Trip of a lifetime; Peru

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.

 After about 21 hours of travel, Alex and I arrived in Cusco early morning.  When on one of our flights, I saw something I'd never seen before.  It was about dusk and the sun was setting on one side of the plane and the moon was rising on the other side.  It was the most amazing things I've ever seen from a plane!  A few hours after we had landed, we realized Alex wasn't adjusting to the altitude as he had expected.  He spent most of the first day in bed.
 The place we stayed at was one we'd found on AirBnB (our usual preference for finding lodging), owned by a man and his wife, Carlos and Jackie.  It was a really neat building situated right near the Plaza de Armas.

 The Plaza de Armas is really beautiful and has some neat old churches around it. 
 Lots of the buildings in Cusco have really ornate wooden balconies.  They were gorgeous
 The streets in Cusco are very narrow and steep.  Sometimes you see cars coming down them and you just can't believe they fit!
 Alex and I ate at a pizza joint, La Bodega 138, that had the best pizza I've ever had!  And they had Peruvian craft beer so Alex was happy
 Walking the stairs in the city is very humbling.  Because of the altitude, you get winded really quickly.

 The mountains surrounding Cusco are incredible
 It's even more beautiful at night when you can see the hills lit up.

Hot chocolate is very common in Cusco.  It is typically served unsweetened.  Other common foods include lomo saltado (a beef stir-fry of sorts), cuy (guinea pig), quinoa, tamales, polenta, etc.

Continue reading for day 2...


Kelly Anne said…
Marley, I feel the same way about vacations! I can't WAIT to see the rest of your photos.
Marie Withrow said…
Gosh, I can't imagine anyone thinking this would not be a fabulous, once in a lifetime vacation!!! So glad you were able to do it and made it to Machu Picchu!!! Love all the photos.