The Avianca flight to Lima felt faster than it actually did. Peru seemed to be the perfect choice for the beginning of my journey. Although I was entering a new country, it was terrain not entirely unfamiliar to me. In Cuba I ate Peruvian food, danced to the same music. I suppose, much like Europe, there is a lot in South America that we share with one another.
No more talk of Cuba. The promise of Peru’s picturesque landscapes and ancient ruins excited me. I looked forward to eating heartily, walking and hiking my heart out. I know I have not given the impression of someone athletic so far, and frankly I do expect a bit of physical exertion on this excursion. Without going into too much detail, I did get full approval for this trip from my doctor, and have been put on alert for altitude sickness, among other things. I am confident I am ready for Peru’s dizzying heights, but more importantly, I am seeking out a more physically active, healthier, happier me for the next few months.
There is one destination I had been looking forward to when I started planning this trip, heck, even when I was still a kid: A tour of Camino Inka, or the Inca Trail . This ancient four to five-day route through the Andes mountains crosses three trails and various elevations and ruins, culminating in the greatest and highest of them all; Machu Picchu. We all grew up reading about the Incas in books, watching movies, that sort of thing. I do think I am one of those people who had a greater fascinating with it than most people though. I read up on Hiram Bingham III’s exploits and often dreamt, like him, that I would find my own route to Machu Picchu and maybe even my own lost city. Nowadays, the routes have been so explored that doesn’t seem possible to replicate Bingham’s discovery now, but this definitely doesn’t diminish my desire to go there and experience it for myself.
After my friends picked me up from the airport and I got settled down in a hotel, I immediately went out for my first taste of some authentic Peruvian ceviches. This meal of fish, citrus juice, onions and chili is unbearably delicious. The dish relies on the near instantaneous reaction of fresh fish meat to the citrus marinade (key lime or naranja agria), so the only time to eat it is when it has just been prepared. I looked forward to a lot more ceviche meals along the way.
Let me take this opportunity to introduce my friends in Peru, who helped lay the groundwork for this trip. Adelmo is a businessman from Peru who often takes round trips between Peru and Cuba. We have made a tidy sum of money there together, and now he gets to pay me back some more. Billy, real name Wilhelm, is a German student, traveling the Incan routes for the same reasons I am. Adelmo got for us two of his workers, brothers Carlos and Jose, as our travel guides.
Adelmo and his guides tried to convince Billy and I to reconsider and take the alternate Lares trek booking for now. This would be cheaper for Billy, but also considerably easier and would require less dedication. We would not see as much of the Andes, but we would be starting off at a higher point and be able to enjoy it more, or at least that is what they tell me. The drawback to this is we might be more susceptible to altitude sickness early on, whereas the longer route would allow us to acclimatize longer. Government regulations have also set limits to the number of tourists allowed to take the trails, but Billy and I are hopeful that we can take a full four days. As I am writing this, we are still undecided on this suggestion but by the next time you hear from me, you will know what route we have taken.
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