Land of the Incas

Peru

We were going to be on another continent in less than a day, but not even this reminder could keep boredom away after enduring a 27-hour plane delay. UNO was the only thing keeping my group from crashing. I looked out the window to witness the Texas sunrise awakening. How much longer would we have to wait? At last, hours later, we started boarding the plane. It was finally time to begin our journey to Peru.


After our delay, everyone was anticipating stepping foot on the plane to San Salvador. I was especially eager for this trip. After studying the unique adventures we would encounter, I didn't want to waste another second upon arrival.


I wish we had had enough time to explore the hundreds of historic areas hidden in Peru, but we only encountered three of them. Each destination was beautiful in its own way. I recommend exploring them if you ever get the opportunity to visit this remarkable country!


statue of Christ looking over Cusco, Peru

Sacred Inca Valley:


The Sacred Inca Valley is a place where history comes alive. Before visiting, I thought we would be diving straight into exploring the ruins. Instead, we started by learning about Ollantaytambo, a village set on the Urubamba River. Every street was crowded with shops, and although the rough, cobblestone streets bruised everyone's feet, the pain didn't slow anyone down.


While visiting Ollantaytambo, I was awestruck by the way Peruvians live. Everywhere I looked, I saw people working to survive. Since Peru is a well-known travel site, citizens, young or old, use this to their advantage. Hundreds of shops were set up, and items were sold to any interested tourist.


As I walked along the cobbled streets and bargained for an alpaca stuffed animal, I wondered what it would be like to live in Peru. My question was soon answered after visiting a traditional home that had been passed down from generation to generation. When I entered the house, I saw the stone walls covered in ceremonial and religious items. From an ancestor's skull displayed on a shelf to handcrafted rugs splayed across the dirt floor, every piece was brought together to create a meaningful space for the owner.


After learning about their way of life, we continued our tour to the well known ancient ruins of the Sacred Inca Valley. Climbing five hundred terraces is one thing, but walking on an unprotected ledge over 500 feet above the ground is another. The thrill of this endeavor overcame the fear in me. I enjoyed living life at one of its highest moments (and I mean that quite literally).


I learned tons about this historical site and, honestly, I could have stayed there forever to discover more about the Incas history and culture.


looking down on Ollantaytambo from the Sacred Inca Valley

Machu Picchu:


After touring the Sacred Valley, we had enough courage mustered up to hike to Machu Picchu, standing 7,972 feet off the ground. Though, I don't think anything could have stopped me from entering one of the most historical mysteries of all time. Being introduced to one of the 7 Wonders of the World was my favorite part of this grand trip. It blew me away just by appreciating where I was, acknowledging who used to live there, and learning of the mysteries they left behind for us to marvel.


Unlike the Sacred Inca Valley, it took two buses, a train, and lots of walking to reach the best location to overlook Machu Picchu. Still, it was definitely worth the effort. We could not only see the ancient ruins, but also the beautiful, protective mountains surrounding us. After another hour of walking, we finally made it to the Land of the Incas. We each had the option to continue our tour, or explore this ancient site ourselves. Of course, I chose the latter. We split up and off I went, past the agricultural sectors, to the guardhouse, around the Temple of the Sun, through the Plaza, up to the Sacred Rock, and then all the way back to the beginning. Everything was made from the building blocks of the Incas, stone slabs, and although they are called ruins, nothing seemed damaged. If anything, the buildings have become more sturdy over the years.


Machu Picchu astounded me and became my favorite destination instantly. Getting there made me feel a bit topsy turvy, but, in the end, it was all worth the adventure.


climbing Machu Picchu

Lake Titicaca:


Imagine building a small island. Now imagine that you were given the responsibility of rebuilding this island every two weeks, for the rest of your life. This is a snippet from the life of the Uru people, who live on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. Most of their building materials, diet, and medicines revolve around the Totora reeds that grow in the lake. The Uru people not only rebuild their island and boats every two weeks, but they also make their own clothing, catch and grow their own food, and, most importantly, keep their traditions alive.


At island #1, we listened to each family's story, danced, shopped at their mini-island market, tried on the traditional clothes, and sang together. They taught us one of their native songs and, in return, we taught them Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.


About twenty minutes away rested island #2, which we reached by sitting in a reed boat, watching the islanders paddle us along. When I arrived, I snacked on a delicious piece of sweet, honey-like bread. The things these brilliant people come up with! After filling my mouth with a flavor I could only dream of, we hopped on our boat to visit Taquile Island, about an hour and a half away.


Upon reaching our 3rd stop, my eyes were blessed at the sight of the massive beauty we were approaching. Kids in bright colors were playing, women with gorgeous, silky hair were at work creating masterpieces, and, after a hard days work, the men were preparing everyone for our visit. Even the island itself seemed to be dressed up for the occasion. As soon as we stepped foot on the deck, we were greeted with warm hugs, handshakes, smiles, and traditional music.


Lunch came with a delicious smell in the warm air, and I was given an unforgettable meal of quinoa soup, some bread, an omelet, rice, potatoes, and an Inca Cola. I didn't even have time to finish my food before a new adventure was born. I was waved down by my friend and was asked to meet the island kids with her. I followed, and we found them by the shore playing with each other. After introducing ourselves, a little girl led us up boulders alongside the island. About fifty feet off the ground, we landed on a dirt path. I turned around to the gorgeous scenery of a calm ocean, giant mountains, and distant islands, and this is how I got to end my journey on Lake Titicaca.


Lake Titicaca

Each place I visited came with the thrill of excitement. I arrived in South America hoping to leave with an unforgettable journey. Peru granted my wish and more. During this once in a lifetime trip, I was introduced to a whole new world. After leaving South America, I was reminded to show kindness, stay positive, and keep a grateful spirit. ❤️


parade in the streets of Cusco

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