Hi all! I promised a post about my recent trip to Peru so here it is, my last travel post for the summer. A week after my family and I returned home from Asia, I packed my bags again and headed off to South America with my dad. The destination was Peru for a four day hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and Cuzco was the starting point. We arrived in the city a few days before the hike so that we could acclimate to the altitude, and see a bit of the city before heading to the mountains. I was certain I’d get bad altitude sickness but surprisingly my body adjusted well with only some headaches and shortness of breath. Taking Dramamine and ibuprofen helped with any queasiness or headaches; the most important thing though, is keeping hydrated. Drinking lots of water and keeping caffeine intake low or cutting it out all together, helps curb symptoms of altitude sickness, especially feeling lightheaded and short of breath.
Cuzco was a beautiful city; the Spanish colonial architecture was beautiful, even though the history is actually quite sad, and the culture was really interesting. The people, the food, the music- it was all a really great experience. My camera was constantly in use, photographing random scenes around the city, capturing the unique people and buildings. It was also cool to be able to use some of the Spanish I know, outside of a classroom setting, and I came away with a little more confidence in my speaking skills.
On the third day, the company we booked the hike with, Alpaca Expeditions, picked us up from our hotel and we drove to the starting point with the 6 others in our group. We met David, our guide, and the porters who carried the equipment. The group comprised of a family from Amsterdam and a brother and sister from Argentina. The sister, Carolina, and I bonded over being the slowpokes of the group, and we, including her brother Lucas, became friends; video chat is now our form of communication. Everyone in the group was incredible and we all hit it off well. Over the course of four days, I climbed, walked and sweat more than I ever have in my life. It was hard and tiring and utterly amazing; I can’t put into words how incredible it was. Mountains have always been sacred to me, an environment where I feel most happy in, and being in the Andes, hiking an ancient trail, impacted me in a really deep and emotional way. There is something uplifting about reaching a summit and everywhere you look, there are mountains and nothing else. Just sky and mountains and quiet. And then to be able to share the experience with a group of people who come from different places and different backgrounds. Even more so, sharing those four days with my dad were some of the best days I’ve ever had. I don’t think he knows how much it meant to me. Our relationship hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I think the boat righted itself a little more, on that trip.
The moment when the group finally made it to Machu Picchu was a bit surreal; after four days of hiking, about 35 or so miles in total, it was crazy to actually reach the final destination. Our clothes were sweaty, fingernails dirty, legs tired, and there we were. It was incredibly rewarding and I’d say that although the site was a dream to visit, the hike was the best part. I could have hiked for a couple more days, and when we all had to say our goodbyes back in Cuzco, it was really hard. Spending four days sleeping, eating and walking together, brought us closer, from strangers to friends. And I was also sad to say goodbye to the trail; it was nice to be up there away from civilization, surrounded by the mountains and unplugged from daily life. Now, back home, I think of what that experience meant to me and something inside me fills up with an indescribable emotion. This whole summer has been amazing, from Bangkok to Bali to Peru and sadly, it was my last summer of traveling with the family since I’m in school and it’s getting expensive. But I’ve got plenty of years left to travel, and for the time being, I am grateful to have experienced all of these wonderful places and people.