Before our big trek from one town to the next, we had to load the llamas. This was quite an experience. Our group gathered just below the school/clinic right after an early breakfast, and once again, watched a herd of llamas descend from the mountain sides. Up until that morning we assumed we’d all be carrying our own backpacks, but at the last minute we had the option of putting our gear on the llamas. I was a little worried about the long hike ahead, so I chose to relinquish my large pack and hike unencumbered. While we ate breakfast, the local llama handlers divided our gear into pack size bundles to distribute among the animals. They wrapped the gear in burlap sacks, woven blankets, and multicolored plastic. It made for vibrant bundles.
When the llamas marched in from the pastures, we held hands in a circle to create a barrier, and the local men expertly grabbed the llamas to load our supplies and packs. The llama personalities were in full force.
They are hilarious creatures at times. Soon enough, the team was wrangling along with the locals. The technique they showed us involved grabbing a chunk of wool on one side of their body and then also on the neck. A few of the bigger guys in the group got it down to a science. I could not have done it alone, but with a little help I did indeed wrangle a llama. Check that one off the bucket list. (Didn’t even know it was on the bucket list before it happened!)
I was particularly grateful for this fellow. He was a bit of a wild card, running off from the rest of the llamas a few times. But thankfully my pack arrived. Once the llamas were packed, we divided into groups. About half the llamas went first, then half the humans, then the other half of the llamas, and the other half of humans. The trek that followed was awe inspiring.