a teacher’s pet situation, or worse yet, a group of people either much slower or way more aggressive about finishing quickly than us (aka headphones guy).  In the end, we really lucked out – by some strange coincidence, not only were these 2 couples from the US, but they were from NYC, and specifically – the Upper West Side.  Here we were, 3750 miles away from home, about to embark on the Inca Trail, and we get placed in a group with future friends that lived around the corner from us!  As soon as the first Family Guy quote came out (within 5 minutes of the trip), we knew we would get along just fine, and we managed to keep pace with each other through the entire trip, motivating each other the whole way.

Thanks Dennis, Kristina, Andrea, and Dan for the great memories
Thanks Dennis, Kristina, Andrea, and Dan for some really great laughs and memories

As for our guide, Francisco (aka Franklin or Frank, with the failed attempt of “Cisco”), he was great too.  He had been giving tours for the last 10 years, no less than 300 total times, the fastest trip being 3.5 hours (meanwhile I can’t even do a proper marathon of the same distance on level ground in that time).  He loved to cackle with a “heh heh heh” at every joke we told, which was a confidence booster, as well as every joke he himself told, like…”come to the Pachamama Restaurant” aka our little tent with simple fold-out chairs that our cooks and porters would serve our meals in.  To round out our Pachamama Team, we had one cook and 8 porters that would serve the unbelievable task of carrying our sleeping bags, duffels, 4 days’ worth of food and cooking utensils, propane tank (!!), and tents…all on their backs with sandals on, leaving our group in the dust.  Anytime I wanted to complain about how I couldn’t breathe, the up/downhill climbs, the relatively light day pack I had to lug around, I thought of these guys.  Thankfully, there were porter laws requiring that each porter carry no more than 20kg (40 lbs) which although still quite crazy, made me feel a little better…

Last but not least, I would be remiss in not mentioning my own travel partner, who helped me keep my head up through some grueling parts of the hike, was my bodyguard for any middle-of-the-night bathroom runs (so sorry), and also was responsible for the vast majority of these photos while my hands were tied up with walking sticks.  And also most importantly, gave us all great comic relief all 26 miles.  THANKS DOUG for yet another memorable experience in the books!  Much love…

So that was our team.  Now, time for the real adventure to begin…

"Porter to your left!"  These guys raced up and down hills and were our heroes.
“Porter to your left!” These guys raced up and down hills and were our heroes.
The aforementioned "Pachamama Restaurant"
The aforementioned “Pachamama Restaurant”
The whole Inca Trail Dream Team on Day 2...the 6 of us trekkers, Francisco, our cook, and 8 superstar porters
The whole Inca Trail Dream Team on Day 2…the 6 of us trekkers, Francisco (acting as photographer), our cook, and 8 superstar porters
The much anticipated coca leaves, which upon being chewed tasted just like…leaves.
With our official Inca Trail ticket in hand, we are ready to take on our big adventure!

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