Back in 1994, a friend and I went on a trip around South America. In those days we had no Internet to search for information about the places that we were planning to visit, and no hotel reservations whatsoever. We basically gathered some information from a couple of travel magazines and used a map to decide on our itinerary. Then we bought a bus ticket to Campo Grande (MS – Brazil) and set off on our merry way. The trip from my hometown Porto Alegre (RS – Brazil) to Campo Grande took 25 hours, but that was just the beginning.
After 10 days and about 100 hours inside buses and trains, we got to Cuzco (Peru). In Cuzco, we dropped our stuff at the hostel and went off to visit the tourist attractions. We split up and after a couple of hours I went down a street market near the Plaza de Armas. At first the market was quite touristy, but after I went down a few more blocks, it started getting a bit rough. I remember that I started feeling concerned about my camera and wallet. What was a touristic place with natives trying to sell handcrafts and typical Peruvian souvenirs, suddenly became a fruit market, and then it got worse. I remember seeing some unwelcoming looks coming my way. But then I saw this church at the top of a hill, it didn’t seem to be that far, so I thought I would go up to check out the view and then get the hell out of that place, back to the safe more touristy area.
Unfortunately it was too late! While I was walking up the hill I felt I was being followed and when I decided to look back, one of the guys jumped onto my neck and got me in an armlock. I elbowed him to free myself from the armlock and then I noticed there were two guys. They came onto me and we started fighting. In fact I was doing it more by instinct as I am not the kind of guy who would react in a situation like this. If I had had more time to think I would probably have handed my belongings to them and let them walk away. But that wasn’t the case. So after a few exchanges I found myself surrounded by some 7 or 8 guys. Then the next thing I remember is that I got punched in the stomach and fell, semi-awake. An old lady came close to me saying: “there they go, there they go!”, but there was nothing I could do.
After I got mugged in Cuzco, we had no more than USD 100 left, so we decided that a good way to save money while waiting for my new credit card would be to join some guys we had just met and do the Inca Trail with them. Then we rented a tent for less than a dollar a day, bought some food and supplies and left for the famous km 88 where the trail starts. Thankfully, our trail companions had all the necessary gadgets and camping gear.
And this is why I did the Inca Trail. No doubt it was one of the greatest adventures of my late teens. One of those that happens by chance, but that will never be forgotten..
These pictures are some of my favorite ones from those days..
- If you want you to check out more photos of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, click on the link below.