Adventure Journal: Adventure in Peru
This is an adventure journal of students from Leeds University that happened in Peru. This novel is for those who love adventure stories in the wilderness.
At the Airport
Through the busy crowds of Jorge Chavez International Airport, myself and three other deeply excited student travelers rushed towards baggage claim. We spoke little, as we
continued through the airport. We located the bag claim and made our way over to our things. We stood, whilst families, businessman, and other locals waited with us, all looking off
Peruvian descent. We, however, were the 4 musketeers of Leeds University, who instead of finishing the last year and dealing with the stress of the finals, decided to put together our
life savings ( plus the reluctant help of some of our families) and venture out into the world. We were not tourists for say. We hadn’t taken any selfie sticks or bright Hawaiian
shirts with us, no. We were explorers, to say.
I love to travel
During the gap year, we had traveled around 6 continents. Ranging from the busy streets of Marrakech to the isolated woodlands of Siberia. My favorite so far had been Malaysia. I
envied how beautiful the country scenery was, compared to the average indigenous forests
of West Yorkshire. Throughout the excursion, We all began to share a deep interest in rainforests and in particular mountains. We searched online for places that we thought
looked interesting to venture to. The mountains of Peru called for us to visit. We packed our things from Honduras, where we had stayed for while after visiting Mexico. We weren’t too
impressed with the country so we were adamant to go somewhere that truly got to us on a spiritual level.
We stood, laughing and joking next to the locals as they stood in silence. I could tell by their confused looks that they knew were travelers. I could even sense they knew we were
European. But what did that bother us? We were about to finish our trip of a lifetime in one of the most sought-after places on the planet. No wonder we were a little bit excited.
Minutes turned into hours as we stood, legs starting to collapse from the exhaustion of the past few days, waiting for our possessions to trickle down the conveyor belt. I could start to feel
the lack of sleep catching up with me, but I dismissed this. I was too excited to despair. A strong coffee would do the trick.
Our bags landed at our feet, filled to the brim full of equipment and trekking essentials. My back had become immune to the burning sensation caused by weight exerted on it. I just
allowed it now. There was no time, nor point to complain.
We made our way out of the airport, past crowds of families and tourists. I went over to a lonely coffee vendor and began to drink it as we exited. Revolted, I threw it away after a
mere 2 sips. The crowd laughed as they questioned me as to what exactly expected. As it was Peru, not Starbucks.
Taxi for a ride…
The taxi rank had already been arranged due to the excellent organization of George who had the ingenious plan to order the minibus prior to getting there. We threw our luggage into the rather insignificant boot and hopped in.
Inside the vehicle, the comfort was obsolete, to say the least. Three of us had been crammed into the back, whilst Jack had taxed the passenger seat. It was typical of him to
do such a thing. He loved to get things with zero work of effort. He even had paid people to write academic papers during University, something that epitomized his character. Everyone
in the group got along exceedingly well, for we wouldn’t have decided to travel the world together if not, however, each member had flaws and these were made even more
transparent during months abroad together, myself included. I knew, that I was very easily wound up, and everyone in the group had been made aware of this- in the occasional
unnecessary outburst every now and then.
The day was coming to a close. We were both too mentally and physically tired to start the trek into the mountainous region now, so we had decided to begin at sunrise the following
day. This allowed us to be at ease as the day was coming to an end, its light fading into colors of orange-red and yellow. The sky began to look like an artist’s messy palette. I
starred with wonder out of the window of the van, my eyes transfixed on the monoliths of natural beauty that towered over everything in the not so far distance. The Skys colors had
rendered next to the giant hills, giving them another dimension of beauty that was hard to put into simple English language. I couldn’t take my eyes of the creations, I had become transfixed.
A hostel for us…
We arrived at the hostel that was to stay for the night at. It was pretty standard, nothing special, but for the money paid, it was everything we needed. We checked in as we greeted
by a small lobbyist who directed us to our room. He seemed happy enough, but I didn’t understand how. The quality of life living in such an isolated place in such an isolated
country must have been extremely difficult. Maybe, I began to wonder, if money wasn’t everything to these people. For one, they had one of natures grandest creations in their
back garden, maybe that was enough for their smiles. I could tell, also, that the little man knew little English. He spoke to us using hand gestures and signals, whilst still
simultaneously maintaining his grin. As we shown to our rooms, we felt it necessary to tip him. I searched in my wallet for any spare change. The coffee that I had bought earlier had
reduced some of my cash to change so decided to give him as much as I could. We pooled together $35 and we saw his face light up. He gestured to us his appreciation and scuttled away down the corridor.
We fell onto our beds as the sense of exhaustion excreted from our bodies. It felt blissful. The beds, however, were as soft as tarmac, which made it somewhat impossible to sink
into the bedsheets. The room was acceptable for the circumstances. There were a few stains here and there but nothing that raised any alarm bells. The walls were painted a
tanned yellow, and there was a little handmade painting of Machu Picchu that isolated on the yellow walls.
The time was a mere 7 o Clock, but it felt much much later, probably due to the early sunsetting in Peru. We made the joint decision not to venture out of the hostel that night,
and eat the snacks and meals we had packed with us. A lot of the food we had brought for this trip was survival food, as we knew would need some sort of nutrients for such a long couple of days.
On the floor say the 4 rucksacks and a bag containing the tent equipment. The mountain of items seemed to make me feel sick. Were we really going to manage to take all of that with
us? I had been on many hikes before, but never under the conditions of today. We were somewhat chronically tired, but we all wanted to hike so bad, that we had completely
ignored our health. Mildly concerned, I decided to close my eyes, trying to get some savored sleep that I had longed for.
Time to go hiking
I awoke to the alarm on my phone screaming at me. With heavy reluctance, I jumped out of bed, trying to gather my senses. I looked above me to see if Alex had woke up. Still in
peaceful slumber. The bunk beds across to us were George and Jack. Jack, was much like Alex, in deep sleep. George, however, was nowhere to be seen. I assumed he had arisen
early to make sure that everything was in specking order and nothing had been forgotten. I walked over to the pile of bags. Scanned to see if all the equipment had been put together.
Only 3 bags were in my vision. Weird, I thought to myself as I looked again, trying to make sure my vision had not been affected by my tiredness. Still, three of our bags remained on
the floor. I noticed a small piece of paper laying flat next to the tent bag. I knelt down to pick it up.
‘Hi guys, its George, I’ve been up for 2 hours now, and none of you have been waking up. I actually want to make it up whilst it’s light so I’ve decided to go up alone, I’ll see you all up there.’
Disgusted with what I had just read, I screwed the piece of paper into a ball, hurling it at the wall. I continued to shout at the remainder of the guy for them to wake up. I called
once, no one moved. I shouted again, but louder. An orchestra of profoundly annoying moans filled the room as Jack and Alex sat up in their beds. ‘George has left us’ I
exclaimed loudly, with a sort of rage storming in my chest.
“What do you mean he’s left??” Inquired Alex, his head still rested upon his pillow.
“He must have woke up early… He said we taking too long, and that we wouldn’t make it up in time if he was too stay, so he’s gone up by himself.”
“I don’t bloody believe it” responded Jack, sitting up from his bed, starting to get ready into his gear.
“Neither do I… but I guess it is just going to be us three for a bit”
The group fell silent. We had lost one of the greatest assets to the team, and we didn’t know how to react.
We came to our senses and exited the building. It was about to be a long day. The trek began, awkwardness from losing one of our friends had passed and had been exchanged
for laughter. The heat of the Peruvian sun had not fully set into us yet, for it had not reached midday. The day was still in its infancy, but the heat was still more excruciating than what we were used to.
The journey up into the mountains was a long one. We knew that we were not to peak tonight, but make as much ground upwards as possible. The trail in which we were walking
was none that I had experienced before. Most of the mountains trails were in the open, covered with rocky terrain, but this had a lot more vegetation than I knew. I could see the
tip of the mountain, it felt so distant. The energy inside told me to give up, rendering the challenge as too much for us. Another part of me urged myself to keep going, regardless of
how tired I was. I was there now, I might never get this opportunity again.
We continued to proceed up the large mount, with the laughter and the talk slowly diminishing as the day matured. We must have been on a journey for a good 6 hours at this
point, and we could begin to start to feel the air get cooler and the sky darker. I could begin to see the splitting in the sky that I loved. The golden-red sunset that looked like it
had been designed just for me. I could stare at it for hours on end. There was a certain glow about it today that was unmatched. I and the other guys began to set up camp
in an opening that we had discovered on the main trail. We thought it would be irresponsible and dangerous to journey off the trail on our own, especially now that our
most experienced, the organized member had gone AWOL.
We set up camp with a reasonable time to stop and watch the sunset. I took the camera out from the bottom of my rucksack. I had forgotten to charge it fully from the days before. I
quickly managed to turn it on and snap a picture of the red skies. I don’t pride myself in being a good photographer, as I am far from it, but from what I had managed to capture in
the past had been incredible. I looked back on the picture, it was incredible. I could see the mountains in the distance, squashed together as the evening’s sky fell upon them, slowly fading into the darkness.
Alex and Jack cared little for the stunning views, they were too preoccupied trying to get the campfire to start. We had brought the necessary items that we could survive on for the
next couple of days. Lots of tinned food had been packed, giving me incredible back pain for the entire day. A lot of calorie-dense, non-perishable food had been put in too. A couple
of energy gels also, nothing like a 5-star restaurant but certainly better than starving.
The two managed to get the fire to start and proceeded to consume a cup filled with baked beans as we all watched the sunset. We knew we had a mountain to climb, both physically and mentally.
After we had eaten the beans and the sun had retired, we collected our things and say our goodnights. The day was now cold, and a strong breeze had begun to circle around us,
fighting its way into my petit pop tent. My eyes closed as I envisioned the summit before us. The landscape around us stretching for hundreds of miles. Our team ending the trip
around the globe on a high note. I had not thought of George, but I wished him well on his solo venture. I worried little for I knew he had the capabilities to submit easily. I just
wished that he had stayed around so we could have completed it as a team, but that was behind us now. I could feel my body starting to drift, my body becoming weightless. The
noise, the discomfort of the rocky base was now least of my worries. I felt weirdly content.
I awoke abruptly to the screech of the wind trying to tear into my tent. Panic started to kick in. I didn’t want to exit from the tent, as I believed the wind would throw it directly off
the side of the mountain. I sat upright, waiting for the time to pass. I looked down into the darkness of my wrist, trying to decipher what time it was. 4:13 AM flashed before me on
my trusty Casio. Tired but concerned for the rest of the camp, I took the faithful risk and unzipped the side of the tent.
Outside was baron, but not silent. The force of the wind whipped through the air causing a scream like noise to echo around the campsite. As expected, the campfire had been
extinguished. The ash had blown away, leaving a small dent in the ground where the flames once burned. I could feel the intense force of the wind pulling against my face as I tried to
look out of the tent.
Although I could not see with much accuracy, it seemed to look like the tents of my fellow travelers had gone. Filling with even more panic, I fully unzipped my
tent, disregarding the power of the wind the process. The fire remained. But 2 outlines of tents lay upon the rocky floor. A feeling of pure dread engulfed me. I was a considerable
altitude currently, we probably could have peaked the following day. Sirens started to go off in my head. Where were they? There was no way they could have started so early without
telling me, it would have been a complete betrayal to leave me. Maybe someone had taken them? Maybe they had found George and had forgotten to tell me. I didn’t even begin to
question the thought of their tents being blown off the edge of the mountains. I wanted to peer down the base of the mountain, but I could not bring myself to think such thought.
With the wind blowing across my frozen pale face, I shouted out into the abyss, hoping for a return call. My screams for help were countered by the even louder screams of the wind,
swallowing my attempts. After calling at my lungs’ largest capacity, I decided that I had been defeated. The sun was not yet rising, the sky looked like the depth of hell as it absorbed any trace of life on the mountain.
My panic had turned into misery as tears began to pour down my face in confusion. The water dripping onto my cheek was now colder than the wind. The feeling in my gut as to
the location of my two friends even more frozen. I didn’t even to bother folding up the tent. I left it as I collected my belongings. My bag is my only companion as I started my descent down the mountain edge.
I knew how dangerous the climb was, but I knew I had no option. One step after the next as I ventured into the abyss. The wind was still attacking me from every direction. I wasn’t
expecting this. All I knew was I needed to find someone, whether it was someone from the group or a local official. I hoped that the mountains guides were cooperative, or else my
chances of seeing my friends looked even bleaker.
I must have been climbing my way back down for a couple of hours, well to me it seemed like that. The sun was beginning to rise, enabling to see my way a little better. It was still
too dark for me to see a clear path to the bottom of the mountain, but I could feel myself getting lower and lower. I knew this as I could smell the leaves of the trees that situated
themselves along the foot of the heavy hills. I was hitting the rainforest, just what I wanted.
I had entered a new terrain now, one that I had wanted to enter for months. One that I had dreamt of visiting, had now turned into a nightmare. The fear that came from
venturing into the deep vegetation, being exposed to poisonous insects, plants and dangerous predators, phased me a little compared to the burning sensation that came from not knowing the safety of my friends.
A cold sweat had adorned my brow, my face had reddened from the running, the stomach was aching from the lack of food that I had eaten, and I had become increasingly dizzy. My
eyes kept looking out for any fallen debris on the rainforest floor. Heavy branches would easy trip me if I was to come into contact now. My vision was still skewed by the lack of sunlight
being cast onto me. The leaves of the high trunks swallowing most of the early morning rays.
I kept my pace up, although my back had begun to hurt profusely due to the weight of my rucksack. A thousand thoughts circled in my mind as I maneuvered my way through
natures hellish obstacle course. My thoughts disregarding my safety as sharp bits of jungle wood dug into my arm as I vaulted over a wooden opening.
I’m in pain…
The pain was immediate and didn’t feel like stopping. I looked to my right arm to see what had been caused. It was still too dark to determine. I wanted to create myself, but the
determination to reach the base of the trail pushed me onwards.
The forest had consumed me at this point. I had not remembered the path on the way up, much to my ignorance and stupidity. I wanted to punish myself for my lack of awareness. I
had put myself in a bigger predicament than I should’ve. My instincts told me the trail I was on was correct, but I had started to create my own path as I desperately tried to descend, further adding to my panic. I was not just alone now, I was lost.
The wound that graced my arm had not given up the fight to grab my attention. My rucksack’s weight had caused the wound to numb, further adding to my worry.
Tears could not form as I let out another cry of desperation to my friends. The power of the eastern breeze had neutralized, but no voice was heard in response. Out of breath and out
of hope, my running came to an end as I began to realize that I had taken the wrong path, and had now jeopardized things even further. I touched the cut on my arm with my fingers,
forgetting the grit and the bacteria that must have accumulated on them.
My legs now had become immune to the pain running. They had been converted to a state of jelly rather than muscle, flesh, and bone. The weight exerted upon them seemed to be
lifted as I felt my body propel into the air. I had walked off a small cliff edge unknowingly. But, at the time, I wasn’t to know this until my eyes woke from the darkness, presumably a couple of hours, if not days later.
My eyes began to open but at a snail’s pace. It felt like the slime of one had force sealed them closed. I could tell I was on my side, my right arm was practically irresponsive. As my
eyes began to open, a light so blinding presented itself to me. Light was so white it sent chill down my neck, down my back reaching my feet.
The bright illumination dissipated, revealing the lush green of the forest once again. It wasn’t how I remembered it. Before, it was a hellhole, black and eerie. But now, its green
appearance, it is humid warm and warm buzz of biodiversity made me feel somewhat at ease. I use my left hand to see if I had any other injuries apart from the one on my arm. I
hoped I had not suffered anything cerebral or any head injuries as my survival would begin to look very bleak.
I used the force of the one operating arm to propel myself to sit up. I began to observe my injuries. A gash, probably around 6mm had been forced into my arm. There was a large
stain of brown dried blood that had dribbled from arm onto my shirt. My right arm was covered in reddish-brown dye. The cut itself looked nasty. Dirty from the ground had covered the exposed wound.
I searched around for my rucksack. It was not on my back anymore. I scanned around to see it 5 meters away, some of the contents scattered around the jungle floor. I crawled
over to it, trying to find my water bottle. I dug around with my one arm and managed to locate it. I poured the liquid onto the cut; a pain more excruciating than any I had known
hit my bottom. I bit down onto my shirt as the fire upon my arm continued to burn. My eyes began to water a little bit as the sensation continued.
I felt better…
The burning ended after a couple of minutes, allowing me to return to a normal heartbeat. I knew that I couldn’t keep the wound exposed, infection would be potentially fatal if I
was to get one. I poured the contents of the bag onto the ground, finding my little first aid kit. I managed to unzip the bag and find the bandage. I managed to create a makeshift
sling with the bandage, covering it tightly to make sure no disease was to get into it.
I felt a little bit better with myself, but now I had one less arm. I checked the items that had fallen on the floor. My water bottle sat next to my lap, my raincoat had been put into a
scrunched up ball. A tin of beans had been thrown out. At least I wasn’t to starve.
My penknife had come out too, but what I really needed was my flare. I remained knees upon the dirt, searching desperately for anything I could use as a signal. I stood up. My
knees incredibly battered and bruised, and I went to have a further inspection of my bag. I opened the bag up fully, trying to see if there were any hidden details that I was missing.
All of a sudden a memory from the back of my mind, like it had been planted by divine intervention, came into focus. I had put them in the lower back pocket. I reached in. My
hands still covered will blood and dirt, my fingers crawling in desperation. To my complete shock, I could feel the outline. From then on, I had a feeling that someone was looking over
me. Whether it was my Father or even my Mother. Tears started to fill up my eyes as I began to believe that there was a way out for me. I no longer expected to die there, lost and confused.
Using the last of my strength available, I managed to strike the signal. An eruption of red smoke was released, turning the green around me red. I watched as the smoke drifted into
the sky. It’s color invading the air through the thick branches of the forest. The sky suddenly turned from crystal blue to blood dried red. I lifted my water bottle close to my
mouth, the final drips of salivation poured down my throat. I felt refreshed, but still equally exhausted.
I decided not to make a campfire. I had faith that a higher power would come and rescue me. As I laid on my back, my eyes gazing into the sky, I couldn’t stand up again. I could
feel my body beginning to drift. It felt angelic. It was a feeling unmatched by any pleasure I had experienced in the past. I had started to feel fully at ease with my situation. I had
touched hands with God himself, I was at peace. Nothing could match this. It did not occur to me that I was so close to death. The fall had not just caused a wave of dizziness, it had caused an internal bleed. I was moments away from death.
I could the bright light beginning to consume me, a light much brighter than the brightest light I had seen prior. This was a different type of light. I wanted to reach it. I could feel my
body ascending, much like up the mountain I was trying to summit. Nothing around me seemed to matter anymore, I had little worry about my friends as I knew the universe had
a plan for us all. My transcendence to the light was starting to be nearer until I heard a loud scream from somewhere external.
Confused, I wanted to move my head, but the light was starting to close in on me. I began to think if this really wasn’t good, and that I was in serious trouble. I tried again to move
my head from the floor but I still couldn’t budge. I started to panic. I did not want to meet the whiteness.
At last, I wasn’t alone…
Suddenly, I felt the vibrations of footsteps closing in on me, getting closer and closer. All I could do was stare upwards and move my eyes, only very slightly. The red smoke of what I
could see before had been replaced with a face, although I could not recognize it. Then two more faces appeared next to the other. It was George and Jack. I could feel that they were
talking to me, but I could not understand them. A murmur of noise seemed to be fizzing above me. The white light had canceled this time, I felt safe.
I awoke to the gentle whispers of someone above me. My eyes opened to see a face I had not seen in a long time, Alex.
“You’re alive!” He exclaimed to me.
“Only just” I managed to respond with, trying to maintain my humor.
Alex laughed halfheartedly.
“What happened” I begged to ask.
“We won’t get into it now, all that matter is that you’re okay.”
“Where am I?” I questioned.
“Lima Infirmary, you’re going to be fine… just a couple of bruises, that’s all” he lied.
“Did you submit?” I countered back with.
“Well, George did actually. I and Jack went searching for you for the last days, we had no idea where you were. We still don’t know what exactly happened.”
“Well I’m sorry, I went searching for you… but I can’t remember, my head is blurred.”
“Yeah well the doctors said you might have not been able to recall too many events so don’t worry too much”
“ok..” I responded with hastily. “How long until I get to leave?”
I looked down the corridor of the hospital, it was glowing pure white.
“A couple of days, not too long” replied Alex, his face trying to reassure me. “They just need to check if anything serious has happened, that’s all. Anyway, get some rest pal, you need it” his face looked dead with exhaustion.
I was discharged from the hospital 3 days later. I had been there 11 days with a brain bleed. I could only remember the 4 days. Whether that is good or bad, I don’t quite know.
The doctor informed me that the memories of my ordeal may have been skewed, but I still don’t quite believe him.
Going Home…the end of adventure journal
We boarded the flight back to Manchester Airport in the evening. The golden glow of the sky was in full swing again. As I looked out of the window, I could see the vast stretch of
jungle and mountains and jungle and skies that continued for miles. The red and pink and purple danced in the air as the plane said its farewell to the region. I couldn’t quite believe
what had happened. What actually had happened. Was I missing something? I was determined to find out the truth.
Only a fiction.