I can’t travel anywhere without having pieces stick with me.
I recently returned from a 10-day holiday in Peru, experiencing that country from Cusco, once a piece of the heart of the Incan empire.
We were treated well by Aspiring Adventures. Our trip had bicycling as its focus, a great way to be introduced to a culture. You and two wheels, in a group. traveling through sections of a country, all of us (with the exception of our guides) for the first time.
We were shepherded but felt we weren’t constrained. Our guides, who are locals, made us feel welcome. We experienced the thrill of barreling down Peruvian highways, mostly downhill, in the Andes. Uphill was a different story. High altitudes and the short period of acclimatization made that aspect a little tricky. We were able to tackle a beginner’s single-track trail. I was one of three who tackled a rocky, challenging portion of the Inca Trail.
All went well, with the exception of a stolen cell phone (in a crowded market) and an unfortunate bike crash by one of the party (my wife — minor injuries that linger somewhat). We experienced varied geography, learned about the area’s geology from a professor in our group, about the history of the Incan people from our primary, university-trained guide, ate very well from down-home cooks and restaurants (the variety of foods is mind-blowing — fusion at its best), and came away from the trip with plenty to think about.
I grew up in the Rockies here in the states among Native Americans. I’m Anglo, but, I have a deep affinity for native peoples. I don’t quite fit in to the large culture which I’m a part of now. I bristle when the contributions of an area’s native folks go unnoticed or denigrated. I can’t quite grasp some of the claims of “progress.” So, after our trip to the Cusco area and seeing the remnants of the culture of the Incans and seeing the pride of the present residents, that affinity has been strengthened.
I got a taste with the brief exposure to the mountains, valleys, highlands and peoples of Peru. I was a tourist, for sure. I welcomed the hospitality we were shown. What I will offer in return in one person’s insistence that we respect the foundations upon which our present have been built, the we value every person in a culture and every branch of its history.
I certainly parachuted into Peru, but I left with another hook in my soul that won’t let go.
When I work up the nerve, I’ll be posting my story of our trip.