Monday, November 19, 2012

PERU!

I have been pretty fortunate in my life to have taken some pretty incredible trips, and now I can add Peru to that list. It was everything I expected and so much more! The landscape is breathtaking, the history is rich, the crafts are beautiful, and the people are kind. Here is a summary of the trip I took there with my parents!

Sacred Valley: After landing in Cusco, we immediately headed down to the Sacred Valley to help adjust to the altitude and dig right in to their culture. We stopped at the main market in Pisac that was HUGE (and not even one of their big market days). After making several purchases (which then turned to be a major theme for the week), we got settled into our cozy hotel in Ollantaytambo to get a good night’s sleep before the next days activities. On our first full day in Ollaynta, we got a guide to take us through the Inca ruins right in the town. How they moved those HUGE rocks and carved them down to be so perfect I still don’t understand, but it was beautiful and impressive. The next day was one of my favorite activities of the trip. We visited the small mountain town of Patacancha, famous for their weavings. There were six of us tourists with a guide, and we sat down and learned about the weaving process while Andean women wove, caught up, and played with their children around us. And naturally, at the end, we came home with some amazing woven goods. I’ve learned that I love to get into the small towns to see how the real locals live, and get a real feel for their lifestyle.



Machu Picchu: Obviously, the highlight of the trip. We took the Inca Rail train deep into the valley until we arrived at Aguas Calientes (the town) around noon. After a quick stop in our hotel, we took the bus up the mountain to meet our guide, Kucho. A friend of my father’s had recommended him to us, and he didn’t disappoint! Machu Picchu was clearly a sacred place for him, and his love for it certainly rubbed off on us. As we hiked up the ruins, Kucho stopped us just before we reached the top. He had us hold hands, close our eyes, and he led us to the lookout point. Cheesy as it may be, it really made taking in the whole view pretty unbelievable. Taking it all in was pretty incredible. After all the classic photos, we continued our way through the ruins while Kucho described their significance. My personal favorite parts were their water system, sundial, and the rock sculpture formed to the shape of the condor.



The next day, we woke up super early to catch the first bus back up to the ruins. We had an 8:00 ticket to hike Huayanpicchu, and didn’t want to be late. As soon as the hike began, we knew it was going to be a long one. No matter how many insanity videos I did, nothing prepared me for the steep and narrow climb up the mountain. I will say though, that the views from the top made it totally worth it! Absolutely spectacular. After we climbed back down, Kucho led us to a more private part of the ruins to relax. Once my legs stopped shaking (ha), I was really able to take in the views. Machu Picchu is a truly beautiful place. Definitely a great 2 days spent there!




Cusco and Lima: Our stays in both these cities were brief, but good. In Cusco, we did more market shopping (shocker), visited the sun temple, and ate some delicious food! And in Lima, we relaxed along the waterfront watching the surfers, and of course sipped on some pisco sours. And don’t fret, I got plenty of starbucks in!

So what am I thankful for on this Thanksgiving week, you ask? For that amazing vacation, travelling the world, meeting new people, living in Paraguay, and my hammock. Hope you all have a fabulous holiday! I will be spending it poolside in Encarnacion with some fabulous volunteers!

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