But anyway, I really enjoyed this trip. There were many ups and downs, but more ups than downs. I have spent many trips visiting big cities across Europe and Asia, so this time I wanted something a little different. I wanted to get away from the city, to someplace that was completely new to me. Obviously, Peru isn't exactly uncharted territory, but it most certainly satisfied my craving for an adventure.
I'm not going to go on a day-to-day account of what I did/where I was, because that would be stupidly boring to read. But in a nutshell, we flew from Seattle, to Houston, to Lima, then to Cusco. We spent a couple of days in Cusco first, before taking a bus to Ollantaytambo. From there we rode on a train to Aguascalientes, which is a small village/town right near Machu Picchu, which we hiked around for a day. After that, we then made our way back to Cusco, spent another day there, then flew to Lima, spent a half day there, and flew home via Houston. I just came home this morning! Traveling is so exhausting. Writing about traveling is so exhausting.
But wow! It felt like I had stepped onto a different planet, or even time period. Everything was just so different. There were very few things that reminded me of home. No chain stores, no McDonald's, no similar language, landscape, zilch! The lack of familiarity was a bit nerve racking at first, but later became thrilling. I came here to see something new, and I got exactly what I wanted.
The differing culture was the most fascinating thing of all, as it was nothing like mine. While Lima was more Spanish influenced, Cusco/Aguascalientes/Machu Picchu was definitely more native. I constantly saw people wearing traditional clothing, eating/serving traditional food (including Cuy! Everywhere), and overall preserving the pre-Spanish culture. It was as if the whole place was preserved in time. It definitely felt ancient. Well, it was ancient.
omfg it's ME! And I've got no arms!
Of course, the highlight of the trip was visiting Machu Picchu. Even though it is a very frequently visited and huge tourist attraction, it still felt...incredibly isolated. I mean, just getting to the place was a long and arduous journey, which took us literally in the middle of nowhere. Looking around the top of the mountain, you can barely see any other sign of civilization. All you see is wilderness. This feeling, paired with the fact that you were thousands of feet up in the mountains and practically touching the sky, made for an incredibly exhilarating, yet haunting experience. No wonder why the Incans chose to live up here.
Another thing that really struck me about Peru was the night sky. Never in my life have I seen so many stars! In Seattle, you can't even see the sky itself half the time, as it is covered with clouds. There's also the gratuitous amounts of light pollution just from being in the city. You hardly see any stars around here. When I first got off of the train in Aguascalientes, I looked up into the sky to take in my surroundings, and my jaw dropped down to the ground. The sky was gorgeous, completely littered with stars. It was a breathtaking sight indeed. Definitely not something you can see in the city.
This trip was like trying out a new dish. You cook the same shit over and over again, and you get sick of it. So you try out a new recipe that your friend recommends to you. You like it. You really like it. You want to re-experience it over and over again. This is what going to South America feels like. I'm definitely coming back for more. Next time, maybe...Iguazu, perhaps? I'm open to suggestions ;)