The world of the Incas

Peru has been so long on my list of countries to visit and when I finally went, I can tell you I loved it! I have always been fascinated by the ingenious cultures of Latin America and I was not disappointed. Even nature wise, Peru has everything to offer and I was in awe during the whole trip!

I love traveling but what I struggle the most is the whole organizing part. So for this trip, I decided to go with a company called Travelbird, that organized everything for me. Obviously, I knew what I wanted to visit and I made sure it was included and if it wasn’t, there was always a way to still do it on the free days that were planned. I liked it because we weren’t in a group so we were pretty free and able to explore the different cities the way we wanted.

First step was Lima and from all the cities, that’s the one I visited less. Like most of the Latin American cities, you can find the same architecture due to the colonization and the little parks that looked so much like those in El Salvador. If I would go back to Lima I would definitely enjoy the food more. The food was delicious.

The next stop was Ica, Huacachina, and Nazca. Those were 3 quick stops, but with lovely surprises. Between the oasis in the desert, the good food (probably the best food I had in Peru), the Nazca Lines, and the nicest people! I was in admiration ALL THE TIME! This was so different from Lima. The tour on the dunes, sandboard, and the winery were definitely the highlight. the only thing that was missing was watching the sunset in the desert. I must say, that the cities of Nazca and Ica weren’t that interesting, when you go there it’s more about what’s surrounds the city, like the Nazca lines. Such an interesting story and the guide we had was one of the nicest people I met! He knew so much about the history of his country and the way he was telling it was fascinating. Funny story too, we ended up in a hotel that is held by a Belgian from Gent.

Then up to the white city, Arequipa. Apparently the city of food. Let me tell you something… unless you were going to trendy, more high-end restaurants, the food was good but not as fantastic as I expected. Might be because I didn’t really take the time to do some research, but when they tell you it’s the city of food I expect the food to be great everywhere… so yes note to self for next time: do some research beforehand. Other than that, what a city! The central place was gorgeous with the big cathedral and surrounded by all the arcades all in white stone with the beautiful view of the volcano (which I do not remember the name). Once you go into the little streets that surround the main square you would see tons of houses in different colours and with inside terraces, so cute. It’s definitely very different from Lima. I also visited some sort of museum and textile house where they explain how the alpaca wool is cultivated and how they use it. You could see traditional women knitting the wool into beautiful pieces of clothing.

The downside of that part of the trip was that we were only staying there a night. which made it impossible for us to climb the volcano, go to the Colca mountains, or to the rainbow mountain. I was bummed. But I try to enjoy it as much as I could.

From Arequipa, we took a bus to Puno, the city near Titicaca Lake! The highest lake in the world. I can still feel the excitement. I could also start feeling a headache. In Arequipa, we were around 2300m above the sea level. Honestly, I didn’t feel a thing, no headache, wasn’t out of breath and sleeping was going well. But in Puno, I could certainly feel the 3800m of altitude. That night I couldn’t sleep. The headache was intense. I wasn’t out of breath though so I decided to go for a walk in the city, mainly looking for a pharmacy. My travel partner was sick and the altitude wasn’t helping. Main goal: let’s try to find probiotics and coca leaves! I was told that those leafs really helped but the only thing I could find was candy. That didn’t help. For dinner we had soup, it was important for the body to adapt to the height by eating so light and drinking a lot of liquids. After a horrible night, it was time to visit the Lake! 2 main stops: the natural islands of the lake and the artificial islands.

On the natural island, Taquile, the people living there were still living and keeping the old traditions. I loved it, so peaceful. No stress of the modern world and a real sense of community. They cultivate their own food, weddings would last days, a doctor would only come on the island if the traditional cures wouldn’t work and the spoken language is Quechua. They showed us how they would do a traditional meal, how they find a partner, and how they dance. I loved every minute with them. And let’s not forget the beauty of the landscapes. ❤️

We took back the boat and ended on the next islands, the floating islands, Islas Flotantes de Los Uros. The sensation I got there is difficult to put into words but I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Let me try to explain. Those islands are made of an aquatic plant that floats on water. Each island has between 3 to 10 people living on the island and every I think 10-15 years they have to move to another island. Like the once in the Taquile island, they live through old traditions, which was interesting. Nevertheless, the only thing I could see was how dirty everything was. The kids and the family seemed happy and I liked seeing the girls playing, but I got that feeling were it just seemed fake, like a tourist trap. I was getting anxious, might have also been because of the horrible headache I was having because of the altitude. But I ended up going on the boat and waiting for the others to arrive. I was happy to have seen it, but I wouldn’t go back. No Señor.

Here is when we started what I think was my favorite part of the trip. Destination: Cusco. But to get there we did a whole trip through El Valle Sagrado. OH MY GOD. There are not enough words to describe the beauty of this trip. From Pisac to Ollantaytambo going through Andahuailillas where you could see the famous church all decorated in gold and walking around the cutest markets! The Inca ruins are amazing, I couldn’t get enough. They had such a peaceful lifestyle, with Mother Nature as the center of their beliefs. By the way, Mother’s Day is a huge celebration in Peru! They organize concerts and lots of activities and dancing. Loved it.

And Cusco! What a beautiful city! You could breathe the Inca culture everywhere! Even though you could definitely see the influence of the Spanish, the atmosphere was all about the Inca traditions! Can you feel my excitement? Oh, just thinking about it makes me happy! We arrived in the city in the evening, and even just in the evening it was kind of magical. I might be idealizing it, but I can tell you that it felt so peaceful walking around the little streets. I also had the best meal in Cusco. Grilled meat served on hot volcano stone! It’s was delicious.

The next day we went to Urubamba, in a gorgeous hotel surrounded by such a beautiful garden with all kinds of furs and vegetables and herbs. So peaceful. The reason we went there was because it’s closer to the rail station. We were taking the first train to Aguas Calientes at 5am in the morning. Guess where to?

Yes yes yes, Matchu Picchu Baby! My dream came true! That moment is engraved in my memory. The beauty, the story, the atmosphere everything is just worth it! Once I entered the domain I could feel all my annoyance of the hour before disappearing. For the little story, we went in with a guide but the guide was an hour late and then we were missing 2 people from the group. I was so annoyed, I could only think about what was on the other side of the entrance and those people were killing my vibe. But it went away so fast when I saw that famous view in front of me! And we were so lucky that there were not that many people and that the sun came out. You know, sometimes you can get disappointed when you idealize something for so long but I can tell you there was no disappointment only fascination. I just couldn’t stop looking. It was real and it has something so mysterious. If you ever get the opportunity I’m sure you will totally understand what I felt.

The last stops of the trip where the Salineras de Maras and Moray. The Salineras are salt mines near Cusco. Thousands of salt pools on a hill made during the Inca period. From a distance, the pools look like they are filled with snow. The pools get filled with saltwater and thanks to the sun the water evaporates and only the salt is left over. Moray is a place where you can see the terraces in a circle. They were also made during the Inca period as laboratories for agricultural research. I just love how the Incas are making use of the natural resources and how they feel the link with nature and the respect they have for it.

I learned a lot during this trip. I think that it was probably the start of a change. You see all those beautiful places, but what no one tells you, is that when you look at your feet you see tons of plastic bottles, trash everywhere. And the only thing I could think about is how can we destroy so much beauty with our actions. That’s when I decided I was going to start buying less plastic. Not easy, but I don’t want to be part of those people that destroy our planet. #noplanetb

I will not say it enough I loved every second of this trip. I would have loved to have more time in Cusco and Lima. Next time I will also do the north of the country. There are so many things Peru has to offer and I’m telling you, this is a trip that you will never forget.

Love,

Brenda

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