Photo: Killian, Luciano and I debriefing the morning after the “bang”
I quickly turn in horror to see our quirky tour guide, Luciano, grab at his head with both hands and drop to the ground just under the overhanging rock formations.
“Shit, he is being attacked by a bat” is the first thought to cross my mind.
It is past 11pm, pitch black, and Luciano and I are exploring the grounds of the hot springs park near Lares town in search of a store to purchase some water and snacks.
After reaching the top grass terrace of the park, overlooking the hot spring pools below, we had just realized we would not be finding any store tonight, thus deciding to turn back to our makeshift campsite in defeat.
This is when Luciano, with his plentiful wavy hair, was attacked by a ferocious Peruvian bat.
Or so I thought.
“No, not a bat… it… just like someone with a bat… BOOM… on my head… the sound… the fucking rock… this is not good…” Luciano rambles incomprehensibly.
After some mental effort on my part, I finally decipher Luciano’s rambling: he wasn’t attacked by a bat, but rather walked into the overhanging rocks.
Apparently this is not the first time he has sustained a similar head injury.
“I can’t believe this happened again; I’m so angry! These fucking rocks!”
I check his head, and find a patch of his skull bleeding ever so slightly. His excessive rambling, wide open eyes, and colour drained face imply more damage than suggested by the mild superficial bleeding.
“I’ll be right back” I tell Luciano as I run down to our campsite and collect Marina, Killian, and our trek guide, Gladice along with a medical kit.
After some consultation between the 4 of us, Luciano takes a 400mg dose of Ibuprofen from Gladice’s medical kit.
A few minutes later, Killian and I carry Luciano down to the campsite and lay him down in his tent.
There are no nearby medical facilities, we have no vehicle, nor cell phone reception. The nearest village is approximately 40 minutes away on foot – in total darkness, traversing a winding dirt road with a hair-raising cliff side.
But none of this was supposed to happen.
Although we were all embarking on our 3 day trek through the Peruvian Andes the following day, tonight we were scheduled to sleep in a nice hotel in Ollantaytambo.
Unfortunately, a suspected workers strike and civilian road blocks in the area threatened our ability to get to our trek on the scheduled day – a situation which required an alternate plan: getting to our trek start point the night before and camping.
The most frightening three hour ride in a van with a mad driver through winding, cliff side “roads” was a part of this alternate plan.
As was setting up tents of unclear design and poor function in complete darkness.
Despite our complaining during the night in question, it appears it was all worth the hassle: a number of groups never made it to their trek after being blocked (if not stoned) by the protesters.
The following morning, after an oft-interrupted sleep in our poorly constructed tents, Luciano, despite feeling better, decided to hitch a ride back to Cusco and get checked out by a proper physician (given the strikes, this turned out to be a full day adventure for our clumsy Argentinean friend).
After bidding Luciano adieu with a round of hugs, Marina, Killian and I, along with our trek guide and a few others in our group, departed on our 3 day hike and camp through the difficult and yet stunning terrain of the Lares trail leading towards Machu Picchu.
“We’re actually doing this”, acknowledges Killian as we begin our ascent into the rocky landscape.
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