The next day, knowing nothing of where we were actually going or how long it would take to get there (except for vague (false) rumours of a 1hr bus ride, followed by a 3 hour hike), we met our companions for the journey. There were 8 of us all together, and the people we had met before we knew vaguely at best.
Excited, and severely underestimating how long it would take us to get there, we piled into 2 taxis and sped off to the bus station. From there we took a mini bus to Calca, about an hour away from Cuzco. This is where our first problem arose - there were no more busses headed to Lares that evening. Negotiations were made with taxi drivers until we found one that would rip us off the least. Desparate to get moving and not spend the night at the bus station we agreed to pay the extortionate rate of Sl. 250 (approximately $85) to get there, in a 5 seater car. With no other options the 9 of us, and all of our bags, piled in: Two in the boot with the bags, 5 in the back seat and one in the front with the driver. Once everyone was as comfortable as they were going to get, our 3 hour taxi ride began. We wound up and up and up a mountain road in the dark, sometimes acutely aware of the sharp drop off on one side of the road.
The tiny car which was obviously not designed for 9 people sat low to the ground and the never ending roadworks seemed to be working against us. A collective cringe was shared every time something scraped the bottom of the car, with each of us feeling each bump and scratch within our own bodies. At least 10 times during the trip we all had to pile out of the car so that the taxi could drive over gravel or water - or at one point so it could drive up a hill without all of us weighing it down.
At one point a policeman pulled us over ¨we´re screwed¨ BB and I thought, there is no way they´ll let us keep going. One officer took the taxi driver out of the car, the other stuck his head in the passenger window and had a conversation with the guys in Spanish that went something like the following:
Hey where are you guys from? - Peru, USA, Argentina, Australia, Italy
Where are you off to? - Lares Baño Thermales
How many of you are in the car? 8
(policeman laughs) Ok have fun
The taxi driver gets back in the car and we drove off. Times like that really remind me that i´m not at home.
After 3 long and unconfortable but hillarious hours - that included being introduced to Nebus´ inner Russian (in Russia, first we have sex with the cow, then we kill it, then we eat it / in Russia we drink vodka and kill people) - we arrived at the hot springs, 5 minutes before they closed. We talked our way in - Yes sir we are all Peruvian - set up our tents and spent the night floating in hot water, drinking wine and staring at the stars. Bliss!
Early the next afternoon we reluctantly left as some of the group had to work that evening. We managed to take the last local bus of the day to Calca - which was ridiculously cheaper than our clown car taxi the night before, but equally as squishy as we had to share seats (Oh i sold your seats so now you 5 will have to stand). The bus took about 5 hours - including a one hour at a road block on a mountain for no apparent reason, and we still had another 1 hour bus ride from there.
Sleepy and already feeling like the benefits of soaking in hot water all night were erased by the jouney home we vowed that next time we would take Nibus´ truck and that we´d leave much earlier so we don´t spend as much time in transit as we do at the actual destination.
The whole experience was hillarious and amazing. It always seems to be that the random adventure that find us are the most fun. Once again I am so happy about our casual travel style that allows us to jump on such adventures.