Two weeks I spent in Peru, venturing from the lowest flatland of the coast in Lima, to the ultra-humid jungles of an eco-lodge in the Tambopata National Reserve, to a mountain peak of 4,215m (13,828 ft) over Dead Woman’s Pass as I hiked the Inca Trail towards Machu Picchu. I ate guinea pig and alpaca. I endured days of 43% less oxygen than at sea level as the four days on the trail took their toll. And I loved every freaking minute of it. Even the dying part.

Story/Script

SCENE ZERO  

(hook/intro)

(Outside with heavy foliage behind me, looking like a war survivor) 

(Roll some footage of me looking tired and running hands through hair, like McDonalds.  Voice over until steps) 

I wasn’t ready.  The very first moments of that first day on the Inca Trail absolved me of any belief that I was going to make the trek.  It was just … one step … and then another … until turning back simply wasn’t an option. 

(open)

(CAM-ONE – Sit into frame on the sofa, lean forward, still tired – Music is somber, scary, threatening)  

Back in 2012 I went to Peru.  I ventured from the humid jungles of an eco-lodge on the Tambopata river, to a 14k’ mountain peak called Dead Woman’s Pass as I hiked the Inca Trail towards Macho Picchu.  

(voice over)

(Snaps of cui and a b-roll of alpacas)

📍  I ate guinea pig.  I ate alpaca.  I somehow endured less than half of the oxygen that’s at sea level as the trail took its toll on my health.

(Look up and smile playfully, music cuts)  

And I loved every freaking minute of it.  Even the dying part.

———

SCENE ONE  (Cam-2)

(Setup)

(B-roll transition showing jungles, with a title popping up – Welcome To The Jungle)

(Music through out is all general Andes-sounding)

(wide shot)

(Snapshots of the three things I mentioned beside my head in frame, vertically)

But before we hit the trail, let’s start with bullet ants, tarantulas, and a cute little raccoon-like critter called a coati.  

(voice over)

(Series of b-roll and snapshots.  Don’t forget movement on the stills)

📍  The adventure started with a trip into the Tambopata National Reserve.  As in, a long, rattling drive to the Tambopata river in a rickety van, and then a two hour boat ride in one of those narrow giant canoe-like things with a motor.  On a river filled with caimans (their version of an alligator) and these giant rat like things that are actually pretty adorable.

(wide shot)

Our eco-lodge was well off the beaten path.  An in, no utilities.  They had generators for cooking and the main lodge, but it was all turned off in the early evening.  

(music stops, punch in)

Now I’m not going to dwell much on this part of the adventure, because honestly … it wasn’t all that.  Interesting, sure.  But have you ever slept under a mosquito net in one million percent humidity with absolutely no air movement?  With the sounds of the jungle screaming in your ears?  It’s an experience, but not something you really want a week of.

(close up, looking evil … in a fun way)

But I mentioned bullet ants and large hairy spiders, didn’t I?  

(voice over)

(b-roll of spiders and ants)

📍  Bullet ants are these nasty things that you do not want to get attacked by.  Apparently the feeling is like being shot … and the pain doesn’t fade quickly.  We avoided them, even when our helpful jungle guide took us directly to them for show and tell. 

(start with wide shot)

Our guide was raised in the jungle and he was actually a hoot.  They don’t have real pets out there, so they play with tarantulas.  Seriously.  He saw a little hole, grabbed a small branch with a leaf on the end, and started teasing the spider in its nest.  That hairy sucker … the spider, not the guide … kept popping out as he was being tickled, and I swear to god I think they both enjoyed the game.

I actually did enjoy the week in the jungle.  It was so unlike anything I had ever done before.  But the real reason for the trip … was to hike the Inca Trail.

———

SCENE TWO  (CAM-ONE)

(Need a b-roll transition showing the hike, with a title popping up – I Hated Machu Picchu)

Did you catch the title in the transition?  It’s true, I actually hated Machu Picchu.  Absolutely hated it.  But I’m going to make you wait for the reason, because you really need to know what happened before that in order for it to make any sense.

(voice over)

(Snaps of the trail and the start)

📍  The trek is four days of hiking, sleeping in tents along the way.  It is not a groomed trail.  It is not level.  And it is at an altitude that carries no oxygen in the air.  Which is a grand place to begin.

(wide shot)

I trained for months in the gym, all to no avail.  I should have done so with a sock in my mouth.  At the highest point in the hike … 14k’ … there was only 43% of the oxygen that I had at sea level the week before.  Less than half.  And I was exerting myself like I had never done before.

(voice over)

(Show maps of the hike, fading into each other)

📍  The first day is called Inca Flat, meaning it … undulates.  Undulate meaning you’re going up and down thousands of feet, over and over.  And they called that day … acclimation.  The second day they simply called …

(Punch in tight)  

Pure hell.  

(start wide)

(title with Warmiwañusca)

I need to spend some serious effort on this day, because it’s actually the crux of the whole trip, and it deserves the time.  Day Two is … challenging.  This was the highest peak at 14k’ and it’s called Dead Woman’s Pass.  I can’t pronounce it’s real name, sorry.  But it’s not a casual incline.  It feels straight up.

(close up)

This is the point in the hike where you have to make a decision.  Go forward, or go back.  Because once you’re over that peak, there is no reversing.  The only real outlet for you is to complete the hike.  I honestly went to bed that first night trying to figure out how to tell my wife I couldn’t make it.  But I did … barely.

(voice over)

(B-roll of the hike)

📍  You start in the wee hours of the morning.  There is one stop for lunch, and basically you spend all day moving forward, up, and over.  I have never in my life done anything so difficult.  I was dead last in the group.  Shuffling.  As in, slide one foot forward.  Rest.  Slide, rest.  And it’s not just the going up that steep slope, oh no.  Once on top, you have to go down the same steep decline, killing different parts of your legs, all the while wondering why you can’t breathe.

(close up)

Oh, and on top of Dead Woman’s Pass?  It started sleeting, so we had that joy going down.

(start wide)

When I finally got to the tent site … about an hour after the rest of the group … I didn’t even make it to my tent.  As soon as I saw the camp, I simply dropped to the ground.  Stayed there for a solid 30 minutes, unmoving.  I couldn’t.  Simply couldn’t have walked a single more step.

(close up) 

Sounds like a crap trip, right?  I remember virtually nothing about days one and two except for pain and misery.  But day three brought me something else.

———

SCENE THREE  (Desk)

(Need a b-roll transition showing the hike, with a title popping up – It Got Better)

(start wide)

Day three also has a steep peak.  12k’ to be specific.  But something happened to me.  It was raining when the day started.  Cold, cold rain.  But I was happy.  Either because of hypoxia, or because I had no other choice.  

(close up)

Where the day before I was plodding around like a Parkinson’s patient, this day I was literally running.  And laughing out loud.  The downslope of that mountain was so slippery.  People were falling left and right … and I just ran as fast as I could. 

(voice over)

(Snaps of “not” Machu Picchu)

📍  Where on Day Two I was dead last, on this day I beat everyone.  I went off and explored ruins by myself while I waited at the campsite.  It was glorious.  And it continued through the next day right up until we got to the Sun Gate and peered down on Machu Picchu.

(close up)

And that’s where the hate begins.  

(wide)

There were 12 of us.  We stank.  We were tired.  But together we had done something amazing.  We had earned the view we were now staring at in awe.  And so we walked together down the path into the city proper.  

(Music stops!)  

(close up)

And then we smelled them.

(voice over)

(Find lots of b-roll and tourists wandering around)

📍  Machu Picchu is actually a large city.  Abandoned on top of a mountain.  But there is a road leading to it, and tour buses abound.  These … hikers … are everywhere.  And by that I mean, they have hiking poles and hiking garb.  They’re posing for pictures like they just finished an expedition.  And they also smelled washed and perfumed.  They were 1000% complete posers!  

(close up)

WE HAD EARNED THIS!  They didn’t.  

(wide)

(rolls into final 20 seconds, so hold the shot)

That was all I could think.  We had been alone, just the 12 of us and our porters for a week, and we wanted this to ourselves.  Or to share it with others who had made the trek.  These tourists who were pushing us out of the way, all while crinkling their noses at our lack of hygiene?  They didn’t deserve to be there with us.  To a person, we all wanted to turn back around and re-enter the trail.

So yea, I hated Machu Picchu.  I loved the flush toilets, because I hadn’t taken a dump without squatting over  a hole in days.  But the ruins along the trail were more precious to me than … well, you get the idea.  Sometimes what you feel as misery in the moment, becomes your greatest memory in the future.  And I actually did love the trail.  See you next time.

———

This needs to be similar to Strasbourg in that it’s a travel memory video.  And I didn’t bring a video camera.  Might need to mention that.

I envision it opening by showing a montage of things beautiful, some b-roll with voice under, but not long, and very enticing.  Intriguing.  Maybe even mention cuy.  And then a quick cut to me with a one line hook.  Open, and then me setting it up with Two weeks in Peru, from Jungle to the highest point in Machu Picchu.  And everything in between.

A transition happens then, rolling specific jungle footage for 3 seconds with my voice coming up.  Telling the basics about the place.  Describing these things which snapshots/b-roll fill the void.

  • The heat and humidity, no electricity, mosquito netting
  • Jungle at night and bullet ants and spiders.  The loudness.  Tucking in pants to socks.  Make it scary.
  • Bananas, Caimans, Coatis.
  • Only a week, and honestly not worth the airfare all by itself.

Then another similar transition to the hike.

  • Altitude and training
  • The basics of the trail, what it looks like, the porters, the steepness of the steps, coca leaves suck
  • Inca Flat
  • Me being dead last, Parkinson steps, once over dead woman’s pass I was committed
  • How on day three, either by lack of O2 or otherwise, I went full speed giddy
  • How on day last I hated Machu Picchu.
  • Finish with the tale of the toilets

Quick transition.  Me talking head about it being a long lost memory.  Physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  The monkey steps.  But knowing there was also so much more.  Colonial towns, little nothing villages that were still incredible.  The fun of Cusco and the absolute dislike of the ever present hawking.  But so worth it. 

———

Use Storyblocks to tell the tale, along with my own photos.  Jungle, Machu Picchu, food.  Altitude.   It all starts with what I can download.  Write the story around that.

What are the big conflicts?  

  • The name of the big mountain and me wondering who was going to recover the body?
  • Bullet ants and sheer heat
  • What is the world will Guinea Pig taste like?

The thumbnail could be about O2 depravation?  The Monkey Stairs?  Maybe one of my photos where I look dead?

One response

  1. I wish I had brought a video camera with me on that trip but … in 2012 it would have been way too heavy to drag over the mountains. But still, the hike deserves better than a simple memory tribute video. I do highly recommend doing this. It’s one of those things that you hate in the moment, but cherish forever.

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