By Dervla Murphy
The 8 ft belong to Dervla Murphy, her nine-year-old daughter Rachel and Juana, a sublime mule, who jointly clambered the size of Peru, from Cajamarca at the border with Ecuador, to Cuzco, the traditional Inca capital, over 1300 miles to the south. With in basic terms the main simple must haves to maintain them and spending so much in their time above 10,000 ft, their trip used to be marked by way of severe soreness, occasional possibility or even the transitority lack of Juana over a precipice. but mom and daughter, an impressive duo, have been unflagging of their sympathetic reaction to the perilous good looks and impoverished humans of the Andes.
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Extra info for Eight Feet in the Andes
We were now down to about 6,000 feet and amidst such aridity the afternoon heat was stifling. The river-bed, if you can call it that, had become rocky, rather than stony and was broken by countless awkward little gullies, full of that malign bush with the fish-hook thorns. There was no way of avoiding those gullies, unless we turned back. I was relieved to find that turning back is against Rachel’s principles – it seemed only fair to give her the option – so we struggled on, bloody and sweaty, in what I assumed to be the direction of the road.
It looked very sore and we knew we couldn’t put the bridle back so we just left the problem until we had been refreshed by our drinks. ’ We continued up the humid, well-irrigated valley between thriving crops of barley, wheat, potatoes, maize, sugar cane, bananas, alfalfa. I bought another eight kilos for Juana’s supper and tied it behind the saddle, much to her frustration. Despite this fertility the inhabitants look puny and ill-nourished and there were no pueblos, only scattered dwellings or small groups of hovels.
A freak wind roared up the funnel of the gorge, moaning most strangely through the structure of the bridge. Juana was appalled. The unnerving noise, the unfamiliar glinting metal, the rattling of the boards when I went ahead to coax her – everything about this monstrosity justified a mule being mulish. We surveyed the terrain, confirmed that the bridge was a must and blindfolded Juana – to no effect. Then we unsuccessfully attempted to back her onto the boards; if she could once be induced to set foot upon them all would be well.
Eight Feet in the Andes by Dervla Murphy