My experience on the inca trail January 2010

2am. Mud. Moving swiftly in the night, unheard and unnoticed by the sleeping campers. With deadly accuracy it hits. It is over as quickly as it began. An Argentian girl, lost forever, in the enchanted world that has turned into a dark and twisted playground for the elements of earth and sky.

We begin the last day of trekking. Death is looming. Water. Mud. We grit our teeth and keep walking. Two pale faces. Walking in the wrong direction. Do we have a radio? No, Why. Second Mudslide. Their guide has been hit by a mudslide. My friend and I were the next in line. We are the only other two people to know of the second death on the trail. Water. Mud. Three hours to Machu Picchu. Unable to return to the campsite. Stuck. No choice but to keep walking. When would the next one hit. My feet are floating across the wet ground, the world around me is gliding by, a blur of green. Water. Mud. I scale the steps. Only one goal. Get through this alive. My heart is racing. It is heavy. Labored. I think of my family. I think of my friends. I think of the Argentinean girlís family. What if it was mine. I look to my friend I am trekking with. Her face is familiar. Safe. Childhood friends. Is this our last memory together. She is the only thing that is real to me. The mud is unforgiving. The rain continues.

We reach the sun gate. A view point of Machu Picchu. A place to reflect. Usually a place of beauty and happiness. For us it is fear. I am angry. I am angry at the very nature that had inspired and moved me yesterday. People are smiling. Why. They donít know. Not everybody knows. Their ignorance stings my soul. We continue on to Machu Picchu. Silence. We walk in silence. I keep looking to my friend. I feel her next to me. We are still here.

We have made it. I am aware. Aware of my body. How my feet feel on the ground. How my arms swing at my side. I am aware of my soul. How easy it is to get lost in a moment. To forget. The fog lifts. It is beautiful. It is grand. Surrounded by looming mountains, it is a pocket of life. Its lines are straight. It strikes me how neat it looks. Perfect. Picturesque. A postcard. Who would know. Who would know of the pain. The horror. The fear. How easy it is to forget.

I have made it. I take in the moment. Water. Mud. Still falling. Still flowing in the mountains around me. Death still looms. I turn my back. I begin the descent to safety. I take in a breath. The air is cold. It rushes through me. I am alive. Its time to go.

R Sandler

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