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. :)