Do you ever look at photographs of a place online or in print and think to yourself, “How the heck does a place this beautiful and serene even exist?” For the first part of my summer vacation, I found myself in Peru and the entire time I was there, I found myself wondering how a place so incredibly stunning existed, and that I was living it every day.
Everything from Lima, the country’s capital, to trekking through the Andes Mountain Range to Machu Picchu just blew me away. I’d like to think I’ve been to a lot of incredible places in my life, but Peru blew all of those out of the water. It was so beautiful and pure in such a rustic way. Considering the incredible things the country offers (i.e. Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, etc) you would think more people would vacation there, but I guess vacationing in Peru is more for the “outdoorsy type,” which I would like to throw a disclaimer out there that I don’t fall into that type at all. Yet I found myself spending part of my trip camping in the Andes and trekking to the top of a near-16,000 ft. pass.
I may not be the outdoorsy type, but Peru was so different compared to everywhere else I’ve traveled to and everything I’ve experienced. I was introduced to a whole new culture and lifestyle, both of which included fearing for my life in some of the scariest cab rides I’ve ever experienced (let’s just say Peruvians consider a stop sign to be more of a suggestion than a law to abide by), but I digress. The people from Lima to Cusco to the high-Andean communities were among some of the nicest and most welcoming people I’ve met.
Every day in Peru for me was 16-plus hours. If I wasn’t trekking through the mountains, I was wandering through museum corridors or getting lost in the city streets to completely immerse myself in the country’s culture. I left my phone and laptop behind in America and spent the trip focused on educating myself on Peru’s history and the incredible culture its people have created over hundreds of years. In the past when I’ve traveled, I never focused as much on learning about and observing a country’s native people, and I think that’s why I loved this trip so much. I had zero distractions and was able to focus on observing the native people and learning about their colorful and unique culture.
In the future, if you ever find yourself wanting to go somewhere to completely immerse yourself in a different place and culture, consider going to Peru. It’s a beautiful country that’s pretty cheap to travel around in. Just don’t drink the tap water! Take a risk and eat some Ceviche (or try all 4000 varieties of Peruvian potatoes). But make sure you hike through the Andes Mountains and weep on the steps at Machu Picchu over its inexplicable beauty. You’ll thank me later.