Hola, mi gente!
This spring break, at least on the East Coast, it’s been extremely chilly! I’m still wearing Uggs and winter jackets— and it’s April. Summer better come soon in place of a lousy spring.
Peru’s weather, in my opinion, is like a gentle spring if you decide to visit in any months of what is considered summer in the U.S. — June, July, and August. The weather varies depending on where you decide to visit; the country has lots of mountains and high elevations that drastically change the scene.
While the two week trip I took in Peru can be summed up in three words, it must be explained in a longer text to fully understand the meaning: Adventurous, Daring, and Awakening. Emphasis on the adventurous.
Before embarking on this journey to discovering Lima, surviving the altitudes of Cusco, hiking the Machu Picchu, and navigating the Lake Titicaca, I wished I would have received the advice I will share now.
Through this advice, you will agree with me that this trip really takes an adventurous, daring, and ready to be awakened person. Here are the essential things you might want to consider taking with you.
An Appetite to Try New Foods
Peru’s delicious food never left me feeling unsatisfied. Even the small treats and desserts I picked up along the way were fulfilling. In Lima, open concept cafes and outdoor eating spaces were common and reminded me of French cafes. Of course, Lima, instead of croissant and crêpes, had its native pastries and drinks. The first day I arrived in Lima, I remember eating a Sanguche de Chicharron: a yummy pork sandwich.
When I’m in Latin America or the Caribbean, I always look for a staple drink called Inca Cola. The first time I had Inca Cola, it was in the Dominican Republic, but I never find the flavor I like the U.S. My favorite flavor is the red one, so at every meal in Peru, if the restaurant carried cherry Inca Cola, the drink would be sitting along with my meal. While some grocery stores in the U.S. carry Inca Cola, only international supermarkets carry the red Inca Cola.
Passion to Explore Hidden History
Peru’s rich history can be overlooked if you forget to explore each city! Sure, it’s hard to miss Machu Picchu, but I’m sure that if you do not look carefully, you might fail to see the catacombs in Lima or perhaps the tomb of Saint Rose of Lima. My father lives by TripAdvisor; I highly recommend this website and mobile app to get the most out of every place you visit.
When we were in downtown Lima, we happened to see the newly elected President of Lima (back in 2016) walk into the government palace! My family and I were sitting in our car, ready to head to a new location, and then we see a limo stop in front of the government palace and out walks the president! And another funny side note; the president stayed at the same hotel we did in Puno except he left the day we arrived!
A Ready-to-Roll-With-The-Unexpected Mindset
Machu Picchu: an Inca civilization creation that still leaves people stunned. Machu Picchu: where hiking and steep hills are a way of life.
At the bottom of the mountain that Machu Picchu rests upon, there is a city called Aguas Calientes. Filled with tour shops, this city is where the train arrives for people to come visit. To take note, you either hike up to Machu Picchu or you can take a bus to the top. The bus goes through extremely narrow and steep terrain, so if you are afraid of heights, close your eyes!
To get to Machu Picchu, you have to take a train to into Aguas Calientes from Cusco. The train stops along its path to Aguas Calientes for hikers to get on and off.
The train ride back to Cusco was not only one of the best memories of my trip but also of my life. I happened to sit next to a lady from France who only knew French and a little bit of English, and the couple in front of me were from Brazil, but knew how to speak Portuguese, English, and a little bit of French.
The seating on the train were in table-like seating; the way us four sat encouraged conversation. After I took a small nap, I woke up and I can’t remember why us four started to talk, but we dove into deep conversation. We all spoke English, but the lady in France only spoke a little of bit of English and didn’t seem to understand us sometimes, so I had to improve my French from school. I could only make simple sentences, and her quick French was a troublesome to understand, but we all got around to talking amongst each other. It was the best conversation of my life.
Stylish Shoes for Walking
The capital of Peru, Lima, has a whole lot of life. In my opinion, they also have one of the best malls. As random as my odd quirk for rating malls in different countries goes (besides the U.S.), the very best mall is the El Corte Inglés in Spain, followed by Galleries Lafayette in France, and in third comes Larcomar in Lima.
One of the nights that I stayed in Lima, my family and I visited a fountain park where we spent the evening taking pictures. The park was a popular tourist place, but as our local tour guide explained, it’s also a place that locals love to visit.
The walking game in Lima, and in Peru, is no joke unless you plan to get around town in a car. Walking a better solution to beat the immense traffic; so, bring a good pair of shoes!
… And a pen! Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest lake, contains indigenous people who live in house on top of the lake and have a very distinct way of living. These people began living on the lake when the Spanish came to Peru. As a way of continuing their lifestyles, the native Indians creating houses on top of Lake Titicaca to avoiding Spanish interaction.
The exact reason why you cannot forget to bring a journal is because all of these experiences are moments, people, and images that you do not want to forget. As someone who loves to write, I cannot think of a better way to capture such a unique memory like mine on Lake Titicaca.
I understand that journaling after an exhausting day may sound like too much effort; I completely relate. Still bring the journal so when you are in an uneventful bus ride, or at a layover at an airport, or on the plane coming back home, you can jot down everything that comes to mind. Oh, if you did not already pack this, bring a camera!
Do not forget to go to your doctor before going to Peru if you plan on going to altitudes higher than sea level (or where you live)! They can give you pills to combat altitude sickness.
Little story! I had no idea that I suffered from extreme altitude sickness. Do not let what happened to me happen to you.
Here’s what happened: After seeing Lima, I flew to Cusco, Peru. The day that I arrived, I was not supposed to have a tour until the following day. What ended up happening was that some workers in Cusco were going to go on strike, so our travel agent called us in Cusco and arranged for us to have a tour the same day we got from Cusco to avoid these strikes. About half way into the tour, I fainted at the top of an ancient staircase. Two days later when I was in Machu Picchu, I went the clinic on the top of the mountain because my chest started to hurt. Then, when I returned to Cusco on my way to Lake Titicaca, or Puno, I had trouble breathing at a restaurant and was taken on an ambulance to a hospital in Cusco and spent a day in the hospital while my brother and my dad got to pet alpaca.
Moral of the story: do not mess with altitude sickness. Go to the doctor before you go!
Have a great week my friends and I hope to talk with you all real soon!
“He who travels has stories to tell.” -Gaelic Proverb