Autumn’s Adventures

Walking with the Llamas
March 21, 2009, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Argentina, Travel | Tags: , , , , ,

As a good host should, I brought Alex up to the north and we spent a night in Tilcara.  We rented a really nice room and had a nice dinner that included a live folklore show.  We drank 2.5 bottles of wine and I was d-r-u-n-k.  We left the dinner place and stumbled into another restuarant with live music.  There we ran into some chicks from the hostel that we stayed in when we were in Salta.  They were probably not as drunk as we were but you can never tell when you are already super drunk how drunk others are.  Alex ordered a beer and I drank some but wished I hadn’t.  I guess I was in the habit of drinking so I didn’t see the stop sign my stomach had so boldly put in front of my fuzz-drunk face.  Let’s just say I spent a good part of that night hovered over the toilet, stomach teasing me but never actually puking.

Somehow, Alex convinced me that going Llama trekking at 10am the next day would be a good idea.  My hungover mind and body did not wholly agree but as a good host I put on my “good sport” attitude and signed up for the trek.  Seeing Alex’s broken little spirit was something I could not bear.  After all, he’s such a good travel buddy that I figured just being around him would make it fun.

This trek was going to be 5 hours of walking with/leading llamas up a mountain in the middle of the day in blazing sun.  I prepared myself with sunblock and brought it with me for re-application.  I didn’t have a hat so I prayed that my head would not burn.

The trek started out pretty easy.  Llamas walk pretty slow so it was a nice stroll until we reached the bottom of the mountain.  Our guide, Santos, had a bag of coca leaves that he had us throw into a hole at the bottom of the mountain wishing for a good day ahead.  He then told us to chew on coca so we wouldn’t get altitude sickness.  I’ve had coca leaves before and the taste is gross but I did it anyway.  Going up the mountain was pretty intense because it was a steep incline.  I couldn’t believe how agile the llamas were and how swiftly they climbed the mountain.

When we reached the top of the mountain we found a nice spot and set up a picnic there.  The guide had prepared a pretty awesome picnic for us, complete with wine, fresh fruit and goat cheese.  I was impressed.  We chilled there for a while and Alex realized that he was severely burned on his left arm. He was as red as a tomato.  I gave him some more sunblock but by this point the damage was done.

The trek down the mountain was the scariest part as he had us going down some pretty steep cliffs, still leading our llamas.  I let my llama go at one point and told him to find his own way down while i slowly baby-stepped my way down the slippery slope.

Overall I had a good time but I can’t say that I would do it again.  It was cool but I don’t dig climbing mountains, especially guiding a stubborn llama behind me.


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