My first tattoo – All you need is Love

It was the day after the Inca trail had finished and I was back in Cuzco, enjoying waking up in a nice bed with an actual roof over my head. My right side was stinging. I reached over to feel what it was, then remembered – oh yeah, I got a tattoo last night.

The day before.
Following Cansu to the famous tattoo parlour in Cuzco town, only for support, we were introduced to Kalin, the tattoo artist who was extremely charismatic, the way rockers are, and who came very highly recommended.

What was the deciding moment?
While sitting in the parlour lounge flipping through the portfolio with Cansu as she was trying to decide on her design, I had a strong sensation of deja vu, a memory of a dream that I’d had while I was back in Sydney. In this dream I’d already had this converstion with Cansu, sitting in this very parlour, and knew instinctively that this was always the path that I was meant to follow. This trip was always going to happen, and I was always meant to get a tattoo in Peru, right now, with Cansu.

Only having had a traumatic tattoo eyeliner experience to go by, I asked Kalin if he had any painkillers. Kalin laughed and said no – tequila perhaps?

I’m lying nervously on the tattoo table with the Chemical Brothers ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ blaring over the speakers as Kalin asks loudly in his thick Peruvian accent – ‘Are you ready Tiara?’

T, closed eyes and sang in time with the chorus – ‘Here we go!’

What did I get?
The one constant in my life, or should be, is Love. Love for people, family, friends, partner, pets, food, cooking, shopping, traveling and seeing the world, music, reading, watching TV – so I had Kalin tattoo on me the chinese calligraphy for Love in fiery red, orange and yellow.

It’s still healing, itchy and scabby, but you get an idea from the pic what it’s going to look like.

The Inca Trail day 2 – Traumatised & broken

Day 2 – 11kms, uphill for 4 hours in 4200 metres above sea level altitude.

They say that the Inca Trail brings out your true self, and hours into day two as I struggled to find oxygen in this ultra thin air and lift one leg in front of the other, I realised that I wasn’t a very nice person at all, wishing hateful shit on anyone who ever said a good word to me regarding this experience.

I couldn’t believe that I had paid money to go through this torture. I was having all kinds of pathetic thoughts, like if at this moment someone would somehow mistake me for wilderbeast and shoot me, I could be choppered out of here, it would end my suffering, and it would be an admirable excuse to not finish the Inca Trail. Win/Win as far as I was concerned.

And what was with the big steps? The Inca’s weren’t a giant race?! If they were really innovative wouldn’t they have just built a tunnel path through the mountain?

At this point I couldn’t even be bothered to take any photos. I didn’t care about the ‘God-like’ scenery, it wasn’t impressing me as much as my arse was. To be honest, I didn’t care about anything anymore. I wanted to DIE. Or at least sprain an ankle and be back-packed the rest of the way to the lost city of Machu Picchu.

The dry grass down the sides of the mountain did look soft and inviting, I bet it wouldn’t be too bad if I just rolled 4200 metres down the mountain ..

If a porter offered to piggy back me the rest of the way I would shamelessly accept and pay big money for this experience. A less painful experience..

After a relentless morning of what seemed like millions of steps, and being in the potential heart-attack risk category, I see the first pass, accurately named Warmiwanusca, which translates to Dead Woman Pass, and is about another 100 metres of vertical Inca steps.

Oden, shouting from the peak – ‘C’mon honey, you can do it!’

Argh! Quads cramping.The pain. I wish these people would just shut up and let me die in silence.

I couldn’t believe it, I was so close to the first pass where the hardcore-fit people were waiting, cheering me on, watching me, and now my legs were cramping up and I was going to have to roll around and have a seizure in front of everyone.

With that scary image in mind, I pulled the final ounce of strength out of me and did a slow and steady, mechanically stiff robot up the remaining steps, collapsing to the dirt ground at the top while everyone cheered. Then sat up immediately, grabbing my lower abdomen in pain.

Amy, alarmed – ‘What is it?!’

T, wincing as whole body seized up – ‘My ovaries, cramping. Future babies dying.’

Lesson – Anyone who recommends doing the Inca Trail is not your friend and is a filthy liar who wants to see you broken.

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – Day 1

The Inca trail was the main reason I chose to come to Peru in South America.

There had been many people, including friends, who had already done this incredible trek and had informed me of what an amazing experience it was.

Even Roy and Sue in their 60’s had completed this trail to the seventh wonder of the world, Machu Picchu. It was one for the bucket list and I was blissfully ignorant of how hard it was going to be.

First day – 13kms, mostly flat with the last 30 minutes vertical stairs at an altitude of about 3000 metres above sea level.

It was a 6am start at the hotel in Cuzco and all we could bring with us on this 4 day hiking experience was a 5kg bag for the porters to carry and a day pack that would be with us at all times.

British Gemma, who was a camping rookie like myself and quite the comedic pessimist – ‘I just don’t think I can do this. We’re going to be waking up at the crack of dawn, walking the whole day, then sleeping, then walking, then sleeping, then walking, and doing this for 4 days!’

T – It’ll be fine. But you know what my biggest fear is? Toilets. My biggest worry is not being able to go to a toilet when I need to.’

Gemma – ‘Well, I can’t even pee in the bush let alone do a number 2. I’m just NOT going to go for 4 days.’

T – ‘The imodium wont stop the farting.’

Gemma – ‘shit!’

T – ‘Exactly.’

We begin the trail around Km 82 along the Urubamba River, then start moving in a steady incline around the mountains. Nothing too dramatic, and we get to stop every 20 minutes to view Inca ruins with an explanation from the guide.

It’s not until the final 5th hour that we really get into the tougher stairs and steep paths with fewer stops.

Gemma to Cansu, (an Australian student studying in Chile), in between pants – ‘When we can breathe, we’re going to have a proper moan about all this.’

We make it to camp before dark, exhausted, with Gemma describing her first bush toilet experience as being ‘like a scene out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’, and though we may have different reasoning behind it, I could totally relate to this description.