Top Three To-Dos
- I think Kevin summed this up pretty well, but take the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with Llama Path. There’s no more fun and rewarding way to get to Machu Picchu than hiking, and Llama Path appears to be the standard of all of the groups on the trail, as far as guides and service go. Good food and an informative, funny guide make a big difference after long days of hiking. And ask for Marco.
- Go to Huacachina. I’ve never been to any place remotely like this oasis amidst the sand dunes. We were only there for two days and I was left with so many great lifelong memories (flying down sand dunes on a board, lunches at the Bamboo café, racing against Kevin over and over while trying to climb a dune, listening to Zhou’s frantic anticipation as we approached large dunes in the buggy, etc.)
- Have a chocolate milkshake at Jack’s in Cusco and the brownie and ice cream sundae at the Bamboo Café in Huacachina. For someone who doesn’t enjoy much dessert back home, I was blown away by the deliciousness of these treats in the southern hemisphere.
Top Three Don’t-Dos
- Lose the bottom half of your customs ticket. Apparently, you need it to leave the country. It only ended up costing $5 to get a new one, but it caused some minor, unnecessary worrying. So I guess it’s okay to lose your ticket, but if you do, don’t worry about it and just save up $5.
- Lose $5 high-quality American sunglasses on the flight over and buy Oakey’s (that’s right, Oakey’s) for 25 soles (roughly $9) in Cusco. One, they’ll break before you even put them on the first time, and two, Zhou will make fun of you, especially if you’ve criticized her bargaining skills. It appears that I wasted $14 on this trip, due to my own stupidity.
- Be a British lady named Charlotte who asks a lot of stupid questions with an annoying voice. That should rule out most of you, but just be wary if you are named Charlotte and from the UK (I hope she doesn’t read this blog).
Top Three Things I Learned
- Dad is in great hiking shape for his age (or even not for his age). There aren’t a lot of 50+’ers on the Inca Trail and for good reason. The hike is very strenuous. But not only did Dad knock it out without a problem, he was setting the pace for our group on the inclines. And we were the fast group.
- Kevin and Zhou are expert travelers. It’s nice to be able to go on a trip of this magnitude and not have to plan or worry about a thing. Not only did they do all of the research to make sure that we stayed at the safest and most friendly hostels, took the best and safest transportation, and had the most enjoyable and rewarding Machu Picchu experience, but they handled any communication issues we encountered along the way. For two people who have never studied a lick of Spanish, they had no problems navigating their way around a Spanish-speaking country. They put my three semesters of Spanish to shame.
- The Cincinnati Reds cannot lose on days that I don’t have internet access. When you have an unhealthy obsession for a sports team as I do, it’s always nice to come back from four days on the Inca Trail with a four-game winning streak. It’s just another reason for me to plan long vacations in remote locations.
Top Three Favorite Pictures From My Camera
- Total nights on trip to Peru: 10
- Nights spent on modes of transportation: 3
- Percentage of roads from Cusco to Ica that are winding: 99.9%
- Days waking up before 5:30AM on the first seven days of the trip: 5
- Days waking up before 5:30AM over the prior three years: less than 5
- Lunches at the Bamboo Cafe: 3
- Lunches at Chipotle: 0 (but I still didn’t miss home at all!)
- Combined number of times our guide Marco used the phrases, “Oh my Christmas” and “Wowie wow wow wow”: 46
- Consecutive nights without a shower (hopefully a record for me): 5
Summary of my trip in one sentence:
- As the famous saying goes, “The best trips are those spent with loved ones, but it doesn’t hurt to be in Peru.”
Picture of the Day: The faux-bunny strikes again. Pure evil.