Monday, 7 September 2009

Lima, Tambopata, Cusco, Machu Picchu and Miami

Things have been drifting along over the past few weeks.

We spent a family holiday in Peru. One of those “it might be the last ones we manage to take together” kind of events.

I’m a bit of an oddity in our household. As well as being the only transvestite …so long as you discount the fact that Sally and both my daughters sometimes wear trousers … I’m also the only one that would generally rather spend a relaxing few days at home rather than go through the rigmarole of packing, spending hours and hours and hours travelling, unpacking etc etc etc.

As Peru approached … or at least as mid August approached … there were moments when I questioned my sanity. In re-reading about “day 2 of the Inca trail” it was hard to remember what it was that ever convinced me that this was a good idea.

The flight was scheduled to leave Heathrow early on a Wednesday morning. It meant setting the alarm for 4:00 am. Good practice for the days ahead.

The night before was a TV Dinner.

My cunning plan was to pack everything the night before the TV dinner. Breeze along to the dinner. Sleep for a few hours. Wake up. Travel to the airport.

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Come Monday I realise that  tgirls are not immune from this syndrome.

Emailed apologies and Tuesday night sees me packing and unpacking and packing suitcases. A little on the irritable side of grumpy.

In a sense, only a a few small pieces of Andrea gets to go to Peru. Things like girlie jeans, panties, finger and toenails, perfume.

In another sense, all of Andrea gets to be there as well since all of Andrea is me.

Wednesday August 12th sitting at the airport in Madrid waiting for the connecting flight to Lima and my mobile begins to ring.

I look at it.

It’s work.

I press “Ignore this call”.

A couple of minutes later … a text message.

I have voicemail.

I listen to it … and phone work feeling glad that the European Union recently forced mobile phone companies to reduce the rates that they charge for calls within Europe. Calls now cost only a small fortune.

On the flight to Lima we get to fill out a form asking if we have recently had a fever, a headache, a cough … I don’t know of anyone that admitted to this.

At Lima airport people are giving out information leaflets about Swine flu. A few, though hardly any, are wearing face masks.

We spend a few days in the rain forest … a 3 hour boat trip from Puerto Maldonado along the Tambopata river. The lodge is lovely. The lack of hot water not so bad as I expected it to be. Hot and humid. The nights might be cold we are told … maybe even as low as 16 degrees … Centigrade.

We see caimans, capybara, spiders, parakeets, trees, plants, the jungle from all kinds of angles.

Walking is an activity that makes me glow. A bright shining kind of glow. 

I empathise with the author of this:“horses-sweat-men-perspire-ladies-merely-glow…”-or-why-proverbs-are-complete-tosh/

After a pleasant few days of perspiration we fly to Cusco.

At 3,310 metres it’s quite a bit higher than the jungle.

A few pleasant days acclimatising and we board the bus that takes us to the 82Km starting pint of the Inca Trail. That’s 82Km from Cusco … the walk from here to Machu Picchu is about 42km.

Day 1 and all is well. No problems.

Apart from sleeping in a tent and having no showers.

The guides are great, though. Miguel explains that you can spot the “real” travellers in Machu Picchu as opposed to the ones that got there by train. It’s all a matter of fragrances.

Day 2 is in three parts.

Part 1 is fine.

Part 2 … the walk to Dead Woman’s Pass … at 4,210m this is the highest point in the journey. At the start of the day we were 1.2Km lower.

It was steep.

I have fond memories of thinking … if I had a voodoo doll of Sally … the plotter of this whole adventure … and a couple of pins …

Maybe they’ll rename the place Dead TGirl’s Pass?

Rolando, the assistant guide is assisting whoever is at the back.

Which is me.

Very patiently he walks along and we talk.

Sit down.


Sit down.


The proportion of time spent sitting down is increasing.

“Let me take your rucksack”.

I only take a little convincing.

And then my younger daughter arrives … having walked back from the top.

She takes my rucksack and we continue.

I’m walking four times further than she and Rolando … crisscrossing from one side of the path to the other.

Approaching the top, Miguel waves me on.

Now it’s a mere 800 or so metres back down the other side.

And I missed noticing the outline of the mountains that looks like a dead woman. Rolando explains that all you can see from this angle is the boobies.

Day 3 is easier … but a lot of downhill and very sore toes.

Julia asks me if living in a household where everyone else is a girl  has made me more “feminine”. Oh yes … definitely … I smile.

A campsite with a bar!

Day 4 is a very early start and a brisk … for me at any rate … walk to Machu Picchu.

The walk was hard work for both myself and Sally. The daughters found it a snip … hardly a glow and not much heavy breathing.

The sights … spectacular. The history interesting.

Back to Cusco.

My fingernails are torn at the tips … so with … only a a liiitle weeping and gnashing of teeth I cut them back.


Miami. Thirteen hours at Miami airport.

I am amazed how long it takes to get through passport control at Miami airport.

And that the old green visa waiver form still has to be completed even though it also has to be filled out online before the trip. The one that asks if you are carrying a firearm or if you are a spy and other interesting kind of questions. It doesn’t ask about coughs, headaches or fevers.



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