Brittany White doesn’t hike, she doesn’t camp, and she certainly don’t ride no horses. So when I got invited on a camping trip that involved a 8 hours horse back ride and 2 hour high altitude hike to camp out in the middle of nowhere to see a cool lake and pre-Incan ruins, I let my naiveté cloud my vision and I said, “Sure, why not?”
We were headed to a place called Laguna de las Momias, or Mummy Lagoon named for the 70 mummies from the Chachapoyas culture found high above the lake back in 1997. And ya’ll know I’m all about the history, so I found a way to romanticize travelling far off the beaten path to look at some obscure ruins on the edge of a cliff.
WELL LET ME TELL YA’LL.
First, lets talk about how I chose to be cheap and buy the 5 sol poncho instead of the 20 sol poncho and how it rained for the first 3 or 4 hours of the trip. So there I was wearing the thinnest, sorriest piece of tattered plastic on horseback as it rained all over me and all I could do was cry – real talk.
I initially was able to keep my crying on the DL because nobody could really tell the difference between my tears and rain drops but then lunch rolled around and blew my
cover. See, our guides had been telling us that we would be stopping for lunch in a cave so in my head that meant we’ll stop, make a fire, eat a warm meal, change into dry clothes – You know, that whole bit that I probably saw somewhere in a movie once? Yeah, that didn’t happen.
We ended up stopping right out in the middle of nowhere with zero shelter from the falling rain and eating chocolate bars and cookies for lunch. I was so cold and my hands were so frozen that I couldn’t even pull my pants back up after I went to the bathroom – my friend Hilary had to help me like I was in an old folks home.
I wanted to cry because I was so upset and I wanted to laugh because the thought that I shelled out a couple hundred soles to have the worst time ever is actually pretty funny in self deprecating kind of way. I mean truly, if any of my friends would have described my worst nightmare, they would have described this trip and to say that I was way out of my comfort zone would have been an understatement. Anywho, after about 7 more hours of grueling travel, we finally arrived at our campsite, dried off, warmed up, ate, went to bed and pressed the reset button.
The next day we hiked down to the lake which is beautiful. The lagoon itself is mysterious with its quiet and dark waters just giving me all the life Indiana Jones movies are made out
of. We crossed the lake in preparation to climb up on the cliff side to see the mausoleums where the mummies were found.
Now, I could lie to ya’ll and tell you that I made it to the top and saw the mausoleums and the ancient skulls and wall paintings but I didn’t. I got half way up the cliff and decided to stop because your girls heart was about to explode from the hiking a steep incline at a high altitude. I’m not ashamed to admit that because even though functioning outside of your comfort zone is great, I still know my limits and I was just done. I waited for my friends to come back and had them show me their pictures as we headed back towards our camping site.
The next day, we set off back to civilization having mentally prepared ourselves for the cold, the rain, and the misery but to our surprise the trip back was pretty awesome. We laughed, we joked, and learned that a cookie and piece chocolate lunch isn’t so bad when it isn’t seasoned with the tear salt. It was amazing to be able to appreciate how the landscaped moved from cloud forest to barren open plains, to open farm land – it made it all worth it really.
I laugh now at my thinking initially, “Why not do this ” because there were a million
reasons not to do this and everything about the trip description screamed, “Brittany, don’t play yourself,” and you know what? I did play myself -about a million times over.
Doing this trip reminded me a lot of doing the Peace Corps. I laughed, I cried, I laughed and cried at the same time. It was long and hard not only my emotions but on my body and I really, really missed home. But I had a great group of volunteers who helped as we collectively laughed off the ridiculousness of it all and before you know it we were back at home but with a once in a lifetime opportunity underneath our belts.
So I guess all this to say, cheers to the best worst trip ever. You were somethin’ else.