Alex and I just returned from a 10 day trip to Peru. This is a trip I've been wanting to take since the 7th grade. I had started Exploratory Spanish and learned about Machu Picchu. From that moment on, I knew some day I had to make it there to see it for myself.
I've gotten a bit of flack from some who simply can't understand why someone would consider this a "vacation". I'm a firm believer that it's important to challenge yourself not only mentally but physically. Had I not tried, I wouldn't have known I could do something like hiking up to 15,100ft with my pack on my back. The majority of our trip was hiking around Salkantay Mountain, where the altitude makes every step significantly harder. Physically it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I was exhausted and mentally tired but reaching the Salkantay Pass after all that hard work was incredible. I felt so accomplished.
When I explained what my trip entailed, most people responded, "that doesn't sound like a vacation at all. I'd rather be sitting on a beach". While I occasionally (well, maybe rarely) enjoy laying on a beach, I feel most beaches are the same. If I'm taking time off work I want to see something completely new. Life is short and I want to experience all I can...I want to experience other cultures and put myself in positions that might challenge my comfort-level. You see, after doing something like that you realize how easy it is to become complacent and then you appreciate the little things at home so much more. You suddenly see how lucky we are (in the US) to have drinkable tap water pretty much everywhere and most of us have warm beds to sleep in. I spend so much time sitting at a desk that getting out and hiking/camping for 5 days is a great vacation for me! I can, and do, lay around at home plenty. I know most people don't agree and that's OK. I'm going to share with you my experience. I will probably break this into different sections. I'll start with Cusco first.
Continue reading for day 2...