My dear Beard,
Many people travel to Peru just because of the magical Machu Picchu. I was one of them.
But since I had arrived the country 3 weeks ago, I haven’t left my footprint on that famous landmark yet. I’m trying to make it slowly and giving myself more time to do something else. And “something else” is taking a road trip from Lima to Cusco for 7 days, instead of flying for just 1 hour. I had to give up my flight that I booked before and lost my money without regret. So far this is the best decision I’ve made in Peru!
I took a bus called Peru Hop which costs me 179 USD for the route from Lima to Cusco without the Lake Titicaca (I’ll do the lake after Cusco). The ticket covered all the journeys from Lima to Cusco, allowed me to hop on and hop off wherever and whenever I want. Nilo – the guide on the bus helped me to book accommodations and gave me tips on what to eat during the trip. There were many cool activities to do along the way: taking a boat to the island; visiting the historic tunnel; sandboarding in the desert; wine tasting; viewing the Nazca Lines from the tower, etc. Their pick-up and drop-off services also helped me to avoid unsafe local taxis and bus terminals.
The route: From Lima, we drove all the way to full south of Peru, made some cool stops in Paracas, Huacachina, Ica, Nazca, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, and finally made it to Cusco.
Peru is not only Machu Picchu. It has so much more to see, and I’m blown away by the beauty of this country. From the breathtaking scenery in the natural reserve area to the legendary snow-capped peaks of Andes mountains, from the oasis in the desert to the mysterious Nazca Lines, from the beautiful “white city” Arequipa to the stunning Colca Canyon, from the local people who still wear traditional clothing related to their ethnic background to the lovely alpacas and llamas, etc.
Passing and stopping by many cities, villages and small towns on the way, I’ve learned how important Catholic churches and family are to Peruvian people. I also saw some propaganda graffitis on the walls promoting for the next election campaign. I saw many pretty architectures, and ugly houses forever on progress. I saw some poor men who were working hard on the street, or women who were selling some handmade fabrics and souvenirs to make a living for their entire families.
There were 2 moments that touched me much:
- One morning in Chivay town, I saw a little girl and her baby llama were standing close to the market trying to earn some small soles by taking photos with tourists. The baby llama didn’t wear any “make up ” or accessories like other llamas in town in order to get people pay attention. Sometimes, the little girl hugged the llama like she was hugging a good friend of her. I can ever imagine how hey grow up together, play together, walk on the way home together and watch that incredible sunset over the mountains together. For many years to come, that little girl would all grow up and who knows how far she could go from her village. I hope she would carry out this friendship with the baby llama as the most precious childhood memory.
- Another morning on top of Colca Canyon, I was lucky enough to see the condors – the Andean bird, in action for the first time in my life. The rays of the morning sun began to evaporate the mist that shrouds the depths of Colca Canyon, which is known twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Suddenly, the condors with their giant charcoal wings rised on the morning thermals, soaring like an acrobat. They scour the surroundings, swooping lower and then higher, then lower again, in a roller-coaster direction.
I put my headphone on and played the classic Peruvian song “El Condor Pasa” . The condors appear flying on that sky symbolize the ideal of freedom – the freedom that I’ve always wanted to belong to.
“Away, I’d rather sail away
Like a swan that’s here and gone
A man gets tied up to the ground
He gives the world its saddest sound
Its saddest sound”
Also, there were 2 kinds of people that annoyed me:
- The fellow travelers on my bus to Colca Canyon kept complaining about everything during the trip. They are 20 somethings American who traveled to Peru, only paid 30 USD for the whole tour and asked for American standards, which didn’t make any sense. They even stopped talking and gave some dirty looks to a local man who was just walking on the street because they thought he would steal something from them. Sorry to all my nice American friends, but I feel bad for America to have those ugly kids. They need to learn some lessons to appreciate the differences of people and culture outside of America.
- The Asian tourists I met at the Monastery Santa Catalina in Arequipa didn’t respect the holy place enough. They talked and laughed so loud. They even stepped on some subjects there to take tons of selfie and pictures. I also feel bad for those people for their behaviors when travel abroad, specifically in the religious places.
But I’m so happy to make some really good friends on the road: Lara from Puerto Rico, Esther from France, Racheal and Dulcia from the USA. Those adventurous women who walked into these strange days of my life and have taught me something about living my life to the fullest.
Overall, it was a stress-free and independent adventure, which could be a highlight in my travels through this interesting and dangerous South America. I got to see the real Peru on the road without being stuck in touristy traps. I’m thankful for all the differences I’ve seen here and there when traveling, which previously unknown to me, yet have taught me so much about the meaning of this life.