Pastor Jarvis from Tingo María had found out that Santos and I were going to Machu Picchu, so he called some people he knew who agreed to pick us up and set us up with accommodations if we agreed to visit their church in Santa Teresa and preach. I wasn't sure where the church was at, but I knew it would be a ways away from Cusco. Pedro, a church leader in Santa Teresa, met us in the airport and arranged for a taxi to take us to Santa Teresa. Although our last full meal was lunch the day before, we opted to hold off on eating until we were away from Cusco. Before long the three of us were piled into a car and heading north by northwest out of the city.
After about an hour and a half we stopped outside of Ollantaytambo for some lunch. It was here that our driver gave us some advice we neither understood nor followed. He explained that we would be heading high up into the mountains and come down the other side. He recommended we take something to sleep, but not having anything with which to knock ourselves out and wanting to see all that we could see, we politely declined the offer and loaded back into the car for what would be the worst drive of our lives.
It was not long before Santos, riding in the back, announced his intention of being sick. Our driver was neither surprised nor concerned. He instructed me to open the glovebox where I found a large stash of plastic bags. He then told me to pass one back to Santos. It seems he was used to this sort of thing, and he said that he felt sorry for people from the coast who had to take a trip into the mountains. At the end, he said, "Salen blanquitos," meaning they get out of the vehicle "very pale," and that in a country where most people have darker skin.
Santos became very sick, but somehow I managed to retain my afternoon meal for the whole trip. I even managed to record a few videos on my phone, not because I wanted to remember the trip, but because I feared we would soon careen off the edge of the mountain. The driver was passing vehicles while approaching blind turns, drifting from one lane to the other, and pushing 80km/hr in areas clearly marked for 30km/hr. If we didn't survive I hoped the footage would somehow make it back to my loved ones so they could understand how we ended up at the bottom of a ravine.
By the time we made it to the top of the mountain Santos had spent nearly all he had left. By this point we had made it to 4300 meters above sea level, almost 2.7 miles high. We saw a heard of llamas that would have been cute in almost any other venue but the one we were at, and we had to push through the cloud-covered road down the other side of the mountains.
Santos finally passed out, probably from exhaustion, and I even dozed off once or twice. We finally arrived at our destination around 6:15, giving us just enough time to settle into our room at a hostal, get our Bibles out, and head to the church so I could preach. Santos looked like a broken man, and I was so exhausted from the car ride, lack of sleep, and missed meals that I wasn't sure how well I would actually do preaching that evening.
We walked to the church where we met a small gathering of believers who were very excited to have us. After some singing, Santos and I were introduced, we greeted them, and I preached. I've never felt so weak and inadequate, but they received us warmly and thanked us for coming. By 11 pm we were back to our hostel. We were weak, tired, and humbled by the mighty hand of our God. And tomorrow we were getting up early to go to Machu Picchu. God would humble us even more before the trip was out, in ways we couldn't even anticipate.