Oh thank God. While we were eating breakfast (and I was internally freaking out about the morning climb), one of our porters came bouncing down (another very steep) hill with a little boy and a horse! I had a horse!
The climb up to the final camp was entirely uphill and HOT. My knee was throbbing, but the jarring from my leg hitting the horse was a far better alternative than limping up the last 10 kilometers.
Thanks to this trusty caballo, we reached our final camp early (about
10:30) had lunch (around 12) and settled in to wait for the bus to take us back to civilization. And we waited.
The bus didn't come until 2. Apparently, the driver encountered a landslide that delayed him for two hours (we saw it on the way back -- unreal). The porters kindly set up a tent for us to have siesta and avoid the sun, but we were eager to get back and get to a shower. It didn't matter though; the ride back to Cusco was about 6 hours -- so we were forces to rest whether we liked it or not.
We got back around 8, showered (sooo nice) and met up with my friend at an Irish pub. We didn't stay long as it was getting late and I had plans to say goodbye to Cusco that night.
I dropped Mike off at an Internet cafe and told him I'd meet him back at the hotel in a couple hours. I took my time walking around the square and the various side streets just soaking in my last evening here. I wanted to do this alone -- this city became a second home to me -- and it didn't feel right to just get in a taxi tomorrow and head to the airport.
So I said goodbye. I'll still have tomorrow morning, but I'm glad I was able to savor one last enchanting night.