Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Joe's Summary

Everybody should take this trip sometime in their lives. Peru is a remarkably beautiful country. The people are kind and resilient. The music was moving. The experiences we had were memorable and meaningful (not like the plastic virtual experiences you have at an amusement park or at some orchestrated gala event). The trip was affordable--the prices of everything (food, lodging, tours, transportation etc.) are reasonable enough that we did it all for about $1500 per person including the airfare (that doesn't include the souvenirs which some of us overspent on just a little).
video
(this is the coolest video I took on the trip)

While I can guarantee you breathtaking beauty and thought provoking experiences if you take this trip, one of the things that made our trip so memorable you'll just have to bring with you...great travelling companions. As with any trip we had mishaps and mayhem galore. There were also long stretches of plane time, bus time, train time, and airport time (not enough sleep time I should mention). There was every opportunity for us to get crabby or impatient and start sniping at each other. Instead we laughed. We found humor in the most unlikely places and enjoyed the good-natured ribbing, jokes, and goofy antics (we sort of embodied the credo "you can't keep from getting old but you can be immature forever"). Dad was patient with us all but even he cracked a smile now and then. Our guides and drivers picked up on the mood and dished out as much as they took (e.g. Ofelia taught us that the Quechua word for pig was "cuchi-cuchi" and later, after we had exhausted her with all the pig jokes we could think of, she registered our group at the restaurant as the "cuchi-cuchis").

Speaking of guides and drivers, none of this marvelous trip would have been possible without the whole team at Lamanita Travel (http://www.peruexperience.net/, lamanita@terra.com.pe, Phone: 51-84-227151, Mobil: 51-84- 984683132). Cesar and his team were unbelievably efficient, helpful, dedicated, and just plain fun! They got us better prices than we could get ourselves, made great recommendations, and got us out of trouble (e.g. at one point the train returning from Machu Picchu was stopped by a random landslide--they found out about it and sent a bus to pick us up at the next station). We spent the most time with Ofelia (the guide that took us to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley), and with David (the driver who was with us the whole time) and they became like family. Cesar and his team at the agency were the consummate professionals and were just good folks (e.g. they volunteer time and resources to help the poor indigenous people of the mountain regions).
The indomitable Ofelia.

David fooling around with a top hat and cane we found at the restaurant in Moquegua.

We were also favored with many miracles and tender mercies of a loving Father in Heaven. Just as an example even the feeble among us had the energy to make the trip. Also our health problems were generally allayed while we were there (e.g. my brother-in-law Hugh's gall-bladder attach waited until he got back home where his doctors could help him).

Finally, I loved the sense I got of the place where I was born. I loved the people, the animals, the music, the food, and the weather. I came away feeling Peruvian at last. I found another place that I feel connected to and consider "mi tierra" (my land).

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