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Andes to the Amazon.

I think that, perhaps, the most amazing thing about travel is perspective. When you spend so much time in one place, especially when that place is part of a very steadfast routine, it is easy for your world to become a very small place. Even when you flit in and out of it, the walls become very defined, finite. When you travel somewhere so far out of your comfort zone, your realm of experience, your ability to imagine, it can't help but leave a mark.

Going to Peru was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It's a place I've been drawn to for years, something that has become a recurring theme in my life which has just become stronger as time goes by. When things fell into place and allowed us to go, I was thrilled. I really didn't know what to expect so I left without real expectations and just surrendered myself to the experience that presented itself. I'm beyond glad that I did.

I have heard people (ones that have traveled the world for much of their lives) tell me that if you could pick one destination and no other, to go to Peru. The country has just about everything - from deserts to snow-capped mountains, huge metropolises to the most remote areas in the world, complete with uncontacted native tribes. Cities, culture, rainforest, wildlife, history, architecture, cuisine. Everything with its very own unique flavor.

It is impossible to really do my trip any justice by trying to describe it. Mbala took almost 2000 photos and I will post a bit of a narrated visual blog once we've sorted through those, but for the most part I don't have a lot to say about my trip except that it was incredible and I'm really glad that I went. A lot of it, for me, was about taking a leap of faith, letting go, and learning to relax. To open your mind and self to life and everything that it means, including it's extremes. Pushing yourself to the limits and enjoying the ride.

We spent a week traveling in Manu; a part of the reserve area of the world's most pristine tract of rainforest where less than a thousand visitors a year pass through. I had the intense privilege of seeing a mating pair of wild jaguars. We walked through the jungle at night and saw scorpions, tarantulas, birds, bugs, monkeys, and all sorts of amazing creatures. We watched giant otters circle their lake and make unearthly, mournful cries. I found wild tagua and was able to drink from the ripening plant.

We did what seemed like a million other things, and culminated our journey hiking the four days from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. It was a grueling hike, with thin mountain air 14,000 feet up, past tiny villages living on the edge and the bones of people who had died on the trek. The journey itself was even more powerful than the spectacular ending - entering the 'lost city' via the Sun Gate and getting to sprawl in the grass at the incredible ruins.

I am back home now, thankful for the experience and the changes it brought into my life. Slowly getting myself back into a normal work schedule, less stressed and more determined.

Pictures soon, I promise. :)


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 4th, 2010 09:15 pm (UTC)
I miss Peru! Come visit me when I move!!

Also, I have Rive's email/facebook info for you for when you're on next. :)
May. 6th, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
Yes, I need his facebook (and are you going to finally get one??). We will totally be on your doorstep when you move down there. ^.^
May. 4th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
It sounds like an incredible trip! I'm SO happy you got to go and that it was an amazing experience for you!

I'm excited to see photos and hear more about it :)
May. 5th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
I'm really looking forward to your pictures! You've really inspired me to travel more. I'd be really scared to travel outside of the more familiar "western world", but I'm sure it's a lot less scary than folks make it out to be, yes?
May. 6th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC)
You know what a homebody I am, but I really do love to travel. I didn't really find Peru scary at all - I felt massively less safe in L.A. or NYC than I did any time in Peru. I think a lot of it depends massively on where you go - Cuzco (where we were based out of) has most of its economy dependent on tourism and has a really positive attitude towards travelers. There are police and security around all over watching the streets and it never felt unsafe/scary, on the contrary it was really welcoming. I've researched a lot of places around the world - some sound like they're quite similar to this and others are the polar opposite.
May. 5th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
I am so happy you were able to go!
May. 5th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
May. 5th, 2010 05:42 am (UTC)
Wow. Peru has been on my list for a long time too. I only hope I can get the funds together sometime to go. Did you o it all on your own, or did you have a guide/tour planner etc?
May. 6th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
We did something kind of in between - we went with a Peruvian travel agency based in Cuzco and planned the trip through them. They made sure travel (flights in the country, taxis, busses, etc.) were on schedule and secure, made everything come together flawlessly, and coordinated most of our trip, but we saved a ton of money vs. going with a U.S. based/general touristy company.
After crunching numbers this ended up being the smartest thing to do - if we had done it ourselves completely we would have actually had to pay more since much of the fee we paid to the travel agency was for permits (national parks, inca trail, etc.) or travel cost (planes, boats, etc.) and they got us a very discounted rates on hotels/lodges they had deals with. They also covered a lot of the meals and made the entire trip totally stress free. I would highly recommend them (SAS travel Peru). :)
May. 5th, 2010 06:08 am (UTC)
Sounds wonderful, can't wait to see pictures!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )