I’m gonna get really real here.
A couple of years ago, I hiked Machu Picchu. The experience was amazing: the sights, the flowers, the ruins, the breeze, the history. It was all perfect, until I started feeling the familiar ping of cramps on the third day. Damn!
As women, we know to prepare for this kind of thing. But somehow, it completely slipped my mind. The experience was interesting, and I’m here to share a few things, should you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
The Toilet Situation
… Well, there aren’t any. Aside from one squat toilet on the 6th hour of day 2, and one squat toilet at a resting point and campsite on day 3, there’s nothing. If you get caught off guard as I did, you’ve got to improvise. And for me, that meant getting pretty comfortable behind the bushes near my campsite. TMI?
The Shower Situation
… Again, nothing until the end of Day 3. Gross.
So What’s a Gal To Do?
- Bring Toilet Paper: If you’re traveling through South America, you’ve probably already figured out there’s never any free TP in any bathroom. Toilet paper is a must, especially on very long hikes through the wilderness
- Wet Wipes Are A Gal’s Best Friend: Screw diamonds. Wet wipes are ESSENTIAL.
- Be Prepared: Even if you think you’re in the clear, throw a few extra tampons into your bag. You may not need it, but the poor American girl on your hike might. (…thanks to my hiking buddies, btw!)
- Bring Advil: If you don’t use it to fight cramps, you’ll probably use it to ease those sore muscles after four days of hiking.
- Cry: Okay I take that back. It’s probably just the hormones.
- Get Comfortable: If you’re not at a campsite, you’ll have to duck into the bushes to take care of things. If you are a campsite, there are no trash cans and they’re all squat toilets. Which brings me to my next point.
- Pack a Plastic Bag: … or dig a hole. There are no trash cans near or in the toilets at Machu Picchu until you’re actually at Machu Picchu. Along the Inka Trail, if you see one along the way, you’re lucky. Unfortunately as a woman that leaves you with two choices: dispose of your items in a plastic bag and carry it until you see a trash can, or get to digging.
It wasn’t all bad, it just required a bit of adjusting. I must say though, I have new respect for the women of the Inca Empire.
What about you? Any tips on how to cope that you want to share? Don’t be shy!